No More Champagne Room for Wall Street's New Recruits

champagneroom No More Champagne Room for Wall Street's New RecruitsThanks to increased public scrutiny in the era of bailouts, SEC investigations and other forms of government inquiry, newcomers to Wall Street’s top firms aren’t getting the classy treatment they used to, according to this Businessweek trend piece on the death of “sell night.”

On sell nights of yore, investment banks would wine and dine recent college graduates with lavish nights out in New York. Established honchos at big firms would treat young bucks to a glimpse of the Wall Street lifestyle. Limousine-service rides to strip clubs, fancy dinners, Yankee games and booze cruises were all in the offing.

“I remember the old days,” veteran investment manager Luis Yanez tells Businessweek. “Being flown to Miami, thousands on dinner, clubs, bottle service, nice wine. No expense seemed like too much.”

But the jig is now up — not because Wall Street has run out of money (perish the thought) — but because populists have ginned up public outrage over the perceived excesses of the financial industry. Recipients of government aid under the Troubled Asset Releif Program are particularly cautious about stoking public ire. “Now it’s hard to get taken out for a burger, fries, and some beers,” sighs Yanez.

In July, Goldman Sachs was even reduced to treating its newcomers to a private dinner at the Ruth’s Chris in Midtown. It’s almost shameful, although the nationwide chain is publicly traded (NASD: RUTH) so maybe Goldman is just seizing the opportunity to supplement its training programs in securities analysis. But probably not.

It’s not just the recruits who have to tighten the belt. Deutche Bank has done away with expensing any dollars tucked into lovely ladies’ garter belts. You know times are tough when a hardworking six-figure twentysomething can’t even break out the company card in a gentlemen’s establishment.