Best paying jobs in Finance

It is no secret that the Finance industry is among the most lucrative and best paid. However, it is worth researching and selecting a career with caution as there is a huge pay range within the sector.

We analysed 1,157 London Directors' salaries to pinpoint the top paying jobs in Finance. We found that working for an investment bank pays 30% more than working for buy-side institutions such as asset management and hedge funds companies. Salaries are linked to how close the function is to direct revenue generation and bonuses are indexed and tied to performance- revenue or performance-generating jobs are much more likely to pay substantial bonuses.

Sector Salary Bonus Total
Investment Banking 160,000 100,000 260,000
Financial Buy Side 120,000 75,000 195,000
Ratings Agencies 111,000 22,000 133,000

With great responsibility comes increased revenue potential

Investment Bankers earn 30% more than buy-side Directors and almost twice as much as Directors working for Ratings Agencies, where bonuses are one fifth of those in Investment Banking. The more risk involved in a job, the more aggressive the bonus policy. Whilst Rating Agencies recommendations are key influencers in the market, the research analysts wont take a position or any kind of exposure on the back of their recommendation, which means their employer's top line will not be directly impacted by their work. At the opposite end of the spectrum; traders and fund managers' bonuses are directly aligned to their fund performance or profit and loss.

Activity Salary Bonus Total
M&A 178,000 148,000 326,000
Bank Trader 161,000 120,000 281,000
Origination & Syndication 175,000 105,000 280,000
Structuring 153,000 103,000 256,000
Institutional Sales (Banking) 150,000 100,000 250,000
Asset Gathering/Fundraising 120,000 110,000 230,000
Private Equity LBO 123,000 102,000 225,000
Fund Management 124,000 100,000 224,000
Venture Capital Investment 130,000 60,000 190,000
Research (Banking) 112,000 75,000 187,000
Relationship Management (Banking) 139,000 39,000 178,000
Portfolio Management 120,000 43,000 163,000
Product Specialist 105,000 55,000 160,000
Product Development & Marketing 100,000 60,000 160,000
Relationship Management (Buy-Side) 105,000 42,000 147,000
Risk 110,000 24,000 134,000
Ratings Agency Research Analyst 111,000 22,000 133,000
Middle & Back Office Generalist 88,000 16,000 104,000

Banking all the way

Not only do M&A bankers earn three times more than Middle & Back Office professionals, they also earn 40% more than the best paid jobs in the Asset & Wealth Management industries.

You want that bonus

Generate some profit first. Bonuses make up almost 50% of the total remuneration package in key, revenue-generating positions both in Investment Banking and in Hedge Funds and Asset Management firms. In performance-oriented jobs, bonuses are used to incentivise employees; when working in Risk Management or for Ratings Agencies, where either the function is far removed from revenue generation, or where the company's output (ratings research) does not directly impact revenue, bonuses only constitute around 18% of annual earnings.

In it for the long haul?

M&A bankers earn 16% more than traders, while their lifestyles are vastly different: M&A projects tend to last weeks or months with 24/7 working hours, whilst in trading, decisions are made in an instant, with the working day over as soon as markets close. Are the sweat and tears of a career in M&A worth the extra 16%? A personal decision.

Incentives rule!

Closely matching Fund Management or LBO Investment pay, fundraising proves to be a rewarding trade. Again, it is a job where bonuses are directly linked to how much is being brought into the fund, with very specific formulae and as fundraising becomes all the more competitive, funds are trying to attract and retain employees with a proven record of good results. Expect to do well when liquidity is rife and investors are cash rich, but in cash-strapped times, fundraising professionals are most likely to rely on their salaries only.

It's a level playing field for junior bankers...

While remuneration in banking, is not what it used to be, it remains the highest paying sector. Senior bankers who have been accustomed to a plush standard of living through a career of earning sky-high bonuses are often trapped in the industry, both burning through their revenue to cover household costs, and not making the fortunes they were aiming for 10 years ago. The levelling of earnings between banking and buy-side activities for juniors allows them a broader scope when it comes to picking a career path, less defined by the hope of making a push towards the banking bonanza, but rather the added value a job in Private Equity, Venture Capital or other key roles in the industry may bring.


Emolument provides bonus and salary statistics based on data submitted directly by professionals like you. It is free, anonymous, and already a trusted tool for thousands of professionals worldwide. Are you paid enough? Click here to find out now.

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