Very anecdotal, with a grain of truth…

PRESIDENT’S DAY WEEKEND in February at some point became the unofficial kickoff of summer-rental shopping in the Long Island seaside retreat called the Hamptons. No secret why: Wall Street’s annual bonus checks typically cleared in late January or early February, making thousands of finance types feel flush enough to lock in a $40,000-per-month “cabin” for July and August.

This could be yet another signature tradition of Wall Street’s boom years to go the way of the straw boater and half-day trading on Saturdays, now that the very notion of the bonus is under attack, and large firms maneuver to make their “talent” into more typical salarymen.

Bank of America (BAC) last week signaled to its investment-banking corps that the uproar over the industry’s bonus culture would shift its pay practices toward higher base salaries.

A memo to staffers from BofA’s president of global banking and wealth management, Brian Moynihan, suggests the new parent of Merrill Lynch is considering boosting base pay and de-emphasizing bonuses.

While the measures “would not increase total compensation,” according to the memo, obtained by Barron’s, “we believe it is responsible, and consistent with the emerging public consensus, that a greater percentage of overall compensation come from fixed-base salary. Target incentive compensation [so-called ‘bonuses’] would become a smaller portion of total compensation. Together these steps would better align the interests of employees with the long-term successes and risk considerations of the company.”

Welcome to the new Wall Street, where some might be asking whether summer-house owners will take 52 weekly payroll deductions in lieu of a lump sum.

click on the title below for full article

Stocks Through a Wide-Angle Lens

By MICHAEL SANTOLI  Barrons.com


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