It was Christmas 2006 and the investment bankers of Wall Street and Canary Wharf were at the height of their swagger. After a record year advising on lucrative M&A deals and a string of blockbuster listings including Mastercard and Hertz, it was time to kick back, relax – and prepare for a feast of bonuses.
There was plenty to go around. That year Goldman Sachs served up a record profit of $9.5bn (£7.4bn) and paid out $16.5bn in compensation to staff or $623,418 per employee.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” quipped Michael Holland, chairman of investment firm Holland & Co to The New York Times.
Broadly speaking, he was right. It’s not just the thicket of new regulation unleashed by…