Champagne on ice for an April Xmas bash

THE turkey’s long been eaten, the tree taken down and the tinsel packed away for next year, but it isn’t stopping many a City firm from continuing to plan their Christmas parties well into the new year.

That’s right: hot on the heels of last week’s story about broker Cenkos getting ready for some frivolous frolics at the end of January, an invitation pops into my inbox to another firm’s festive do… on the penultimate day of April. Then again, the firm in question is Winterflood Securities, which makes something of a tradition out of hosting one of the City’s most fabulous Christmas parties every year, and always at the end of April.

The custom dates back over two decades to when veteran Brian Winterflood set up the firm in 1988, managing – impressively enough – to turn a profit by the following April.

“It’s cheaper to do it then, plus it’s a bit of a fillip for people in the middle of the year,” he tells me with a chuckle. “I’ve had many cards in April over the years, and once someone even sent a cake.”
Fancy that. So on to the question on everybody’s lips: will this year’s offering be as decadent as previous occasions?

“Well, it’s not been our best year ever, but we’ve fared alright under the circumstances,” Winterflood continues. “So yes, I think we can stretch to a few bottles of champagne…” That’s the spirit.

January has whipped round again, and with it law blog RollonFriday’s annual survey of the best and worst law firms in the City.

Norton Rose takes the prize for the best legal workplace, scoring a sunny average of 83 per cent over various categories including pay, prospects, treatment and the pressing issue of the quality of biscuits at meetings and the cleanliness of the toilets. (In case you’re wondering, Wragge & Co soared to the top of the biscuit barrel with a crunchy 93 per cent, while Norton Rose also took top honours in the lavatory contest.)

Wiping the bottom of the overall scoreboard were poor old Shoosmiths and Eversheds – which also suffered a blow from the publication of a raft of complaints from its lawyers, one of whom told the blog that “asking for bad things about working for Eversheds is like asking for bad things about being inside a Portaloo when it gets pushed over”. Ouch.

“We confess to being slightly weary of anonymous surveys and feedback,” sniffs an Eversheds spokeswoman. “We carry out our own extensive staff surveys every three months and they paint a much more positive picture.”

As City firms have pledged ever more monetary aid to help those who survived last week’s horrific earthquake in Haiti, Thomson Reuters has launched a free information service for the disaster-struck population. Those in Haiti can register by texting their location to 4636, while families and friends in the UK can register on their loved ones’ behalf by texting REGISTER and their local Haiti number and location to +4673 749 4535.

Ladies, you’re not going to want to believe this, but Victorian gender ideals are making a shocking comeback in the City.

A female chum informs me things have got so bad in her office that her boss recently demanded that she buy a bog-standard leather briefcase to take papers to client meetings instead of using her large Mulberry “Bayswater” handbag – and then promptly bawled her out for failing to wear her high heels to work.

Which, The Capitalist has got to point out, may well be bordering on the illegal, given the well-documented health risks associated with stilettos...