Citi's $30 Million Banker Disproves The Myth That Bankers Are Motivated By Pure Greed

In the traditional discussion about bonuses on Wall Street, bankers are described as driven primarily by greed and problems with banks are assumed to be linked to the way bankers are paid.


But if greed is such an overwhelming part of a banker's motivation, how do we account for the actions of Citigroup's $30 million energy banker? Stephen Trauber had a stunningly successful year at UBS last year, bringing in $200 million in fees, according to the Wall Street Journal. But Citi was able to poach him because UBS wouldn't allow him more control over what his team was paid.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Much more important to Trauber and which UBS wouldn't grant was the separate bonus pool, the person said. It was meant to give the other energy bankers an incentive to stay, especially since a few of them hadn't received bonuses in two years, the person said.

Trauber, after seven years at the firm, left UBS in mid-September, bringing a team with him. Citigroup didn't grant him any use of private plane time, Romero-Apsilos said.

Clearly the point here is that Trauber wants to make sure his team gets paid for their work, regardless of whether other groups at the bank do well. So is Trauber somehow surrogate greedy? Or is it time to acknowledge that the actions of bankers, like those of the rest of us, are motivated by more than just greed?

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