Where to Work for the Best Lifestyle (and Pay) in Finance
3 mins read

Where to Work for the Best Lifestyle (and Pay) in Finance

If there's one thing finance is known for, it's exceptional pay packages. If there are two things finance is known for, it's pay packages – and tough working hours.

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However, our 2024 Salary and Bonus Report sheds some light on who actually works the most hours. Our report was based on 6,000 responses to our survey earlier this year. We questioned financial services professionals from all corners of the industry, all corners of the world, and all levels of seniority.

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Not surprisingly, it was respondents in investment banking (which includes M&A and capital markets) who had the highest working hours in the industry.

Although M&A's 67-hour work weeks were much shorter than the 100-hour weeks reported during the pandemic, they are still much higher than hours worked in other parts of the bank. On an hourly basis, the best-paid investment bankers in 2023 were in equity capital markets, who earned $120 in total compensation (salary plus bonus).

On an hourly basis, most sales and trading professionals will earn much more than bankers in 2023. For example, credit sales and trading professionals earned an average of $147 per hour. Commodities and macro professionals earned $170 and $180 per hour, respectively.

The highest compensation per hour, as well as the highest compensation full stop, was to be found in hedge funds. Hedge fund professionals earn almost twice as much per hour as private equity funds.

After a tough year for M&A bankers, their hourly wages fell below other jobs. In 2023, our survey shows that equity researchers enjoyed higher hourly compensation than M&A bankers.

As hourly wages go down, M&A bankers are complaining. “The number of hours worked and the complexity of the assignments require higher compensation,” said an M&A associate who works for Evercore in the US.

Another associate at Deutsche Bank in London lamented that his bonus was “less than last year” despite “more responsibilities” and “better” team performance. Apart from key revenue generating roles in sales and trading, M&A, and equity and debt capital markets, work weeks in financial services are less demanding, lasting between 43 and 48 hours. Hourly compensation is correspondingly lower: operations professionals earn $79 per hour; Finance roles (which include audit and accounting) earn an average of $101.

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