Investment banking is an extremely lucrative career. The Investment Banking Analyst position, which is the most junior position at the firm, is perhaps the most consistently high paying job that a business student can get out of school.
Investment banks make money from advising on extremely large financial transactions. Analysts support this goal by working on financial models, preparing marketing materials, and helping organize the deal process. You will do a lot of Excel- and Powerpoint-based tasks.
In addition to the sheer salary, the Investment Banking Analyst position is also extremely coveted because it tends to be a streamlined path to the best paid buyside jobs in the world. Many headhunters, recruiting on behalf of buyside firms, spend the majority of their energy on hiring analysts from the top investment banks.
Not everyone likes the investment banking job itself because of the brutal hours worked, but it’s hard to ignore the huge benefits you get from it. You have the potential to eclipse 2x the median household income at age 22.
Below, we’ve benchmarked the salary range for the world’s top investment banks. To complete this exercise, we are only using the list of top investment banks from Wall Street Journal’s 2019 league table. Keep in mind that the largest banks are going to pay more than mid-market firms and regional boutiques.
We’re going to start by taking base salary data from the H1B Database. The H1B is one of the most popular US visas for skilled employees. If you are successfully granted an H1B visa in the US, then your salary is going to be in this database.
We went through each of the top investment banks and benchmarked the low and high salary for these investment banking analyst positions. We only used Analyst titles and only used positions in New York to standardize things. We had to make some judgement calls on what to exclude (e.g. roles listed at like $60k are almost definitely not referring to Investment Banking Analyst roles, but are more likely to be back-office analysts).
In summary, the median salary range for Investment Banking Analysts at the top firms is $130k to $145k.
Base Salary: Most investment banks will make a base salary between $85k to $95k. This is what goes into your bi-weekly paycheck. At this level you’ve already cleared what almost every other business job earns out of school in total! Take that non-MBB consultants!
Bonus: Bonuses refer to the cash lump sum you’ll get paid at the end of the year. Bonuses are a lot less standardized but based on my own experience and surveying my peers, it is appropriate to use a 50% multiplier of base salary. Using this methodology, we get a median salary range of $130k to $145k. This % multiplier is going to depend on a number of factors such as the overall economy, your group performance, and firm performance.
Buckets: It really depends on the firm, but some banks will further tier their bonuses into “buckets”. They will incentivize performance by paying better performing analysts more. At bulge brackets, we’ve seen that top bucket analysts will generally make ~10-30% more than bottom bucket analysts. However, some firms have very small bonus ranges (e.g. as low as $5k). It really does vary quite a bit.
Elite Boutiques: I want to specifically point out that elite boutiques (the shaded blue firms, i.e. Evercore, Centerview and Lazard) typically pay more money. These elite boutiques are where you want to be if you want to just get paid. This is because elite boutiques are a little bit leaner organizationally, having fewer overall employees and less administrative overhead. Elite boutiques are generally also founded on the principle that the deal team should receive a greater proportion of the money. Elite boutique deal teams get a larger portion of deal commission.
Centerview: Centerview definitely deserves its own comment. These guys consistently pay the top of street, often rivaling the pay of private equity and hedge fund people. If you’re a top 3rd year analyst at Centerview, you can make >$250k.
Stock: Most of the top investment banks are public companies (except Centerview). But unlike working for Big Tech, you’re not going to get any company stock as an Analyst. You may start to receive stock at the Associate level, which is the position after Analyst.
One last important thing to recognize is that investment banking pay is going to fluctuate with the overall deal volume of the industry. If the economy is slow, then there are fewer deals to do, and fewer commissions to be made.
But all things considered, it’s definitely lucrative to be in investment banking.