Work-life balance, a sense of achievement and the chance to change the world – these are all good things for a young person to look for in a career. But you know what’s also nice? Money! Financial services is famous for providing some of the highest paid positions for new graduate applicants.
So which jobs pay the most when you’re starting out?
Hedge fund, entry level, $150-325k (£145-237k)
Hedge funds are increasingly keen on developing talent in-house and this means an increasing number of funds are rolling out formal graduate programmes. As well as the big quasi-institutional funds like Bridgewater Associates and Citadel, there are now opportunities advertised at mid-size firms, as well as more informal word-of-mouth recruitment into small partnerships. According to Odyssey Search Partners, compensation for “Junior Analysts” (also often called “Research Associates”) was as much as $325k last year, although some of these people will have joined from investment banks rather than straight out of university. Figures on Glassdoor suggest that Bridgewater Associates pays its analysts basic salaries of $96k, while Reddit and Wall Street Oasis postings indicate that $150k offers are available from Citadel, TwoSigma and DE Shaw, to the very elitest of the elite.
Private equity analyst, $114.1k (£91k)
Traditionally, the route to an “entry level” job in private equity has been through the analyst program of a top-tier investment bank, with interviews happening in the second year. However, some PE shops have started giving offers to first-year analysts, and the biggest firms like Blackstone have graduate schemes of their own. Figures from Preqin suggest that total compensation for a private equity analyst in the U.S. is $114.1k, falling to an average of $82k in Europe and $62.5k in Asia. According to data filed with US immigration authorities, Blackstone itself pays between $100k and $120k at the Analyst grade.
Investment banking division, analyst, $150k (£91k)
The investment banking industry has fallen on somewhat lean times recently, but starting salaries continue to rise as the banks struggle against more glamorous Bigtech companies for top talent. Figures compiled by London recruitment firm Dartmouth Partners suggest that across the board, basic salary offers are around £50k, but bonus potential can take this up by another £41k at the most successful firms. If the bank makes less money however, the bonus isn’t guaranteed – there were plenty of firms where total compensation was more like £60k. Because, at present, the American investment banks are significantly outperforming their European peers, remuneration is somewhat higher in New York; our analysis suggests that basic salaries are $85k and total compensation as high as $150k.
Sales and trading, investment bank, $125-135k (£60k-80k)
Entry-level front office jobs in investment banks tend to pay the same regardless of which division you end up in. If you choose markets instead of IBD, then at present, you’re going into an area where revenues are under more pressure and hiring is sluggish, so your bonus expectations should be scaled down accordingly; on the other hand, who’s to say that 2020 won’t see a recovery of fortune?
Quantitative risk analyst, $80-100k (£65-85k)
Risk management salaries within investment banking and the broader financial services market have been on the up in recent years, with firms battling over a limited supply of senior staff who have reportedly named their own salary on switching positions. At the junior end, however, quantitative risk analysis is in danger of becoming commoditised, with some positions being outsourced to India. It is still a well-paid job, however, with Glassdoor showing entry level positions between £65k and £85k in London.
Regulatory reporting accountant, newly-qualified, $92k (£74k)
“Entry level” for accounting jobs tends to correspond to “newly qualified”, so it depends on whether you consider the first three years of an accountancy career to be work experience or the equivalent of a postgraduate qualification. According to the Institute of Student Employers, the average starting salary for accountancy firms was £26.4k (US graduates going to Big Four firms seem to do a bit better, at $45k). However, once you have passed the exams and developed experience in an in-demand financial services niche, things get substantially better – regulatory reporting salaries come in at $92k, according to Robert Walters, rising to $125k after two years.
Internal auditor, financial services, $87k (£70k)
If you don’t fancy regulatory reporting, how about internal audit? This is another niche in the banking industry where accountants are always in demand; London salaries are more or less in line with regulatory reporting specialists at £55-70k.
Private banking relationship manager, Singapore, S$52-94k (£30-54k)
Singaporean private banks once famously started hiring hairdressers as relationship managers, such was the scarcity of talent and demand for employees in this area. This may have slowed, but banks in the region struggle to hire enough people to deal with the ever-growing pool of wealth and have had to start offering generous salaries at the junior level. Our figures suggest that assistant relationship managers can get close to six figures, and this rises dramatically once you get your own book of business.
Compliance, product advisory, $60-100k (£40-55k)
Starting salaries for middle office employees have generally lagged those in the front office, but as banks are forced to invest more and more into control and compliance staff, pay has started to rise. The highest paid entry level compliance position is within the product advisory field, says Morgan McKinley with salaries coming in at the equivalent of $60-100k.
Actuary, $85-150k (£65-120k)
The path to becoming an actuary is a gruelling one, with training typically taking anywhere between three to six years and which is usually provided by employers to the best and brightest maths graduates. Starting salaries of £24-35k ($40-60k) may not seem that appealing, but you typically get a raise every time you pass an exam, and current Glassdoor postings suggest that total compensation quickly gets up to $85k and can reach as high as $150k.
Daniel Davies – Read more on efinancialcareers.com