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June 03, 2020

Numbers Executive’s Investment Banking Remuneration Study Featured in AFR

Bulge bracket bonuses set associates apart

Investment bankers put up with long hours and intense pressure because they know there’s a handsome paypacket waiting for them.
Street Talk got its hands on a salary survey of bulge bracket bankers, independent global firms and boutique M&A advisors completed at the end of last year. Tamara Voninski

Even so, they could be forgiven for occasionally wondering: is it all worth it?

Happily, Street Talk can shed at least a little light on the answer.

A salary survey of bulge bracket bankers, independent global firms and boutique M&A advisors by Melbourne-based corporate finance recruitment firm Numbers Executive has been doing the rounds and causing something of a stir.

The survey – completed in the final quarter of 2019 – suggests the biggest salary discrepancies are found among boutique advisors, especially at the associate level.

Level two and three associates at these firms were paid anywhere between $100,000 and $180,000, while an associate at a similar level at a big bank was paid between $200,000 and $250,000.

These bulge bracket banks – think UBS, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan – were the biggest payers. Operatives at such firms could expect an annual bonus 20 per cent to 50 per cent higher than their peers working at boutique firms, the survey suggested.

But bulge bracket base-rate salaries were broadly similar to that of independent advisors. An associate is pulling in a yearly salary anywhere between $180,000 and $300,000, while a vice president makes between $300,000 and $350,000 and a director snares $350,000 to $400,000.

One big find in the survey was that few participants were expecting a step change in their bonus payments from 2018 to 2019, a prediction that has turned out to be sadly prescient.

As reported by Street Talk last week, bonuses at UBS were down across the board for 2019, with local bankers stuck paying for a global business that underperformed last year.

Morgan Stanley – where bonuses were communicated in mid January – also had a rough year, with compensation tipped to be down as much as 15 per cent in some parts of the bank.