It is boom time in the City. London's financial elite will receive bonuses totalling £8.8bn by the end of December, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research - an annual leap of 18 per cent. More than 4,000 workers are expected to each take home bonuses of more than £1m this year.
Criticism abounds that the City's lavish rewards are distorting the economy, and in particular the housing market. The Land Registry has reported a 79 per cent surge in £1m-plus properties bought in London since September last year.
Meanwhile, a number of glossy publications have sprung up in the past 18 months to help these high-flyers decide how to spend their cash - their pages are stuffed with cigars, Swiss watches and supercars.
The latest effort to target the super-affluent is Trader Monthly, launched in the UK this month as a bimonthly one year after its US debut (the UK edition's editorial is entirely produced in the US). ‘We're dealing with Wall Street guys, stock traders,' says editor Ty Wenger. ‘It's a unique readership with an incredible amount of disposable wealth, but they also approach life in a way that is unique to their job.'
Toys for the boys
Trader Monthly appears happy with the image conjured by 1987 movie Wall Street and 2000's more satirical American Psycho. The first few pages of its launch edition are filled with cigar-chomping characters. And although the mag does have a feature on powerful women in the City, this is clearly a man's world.
‘The demographic is great because you get to ask "what's the most ridiculous over-the-top, aspirational type of piece we can do here?",' says Wenger. ‘They can afford it.'
He adds that Trader Monthly is running an article about Concorde seats being converted into office chairs and selling for $10,000.
Trader Monthly's closest rival is the more established monthly Square Mile Magazine (SM). Deputy editor Mark Headley says: ‘We aim to be a kind of City GQ. We often produce guides, such as where to spend money at Christmas, or how to blow your bonus. PROs should be thinking about how to contribute to them.' Aesthetically, SM does bear some resemblance to GQ. But instead of featuring a double-page spread on the best brogues, readers can expect to read features on which Caribbean property to invest in. ‘We encourage PROs to think very creatively: wacky is good occasionally. City lifestyle publications retain a sense of fun,' says Headley.
He adds that he is always looking to profile City-connected entrepreneurs whose businesses produce interesting high-end products. SM was recently pitched a profile of the founder of car-hire firm Best of the Best: ‘It was successful because he had worked in the City and was now providing cars to his old stomping ground. It's nice to find out about the people behind the business.'
For PROs, the genre offers a wealth of opportunity (literally), as Brian MacLaurin Associates discovered when it secured the account for heritage gun brand James Purdey & Sons (PRWeek, 5 May). ‘The product or service that you're offering has to be exclusive and limited enough to really tickle the taste buds of some of the wealthiest people in London,' says agency account director Rania Elhefian. ‘It has to come with a story, and of course a sizeable price tag.'
City whizz-kids want exclusivity and are prepared to pay for it. ‘Who could resist the pulling power of a £10,000 belt buckle made of platinum, white gold and 108 moveable parts, or an £80,000 gun with a two-year waiting list from a company that dates back to 1814?' asks Elhefian. Purdey guns have gained coverage in Trader Monthly's debut issue, as well as in SM.
Quarterly Brummell, (which in February steps up its frequency to bimonthly) is distributed with Financial News. Editor James Rutter says it caters for a more sophisticated audience: ‘The typical reader of City publications is a 35-year-old MD within a hedge fund or investment bank. He wants bespoke items and high-quality restaurants, and holidays that most people might not know about.'
‘Cigar holders and hats'
Rutter says exclusivity, rather than expense, wins the day. He urges PR professionals pitching to Brummell to ditch the ‘bling' because it is trying to reach less ostentatious City characters - Trader Monthly and SM appear to have no such pretences.
One PRO who has pitched to all the above-mentioned titles recommends creating a calendar of events that
traders might visit, such as Ascot: ‘When Ascot is on the radar it is worth pitching cigar holders and hats.'
All three titles insist that picture quality must be premium to stand a chance of admission. Given their publication frequency, pitches need to be planned well in advance: and the effort is certainly worth it because, as Penrose Financial deputy MD Andrew Nicolls - who has consulted on Brummell's content - confirms, all three titles are well read within the City.
The vogue for extravagant bonuses is fuelling City workers' appetite for information on how they can satisfy their curiosity and expensive tastes.
Indeed, Wenger recommends that PR people should treat this audience like celebrities: ‘Look at these guys and treat them like rock stars because, in their world, that's what they are.'
City boys' top reads
Square Mile Magazine
(Square up Media)
Editor Matthew Guarente
Deputy editor Mark Headley
Editor Ty Wenger
Circulation 100,000 worldwide
(eFinancial News Ltd)
Editor James Rutter
Circulation 20,000 (distributed within Financial News)