Investment Banking Compensation 2015

***Please note that you can Click here fore 2016 data that is now available.***

We are updating compensation numbers for 2015. Excluded from this overview is investment banking analysts as the variability has decreased. Simply put an investment banking analyst should make $150, $175K, and $200K in years one, two and three. The reason we have excluded the exact break out of base and bonus is two-fold: 1) analyst base salaries are a bit less standardized now with some as low as 70K and the new norm for top tier banks being $85K, 2) the bonus is being adjusted to match the all in compensation numbers of ~$150, ~$175, ~$200K. This means the *mix* of income for analysts has changed but the *total* number is roughly the same. So we’re not going to squabble in comments over which bank is at $85/$65 versus $75/$75 for example. If you work in the industry you already know which banks pay what salaries… so lets move on.

Budget Setting: If you’re in a revenue generating role, you know that the budgets for the year are set roughly one month before the year ends (IE: late November early December). So even though numbers are not announced those in the “know” are already aware of where the “pool” is. We’ll cut to the chase:

“Bonuses will be down ~5-10% and your total compensation will be roughly flat”

Finally, before we delve into the data remember we are talking about two things: 1) investment banking division at an investment bank (not hedge funds, not sales and trading etc.), 2) we are including middle market to elite boutique banks, IE: everything from Baird to Lazard.

Changes in 2014: Last year most banks changed their base salaries, increasing them across the board. This is why you’re seeing more discrepancy with some banks paying senior associates $160K base salaries versus $175K versus $150K for example. The numbers are simply moving around a bit depending on which bank you work for. Again… however… total numbers are roughly comparable so we are taking the *median* across all banks. This is probably the best way to gauge numbers across the street as the outliers (an associate being promoted to VP) will drag the comp pool up, while the underperformers who get a “F*** you bonus” of $20K will drag the pool down.

Below is the Data:


The Numbers

Associate 0 (stub bonus for MBAs): Your base out of MBA is probably in the $125K range today and you should get a $30-45K bonus, however, $35K is roughly standard.

Associate 1: First full year, the base salary is around $125-130K and you’re looking at making roughly $240K all-in at the *median*. We are going to emphasize certain points as a top tier banking employee will generally get 100% base as bonus for their first year. But. Again. We are talking about the median employee.

Associate 2: You’re making about $140-150K base and your all-in will be knocking on $300K total. We’re guessing it’s closer to $275K as many people under-perform and are kicked out of the bank. Therefore the skew is actually up as the money is shifted over to the people they like so we’re at $290K.

Associate 3: You’re performing well and you’re likely at least being considered for a VP promotion. You didn’t get fired and you never saw the writing on the wall to leave (IE: a terrible bonus). $160K and just over $300K all-in is about right for the median employee. ~$310K.

Associate 4: You either made it or you didn’t. You did extremely well and already made VP last year or you made it this year and you’re looking at $160-175K base and *more importantly* you’re total pay is about $400K. Once you make the jump you should be knocking on $400K.

Vice President: We’re lumping all years into one in this case because it is easier. If you’re sourcing deals and brought in some money for the firm you’re going to blow these numbers away. One thing we do know is that your base salary is likely $200K. This is industry standard at this point and you can anticipate a bonus of about $225-250K or $425-450K in total. More importantly… you eat what you kill going forward. If you can bring in money, then forget about the range above and you’re going to be promoted very quickly to director where…

Director: At this level your base is $250-275K. Since we’re including mid-tier banks we played it safe and said $250K. Your goal is to essentially generate 1.5x your base salary as a bonus bringing total pay into the $550-650K. Again… If you’re bringing in money none of these ranges matter at all.

Managing Director: Base salaries are generally $350K. Your typical number is about 2x base salary so just over $1M in total pay. To emphasize that this is bank by bank specific, a bulge bracket bank recently *reduced* its base salaries paid to Managing Directors (this was a 2015 phenomenon), anyone in the industry knows which bank this is.

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A Couple of Admissions

We’re going to let you guys in on a couple secrets. This is probably obvious to our long-term readers but here it goes.

First: We won’t bother listening to nit-pickers on where the numbers are because we already received the data and sent it to two people: Mike and Sam (previous GS employee) who can both confirm the data is legitimate. Not going to waste our time.

Second: We actually strongly dislike Wall Street employees. This is not a contradiction. Most Wall Street employees will do whatever it takes to stab you in the back and screw you for a few thousand dollars. They will even do it for $10-20K (no joke). Your co-workers are *NOT* your friends.

The reason it is not a contradiction? Quite simple. We are smart enough to realize that it’s one of the best ways in the world to get rich. How many people make $300K at the age of 26? Not many.

In addition… how many people are able to play the game correctly and realize you make more in one year as a VP than two years as an associate? Again.. Not many.

If you can sell a Company, you’re going to be able to sell anything. No doubt about it.

Summary Points

– Not much changed year over year, while bonuses may be down about 10% the base salaries were raised so you’re really flattish

– Similarly, the rough way to think about each tier is a doubling of income. $150K as an analyst, goes to $300K as an Associate, which goes to $600K for a good VP which then scales to $1M+

– We stick with investment banking as the proxy for Wall Street compensation because it is the easiest to access (if you work in the industry) and it is pretty standardized across the Street

– We are not going to spend a lot of time on the buyside as we’ve already explained how volatile it is, ~$250K as an entry level hedge fund associate makes sense. But. After this… You could receive a $0 bonus or a 4-10x bonus depending on if you’re an associate, analyst or portfolio manager

…. Oh… by the way…. We hope you don’t work at Deutsche Bank



  1. says

    Good analysis of the numbers. From first year analyst to VP is pretty attractive for total compensation, especially when you are younger. What I’ve found is that as you get older, and make ED/MD, shit gets boring and the money doesn’t make as big of a percentage increase difference anymore. Taxes take away 40-50%, and you’re just longing to do something else because you’ve presumably saved and invested your money over the past 10-15 years well.

    The MD base salaries I know are $400,000 -$450,000. Pretty darn good if you can get it!


    • Wall Street Playboys says


      Yeah some of your commenters keep asking us does “banking pay enough”.

      Well we publish the numbers once a year so not a question we can answer right?

      What is a lot? What is enough? What is rich?

      Questions for the reader not for us.

      We’re still waiting for some guy to barge in here talking about “this one MD” who made $50M in one year. But. The median is the median.

  2. Stanley says

    When you guys linked to people, you linked to Cernovich as opposed to Sprezzaturian…by “Mike” you were referring to Sprezzaturian I assumed. (Clarification not a question…I have read carefully!)

    Graduating from a target and regret that I didn’t apply to more banking roles. I applied to a few boutiques but apart from that not much. I bought into the Silicon Valley! hype and learned-to my dismay-that making a fortune in the Valley is *next to* impossible especially in business roles at the start. (Sales role at a $2B valued company = $40,000…no joke!)

    Will be working at a boutique marketing agency that caters to financial institutions and will try to somehow make the leap into finance.

    Thanks to your posts, will also start making money on the side to build up a nest egg-Either through dropshipping or affiliate marketing (I won’t ask a question since you won’t answer it but I’ve wondered how to get started with affiliate marketing-based on my research you need to either start a successful blog with enough traffic to merit putting up affiliate links or you create niche websites and drive traffic from fb and shitty sources like huffpo. Trying to evaluate best approach now.)

    In the long run, I’m sure no amount of money in Wall Street will make you as happy as having your own business. Will build out a business coaching firm, write as an author, or do something else. Incredible that best-selling business authors can charge up to $100,000 for a single speech!

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      We sent the back up to mike cernovich and Sam. We’re happy to send it to Karl as well but he probably doesn’t care anyway and he can easily confirm the numbers himself.

      We’ve never met Karl.

      Starting a business always makes more money than anything else so yes you should start ASAP. A career is just a hedge for income stability.

      • Sean says

        This should really be a tweet: “A career is just a hedge for income stability.”

        You never know if your career will be taken away (2008 financial recession) or if the entire business you are running tanks, or if some competitor takes your market share away or if lightning strikes twice.

        It is certainly wise to hedge if possible and the higher you go up the food chain the more reasonable the hours become, never quite 40 hours a week, but at least you won’t be drinking out of a fire hose like you were just out of college.

    • Techsales says

      I think it is perfectly possible to earn a lot in technology sales if you are good at selling. I work for a $2B cloud company and they pay about $50k base and $32k bonus per year. It is quite easy to exceed the targets and earn even more in bonus. There are several fringe benefits such as paid breakfast and lunch… And you work quite short hours..

    • Saj says

      The tech hype machine is a thing on it’s own. You take a pay cut for the prospect of some significant future windfall, but once you factor in the probability of success the expected value of those options are not nearly what people think (not even mentioning dilution).

      • Anonymous says

        Associate at DB here. We’re crossing fingers with the hope new management recognizes vp and below don’t have significant restricted stock and thus aren’t sticky employees. We’ll jump ship in a heartbeat if we’re fucked. If I was D/MD w/ unvested stock comp., I’d be nervous!

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        Good luck sir! You never know which bank will have a bad year.

        Associates and analysts are generally viewed as a cost of business so hopefully it works out, that said, definitely expect the firm to layoff more than usual (underperforming individuals).

  3. Michael says

    Curious if your data only comes from America. I’m up in Canada so I would expect it to be lower in Toronto – if only because of the smaller market.

    Maybe I’ll have to get an offer in NYC; follow the money!

  4. NotPJ says

    Classic comment about DB, reminds me of the old ” How Piper Jaffraish of you” (Joke).

    Can confirm the analyst +associate comps. Believe street for top bucket analyst within range and median ranking for associates. Rumours bonus will stay same or decline internally.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      The takeaway is the “total” on a like for like basis, ie: comparing a year 3 associate last year with a year 3 associate this year… Will be the same.

      Depends on changes in base salaries. In addition, there is always moving parts depending on group/firm performance. But. The numbers are the numbers and expect to be flat to down slightly *all-in*.

  5. Jerry says

    General doctrine states that money over prestige and understandably so. It seems that most elite boutiques currently pay above the street more so than their bulge bracket counterparts.

    Given this, most young analysts will gun for EB’s due to higher pay and great placements to the buy-side in a few years. What about those who look to do banking long term? EB’s seem to gain their revenue generating talent from BB’s and don’t seem to develop a platform to internally build up their own VP level and above talent.

    This would seem to say that as a young analyst or associate looking to go into banking for the long-term, they should look at BB’s over EB. Though BB’s will have less cash payouts than EB’s, the platform and flexibility seems better adapted for long term bankers. In addition, they can always jump to EB’s once they develop their own book of revenue.

  6. David Schantz says

    What is the average Managing Direcot compensation at a bulge bracket bank when the economy is really good?

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Somewhere around $1.5 million. The problem with that is it “depends” because an MD is solely based on his deal generation.

      Frank Quattrone was making something like $100M when he worked for CS… So naturally he went off and did his own thing!

      A good example: internet bankers are getting paid a ton more than say oil and gas bankers right now. There is simply less deal activity. So broadly speaking an internet banker is making more than an oil banker right now. Hope that helps!

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