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Bonus Day With Manfred

Bonus Day with Manfred

January 9, 2017

Chapter 57 in the exclusive series for Dynamic Commodities- becoming a commodities trader

Bonus day was always a special event at Philipp Brothers but as the commodities business continued to suffer in the years following the merger with Salomon, the payouts declined dramatically.

My first bonus day as a full-fledged trader in the options department and a junior executive traveling around the world with my boss was an event I looked forward to with great anticipation. I had bought my first home, an apartment in Scarsdale, New York with the assistance of a $40,000 loan from my in-laws. I hoped to be able to use part of the proceeds of my bonus to make a dent in the obligation. I also was hopeful that I would receive a raise in salary from the $40,000 per year I was earning at the time. After all, I had been a trader for less than one year and my last increase reflected my job in the operations area.

John Gruen was still the boss of the department but he was reporting to Manfred Koppelman, the copper chief and guru. I was under the impression that Sid or John would give me, what others in the department called, my piece of paper. That paper contained two numbers, the annual bonus to be paid at the end of the month and the salary for the coming year. I was surprised when it was Manfred who called me into Ray Nessim’s old office to inform me of my compensation. The fact that Koppelman was giving out the bonuses on that early December day was bad news for John Gruen but I did not give that much of a thought as I was totally focused on my piece of paper.

As I walked into the office Koppleman barely looked at me. In his German accent he said that Sid was pleased with my progress and he handed me the paper. At the same time he said, “Options are an interesting business but remember, the only thing that matters is physical copper.” I had no idea what he meant. I went into the men’s room and opened the envelope with the paper. The numbers exceeded my expectations. At 25 years old, my salary went from $40,000 to $85,000, a huge increase reflecting the new responsibilities. The bonus was even better. The lump sum of $80,000 would be enough to pay off my in-laws in full less than one year after I took the loan. As I returned to the trading desk, Sid asked with a smirk, “Andy, are you pleased with your number?” I responded that I was more than pleased and thanked him. When I asked Sid why Manfred gave me the paper he said, “Gruen is toast.”

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Post Series: Origin Of A Commodities Trader

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