'Shark's fin with rice' is the expression that stockbrokers who were around in the early 1970s still use to recall the heady time when Hong Kong was just taking off as a financial centre and they were earning so much money that they could afford shark's fin for lunch every day. Environmental scruples might prevent some of today's brokers from placing the same order but with huge commissions and bonuses coming to them after a phenomenally successful year, there won't be much they want that they can't have. After a year in which stock market turnover averaged HK$34 billion a day, up 85 per cent over 2005, brokers are feeling no pain. White Collar hears that many top account executives earned more than HK$10 million in commissions last year, double what they got the year before and several times more than they could expect in a quiet year. Not only was the volume of commissions higher but many account executives - who as a rule receive little or no salary - were treated to a larger share of the commissions than the usual 50/50 split. In Hong Kong, account executives drive brokerage sales. They're the ones who chat up clients on a daily basis, passing along tips and rumours and executing orders. With sales talent in strong demand, some people have been able to negotiate a 70 per cent share of the commissions they generate. Joseph Tong Tang, executive director and chief operating officer of Sun Hung Kai Securities, said his firm hopes to hire more account executives this year. 'We are always in an expansion mood and we will continue to hire good salespeople,' he said. Mr Tong said back-office staff on fixed salaries would receive three to four months' wages as a bonus, the most generous payouts in a decade. coffee break for podcast There's a strong link between Pacific Coffee and computers and it's not just the fact that the locally owned coffee chain puts PCs with internet access at the disposal of its customers. Both its founder and its current owners have professional ties to the computer business. In 1990, Thomas Neir (right) was transferred to Hong Kong from the United States by his employer Tandem Computers. Two years later, he decided to go into business for himself. Pacific Coffee was born. From a single shop in Central, Pacific Coffee had grown to a chain of 47 outlets by the time Mr Neir sold out in May 2005 to Chevalier iTech Holdings for HK$205 million. Mr Neir, one of our podcast guests this week, is still deciding what to do with his windfall. In the meantime he takes credit for introducing the coffee culture to Hong Kong. 'Coffee shops became places where people could go to meet their friends, be by themselves or have a business meeting, and they had very little to do with food. Culturally that was a hard concept for people to fully understand but we brought coffee as a social product to Hong Kong. It is a western concept that has been adapted here fairly well after 12 years,' he said. Chevalier iTech had been sales agent for Toshiba Computers and other office equipment suppliers since the 1980s. Its sharp turn into the food and beverage industry surprised the market, but executive director Oscar Chow Vee-tsung said it was a natural way to achieve better profits for the shareholders. 'We want to diversify our business since the computer industry is so competitive,' said Mr Chow, who joined our podcast along with Christopher Lenz, founder and chief executive of Igor's Group, which Chevalier acquired in November. Igor's operates 21 restaurants in Lan Kwai Fong, Soho and Stanley. Mr Lenz said being part of Chevalier made it easier for his company to expand. 'It's easier to talk with the landlords now that Igor's is part of a listed company,' he said.