Forget the bonus, I'll take the wine

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Wine clubs, cinema tickets, iPods, flat-screen TVs - banks are resorting to new methods of compensation.

A survey of 69 financial institutions by Mercer Human Resource Consulting has found banks are becoming more imaginative in the sorts of perks they offer their workers.

While the basic benefits - pensions, medical insurance, life assurance and so on - are all still there, nearly a third of banks now offer a 'menu' of flexible benefits that staff can buy.

"The financial services sector tends to embrace more leisure-related benefits, such as the membership of wine clubs and cinema tickets, but also 'red-letter' days, where workers can spend a day racing a Ferrari - if they don't already have one - round a Grand Prix track or something like that," says Mercer principal David Wreford.

Such fringe benefits are unlikely to make a difference to whether you take a new job or not, but they could make you less likely to start looking in the first place, argues Jon Terry, head of compensation and benefits at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

"The variety and breadth of benefits offered as part of a flexible benefits programme has been increasing, and is normally offered right across the piece, to employees at all levels," he explains.

However, perks such as concierge services remain the preserve of more senior staff, says Terry.

We think the offer of a concierge to arrange a plumber or walk the dog is likely to pale in significance alongside the lure of a seven-figure guaranteed bonus. But perhaps we just don't know enough MDs.

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