By Jennifer Glickel
FINANCIAL DISTRICT – Wall Street was back to making record billions in 2009, but you'd never know it from the holiday revelry that is being kept at a dull whisper.
Most of the bigwig banks have either canceled or significantly downsized their company Christmas parties this season to quell the public relations nightmare over government bailouts and bloated bonuses, DNAinfo has found.
Goldman Sachs sacked its Christmas party for the second year in a row in 2009, despite the investment bank’s profits hitting record highs, particularly in the third quarter when the company reported third-quarter profits of $3.19 billion. Not only did Goldman cancel its corporate party, but it also reportedly forbade employees from funding their own parties.
Other firms were not as stringent with their employees’ personal piggybanks. Morgan Stanley is not having a firm funded holiday party this year, but senior staffers in individual divisions took it upon themselves to reach into their deep pockets to pay for lavish celebrations.
The bank’s private wealth management group is known for holding its annual party at whatever club is most difficult to get into at the moment, and this year proved no different. Senior members of the group covered the costs for a party at the Gates, a Chelsea nightclub located in the former Biltmore Room. Last year’s party was held at Tenjune in the Meatpacking District.
J.P. Morgan Chase’s investment banking division canceled its 2008 holiday party as the market tanked with the collapse of Lehman Brothers just months earlier. This year, though, the IBD-wide party was revived, although not to its former levels of grandeur.
The celebration’s venue was the cafeteria at the bank’s 270 Park building. Alcohol and food was on the company’s dime to reward the many hundreds of bankers that worked to secure the company’s third quarter $3.6 billion profits. Individual groups within IBD held partially subsidized parties of their own at bars around the city, as well.
Citigroup has traditionally never hosted a big corporate-wide Christmas party, though in the past groups in the investment bank have hosted parties at over-the-top locations such as Capitale. That was, of course, before the federal government bailed out the bank and took a 36% equity stake in it.
This year’s group-specific holiday celebrations were completely paid for out of the pockets of senior-level employees. The head of one group went so far as to open up his palatial Upper East Side home for a catered Christmas party for his subordinates.
Deutsche Bank decided to buck the modesty trend altogether this year. The bank paid for its employees to enjoy an open bar party on the roof of 230 Fifth, a lounge that naturally attracts bankers and their hangers-on with cocktails starting at $12.