Where Bank Employees Are Making Out Like Bandits

A feeding frenzy sends salaries skyward--just as clients put the squeeze on margins

It's 5 p.m. on the last Friday in June, and six young bankers are gossiping over pints of warm beer at the White Hart Pub in London's financial district. Michael, a fund manager who does not want his last name revealed, is weighing an offer from a competing bank that would double his annual salary and guarantee his bonus for two years. He figures the total package comes to $400,000 a year. Michael, 32, says he'll probably make the switch and use his first bonus to buy a house in the country.

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