Hire Wire Dec 20 2011

JPMorgan's $20-a-Head Holiday Party

By julie steinberg

Everyone knows that Wall Street has been acting a bit Scrooge-like ever since the 2008 financial crisis hit. Nowhere is this new belt-tightening more evident this year than at the annual holiday party.

At JPMorgan, where holding any party at all is being left to individual business units, the bank allocated $20 a head for some holiday fetes, says one source familiar with the bank's party economics. That's about enough to pay for a glass of bubbly at most venues bankers have grown accustomed to. One business unit's party cost more than that, so managers picked up the remaining tab, with costs parceled out on a sliding scale depending on seniority.

Individual groups at JPMorgan's asset management group also held their own parties, with one party of 150 charging managing directors a few hundred dollars each. Vice presidents paid $100 apiece and analysts got in free, says a source at that unit. No guests were allowed.

"Even if you weren't going to the party, the group wanted everyone to contribute," the source said.

A holiday party in a different unit consisted of free lunch in a conference room, said a source who attended.

That sort of frugality contrasts with parties in days gone by. One source reminisced about several-course holiday dinner parties held at swanky clubs before the financial crisis.

"Firms don't want to be seen sponsoring these," said a source. "In years past, they were blown out of control and expensed back to the firm. There have been a lot of measures taken to avoid that."

JPMorgan declined to comment.

Write to Julie Steinberg at Julie.Steinberg@dowjones.com

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