These are the top M&A boutiques. This is how much they pay

What with all the excitement about PJT Partners, the boutique investment bank which went public this week and equips its senior deal makers with 15 year-old mobile phones, now’s a good time to review the state of pay in the boutique sector in general.

All the more so because recruiters say boutiques are stepping up hiring and students say they’re being lured with the prospect of high rates of cash pay.

“It’s easy for boutiques,” complains the HR director at one international bank in London. “They’re not constrained by European pay regulations in the same way that banks are.”

But how much do boutiques pay really? It’s usually difficult to tell as most are partnerships and don’t make their accounts public. In the UK, however, they’re compelled to register regular accounts with Companies House. We looked at these and have listed the results below (PJT hasn’t lodged any accounts yet). They suggest most boutiques pay within a similar range. You can make a lot, but only really if you’re a partner, and only if your boutique is making money.

1. Houlihan Lokey: Average pay per head £287k ($437k)
The most recently available results for Houlihan Lokey Europe cover the 12 months to March 2014. During that time, the firm paid its 117 London-based employees an average of £287k, making it the best paying boutique of the lot. Strangely, the three directors at the firm didn’t do so well, with the highest paid among them earning ‘just’ £276k.

2. Evercore Partners: Average pay per head approx $410k (£269k)
Evercore only breaks out pay and headcount globally. In 2014, the firm spent $550m on around 1,340 staff – an average of $410k per head.

3. Qatalyst Partners: Average pay per head £217k ($330k)
The San Francisco-based technology investment bank Qatalyst Partners paid its six London-based employees an average of £217k in the year to December 2014. This was despite booking no revenues in the country…

4. Ondra Partners: Average pay per head £216k ($329k) 
Ondra’s most recently available results are for the year ending March 2014. Average pay per employee at the firm was £216k, but the average partner earned £1.5m and the highest paid partner earned more than £3m.

5. Centerview Partners: Average pay per head £213k ($325k) 
There’s a pattern emerging here – M&A boutiques like to pay their average employee around $320k. The last year for which figures are available for Centerview’s UK operations ends March 2014.

What’s notable about Centerview, however, is it’s massive generosity to partners. The top paid partner at Centerview earned £5.3m in the year ending March 2014. The average partner earned £1.5m.

6. Zaoui & Co: Average pay per head £213k ($325k)
Zaoui & Co’s most recently available results cover the year ending December 2013. During that year, the average member of staff was paid £213k. Zaoui’s three partners didn’t have a great year, however – the firm made a loss of £393k and that negative result was carried across to the ‘members’ remuneration’ pot.

7. Robey Warshaw: Average pay per head £211k ($321k)
Before PJT Partners, Robey Warshaw was the boutique of the moment after it won a role advising on the massive SAB Miller deal. The most recently available accounts for the firm cover the 18 months to March 2015. During this time, Robey paid an average of £317k each to its six non-partner level employees. On a 12 monthly basis, this works out at £211k per head.

8. Greenhill & Co: Average pay per head €282k ($318k) 
Greenhill also paid in the zone. Most recently available results for Greenhill Europe suggest it spend nearly €4m on compensation in the year ending December 2014, divided between 14 members of staff.

9. Perella Weinberg: Average pay per head £204k ($310k) 
In the year ending December 2013, Perella Weinberg paid its average UK employee £204k. The firm’s partners (unspecified in number), got to share £1m, down from £9m one year previously.

10. Moelis & Co.: Average pay per head £196k ($298k) 
The last year for which results at Moelis & Co. LLP are available ends December 2014. During that period, Moelis set aside a total of £21.2m to pay its 91 staff and 17 ‘members’ (partners) – working out to an average of £196k per head. Partners at the firm were paid an average of £312k for the same period.


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