Corp Dev offer: lowballed myself can I ask for more pay?

I previously worked in IBD as a VP in London. Unfortunately I was part of the cuts happening across banking sector and was let go back in Q4 2022. I worked for the same bank my entire life, did my Summer Analyst position there, joined as an Analyst, promoted to Associate then promoted to VP. The bank felt like my home and after I was let go, I felt depressed and lonely sat at home worried about how I was going to survive bills.

My VP salary was £165k and bonuses often 100% or higher. I received severance pay for 10 weeks at 50% of basic. 

I decided that I've been in banking for a long time and felt like this could be a start of a new career in life so decided to recruit for a Corp Dev role at a large international company. Well tbh, it was the only place that got back to me inviting to an interview. But I was also very interested in it anyways.

I ended up receiving a call from HR who said they're prepared to give me an offer but first want to assess what salary I would like. Given I'm technically unemployed and my severance ended a couple months ago and I have rent to pay, I was really stressed and desperate for any sort of income. I was destroying my savings (which was hit hard during the stock market crash) paying my bills so if I didn't have any income coming in soon I would have truly been screwed I have around 2 months of cash burn left before I would literally be unable to pay my rent and have to move back in with my parents.

I wanted to ask them to match my £165k but I felt like I didn't have any bargaining power and wanted to make sure they would choose me over any other potential candidates so I lowballed myself and asked for a lower than desired salary to ensure I would be picked.

Role: Corporate Development VP

I asked for £100k, to which convo went like:

HR: "to confirm you will be happy with £100k?"

Me: "yes and available to start immediately"

HR: "great, that's within our budget so we will have the offer sent in writing the end of the week"

End of conversation. Now thinking back, for HR to have asked me to confirm i was happy with that, kinda makes me feel my asking salary was lower than what they were expecting and wanted to make sure, then for them to accept my asking salary instantly and also say it's within their budget means I truly lowballed myself.

Not sure what a fair Corp Dev VP salary would be, but thinking back I feel I should have asked for more. Maybe £130k would have been better? 

I really don't know what to do now, I want to email HR before they send it in writing to try renegotiate higher but I'm worried that might make me look inconsistent and the fact I confirmed I was happy with it over the phone when they double checked with me, will mean I'm acting in bad faith to ask for more. But would you not agree I massively low balled myself? Surely there's a polite and respectable way I can ask for more? 

Comments (53)

  • Investment Manager in AM - Equities

I'm not sure what the going rate for that role is but maybe you can ask about bonus and to the extent they say it's low, ask for a larger base, saying that you thought bonuses would be larger like at the bank? This might be a way to row back. Otherwise I think it's hard to renegotiate from where you are, unless you're prepared to lose the job. Then try and get your salary increased next year or leverage for a lateral move at a better salary

jl12, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This. I think this is the way to go. Ask about bonus and then when they say something probably in the 10-30% range be like I said my base pay of 100k but I was expecting a higher bonus. I was targeting an all-in comp of xxx and I expected a base salary of 100k would get me there but clearly that isn't the case. 

pipole4, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I can give more detail over mp, hard to judge without a sense of the size of the company and how you fit in the organisation.

You should have asked for same fixed comp.

Honestly l don't know what to tell you. If you don't have another opportunity in sight you have limited immediate leverage.

However, the key argument is that you asked for something that's way below market for that role / experience, and that if you go there with that comp you'll leave as soon as humanly possible for something else.

I dont even know if you should take the job now, what are you going to say next time you interview somewhere when they ask you about your current comp?

Unfortunately, it's down to the level of risk you accept to take. Hard to tell you what to do. These jobs don't come up everyday, especially for your level, but a vp title at that comp is going to look weird.

  • VP in IB - Cov

To give you context: the company is very large with a multi billion dollar market capitalisation.

They already confirmed bonus with me over the phone and guaranteed 20% if I meet expectations. Does 20% sound fair to you based on the info I've given?

What would be market comp for a Corp Dev VP at a large company like the above be? Do you think £165k would have been possible, I was worried they would have rejected me if I said that.

I've realised how stupid I was to say something so low, I was just scared I would be unable to afford bills if I remained unemployed much longer.

Do you think I could lie and say I'm now interviewing for another similar role offering much more? Or would they ask for evidence 

Colbert, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is definitely below market. I wouldn't accept it unless you want to lock yourself in at a low salary for years to come. The corporate world works very differently to IB... very low pay rises year on year (even with promotions), and when hopping to another firm your new salary is based on your previous salary - so it would be quite difficult to break out of this unless you were there for a very short period of time.

As a datapoint to consider: I know someone with 2 years of non-MBB consulting experience who recently accepted an offer for a strategy role based in London, GBP95k base plus a 5k signing bonus...

As others are saying above, you could maybe try to squeeze them by asking about bonus and then leveraging from your previous total comp, but even that might not work now given where you are and depends on the risk you are willing to take and potentially losing the offer... If it were me I would play hardball with them and be prepared to lose the offer and in the meantime just recruit for something else.

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Most Helpful
DatesExcelModels, what's your opinion? Comment below:

EDIT: changed agree to disagree (was a typo).

I would call them, explain you are very happy with the offer but that two other places called you back and you are surprised that the base packages came in so much higher (say 28K and 37K higher or something arbitrary). You are still excited to join, but are wondering if there is any stretch in the job spec to 120K base to make you even more excited to join.

If that falls through, I disagree that this role will put you into lower salaries forever. You get what you ask for in interviews provided you come across impressive enough - you can just lie about your current comp and/or what you're looking for. Even if you take a haircut now, you can bluff you were on 145K + bonus or whatever for the next role, and looking for a 20% bump minimum for any offer to be competitive. Speaking from personal experience here.

  • 10
  • Associate 2 in PE - Other

Agree that they cant verify prior comp. If negotiating doesnt work out, accept (maybe ask to start a month later?) and continue to interview (also maybe dont update your LinkedIn and continue to use the IB experience as most recent on resume) and switch once you get a decent offer. This way you have $ coming in so you aren't putting a big dent on your savings and you have the time to interview for the role you want.. 

Smoke Frog, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Look don't beat yourself about this. You were in a very tough spot, you're career bank turned its back on you. You had been there your whole career and I would have thought a lifer like you would have been safe during cuts.

So you were caught unawares and were down to two months of savings. So you were in a very difficult position of trying to find a new job during a competitive hiring environment while the specter of being broke was hanging over your head.

I think you did the conservative thing and locked in the job vs gambling for max salary. It's not ideal but it's also far from the worst outcome. Always remember that it is much easier to find a new job while employed, than unemployed.

So if the low salary really irks you after a few months, you can always recruit again this summer.

I don't want to kick you when you're down, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention how surprising it is to me that you went from summer intern to vp in investment banking, and barely had savings. Wtf have you been doing with your money?

I can guess you've been working for 10 years at the old bank? During the first 10 years for me I blew 500k gambling and still wasn't totally broke, so where the heck is all your savings? Did you have massive student loans? We're you sending money to broke family members? Were you living above your means?

  • 6
  • VP in IB - Cov

Thanks for being understanding, appreciate the support. I was at the bank for 8 years. I've got time on my hands so can give you a breakdown of everything for your reference, basically multiple factors:

- tax and student loans: not sure if you heard but in the UK student loans interest rates went out of hand for a few years and we were paying around 12% interest for a while and I had big loans so this was painful.

- Net monthly, for my last year as a VP with my highest salary during my career on £165k, after tax, loans, pension contributions, national insurance etc. i was clearing around £6k net into my bank monthly.

- rent: London is extremely expensive and unaffordable, I'm paying around £2,700pm (including bills) for a 1 bedroom flat. I figured I'm working so hard I would want something nice to come home to. Although unless I manage to renegotiate a higher salary for this corp dev role, I will have to downsize once my contract is finished or look for a flatshare.

- Savings: I put £1.5k a month into savings. This is where I went wrong, I used to gamble and put things into "penny stocks" which all went to 0 in this market crash and also into tech companies which collapsed in this market crash, e.g. bought Roku at $350, and now its $50, same with Quantumscape bought it around $80 and it's now $7. Savings were wiped away, it's been a really tough year. my £1.5k monthly savings were always going into these gambles, I never built a cash saving.

so after the above, my remaining income spend on "luxuries" is around £1,800 a month, not high as most would think.

- Luxuries: eating at restaurants, going out, holidays etc would use up all the remaining spending power.

BTW these figures aren't exact, I just rounded up everything and gave estimates from the top of my head to give an idea. Of course I could have saved more, been less risky with my investments, I could have flat shared but I always expected bonus day would come and i could just throw that into my savings but lesson learned to be more careful.

DatesExcelModels, what's your opinion? Comment below:

That's tough mate, although I would say that your spending pattern was aggressive (especially when you don't put savings into something relatively safe like S&P index funds or whatever). At your old gig, the only way you'd be able to afford a meaningful mortgage is if you kept making more and more money (when you're already VP at a bank).

I do understand the stress of feeling like you needed a job, but hopefully you can pretend like other offers came in higher. Worst case, you can try and jump ship in a year or so. Seen a lot of people move shop every 1-2 years and get material bumps by interviewing well and pretending like their current comp was higher than it was.

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Smoke Frog, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I understand.

Well, there's no use crying over split milk. We all make awful financial decisions in our twenties. I gambled away my taxable savings as well. But I always maxed out my 401k and Roth IRA and plowed that money into vanguard. So in the future, try to just do low cost passive indexing. It's boring, but at the end of your career your returns will be better than 85% of all other active investors.

And regarding your job, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. Once you have gotten a few paychecks, adjusted your lifestyle so your living like a broke college kid and saving up some cushion, you will feel a lot better. And once you're feeling mentally better, you can start recruiting again. Just say you were collateral damage of the tough environment for banks, and a friend got you this Corp development job. And while you enjoy your current team, the work environment there is slow and you are keen to join a high energy group with better pay. Or make some other bs as to why your looking again so quickly.

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  • Associate 1 in PE - Other

this is not a personal attack but I find it haliarous you work in finance yet make deeply questionable personal finance decisions 

I think you should feel lucky you even recieved a job offer given you have no savings. yes you may have lost out on c. 20-30k of base salary, but given the UK tax system you could have been taxed at like 50-70%+ on the extra anyway. you can always look for a new job in the future.

  • 3
  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A

Just wondering based on other comments, how does a lowball job lower your earnings potential forever? Presumably for any interviews for future jobs it would be easy to bluff that his current base is 150k or something based on the ib background right? 

DatesExcelModels, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Edited my comment (literally wrote the opposite of what I was thinking, so edited and underlined the correct word). You're correct it didn't make sense originally.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov

Just wondering based on other comments, how does a lowball job lower your earnings potential forever? Presumably for any interviews for future jobs it would be easy to bluff that his current base is 150k or something based on the ib background right? 

Ignore my title - I'm in corpdev. I've had companies asking me for payslips to confirm my current salary when negotiating comp

DatesExcelModels, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In the UK? I recruiting for a whole bunch of tech companies and a few VCs (got to late stage with 15 or so over the years) and never had to submit proof of my salary in a way that I could not deflect (that is personal information that may contain information that my employer is not happy to share, and requesting permission to share is obviously very sensitive).

  • 2
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen

Raising your salary when you are already employed is EXTREMELY hard unless you are moving to a new position. 

brickcage, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Unlikely you will be able to negotiate at this point without raising substantial questions. Try to make your case for a sign-on bonus / relocation package if you can (it sounds like you will be moving so maybe some leverage there). But realistically the lost income wasn't going to change your life, so take it on the chin and use it as motivation to leave within a year's time.

FinancelsWacc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Honestly haven't read through any of the responses above but based on a very quick glance it sounds like there is productive conversation so I'll just add an additional data point.

I'm at a F100 company in a Corp Dev group that broadly covers everything from partnerships to minority investments, M&A, and occasionally some strategy work. Some comp ranges for you (NYC, USD):

  • Analyst: ~100k base / ~25k bonus
  • Associate: 110k - 120k base / 30-40k bonus
  • Sr. Associate: 130-155k base / 40k-50k bonus
  • VP (Manager Level, not head of group): 165k - 195k / 55k-100k (unsure what ceiling is here, this is where some people can get stuck in early middle management and I've only recently been hired into this role)

YoE vary but it isn't crazy to think someone internal was promoted to Sr. Associate in 4ish years and VP in 5-6ish (I'll be honest YoE varies a good bit across this group even at each level).

Without having a clue what the UK market looks like for post-IB roles or if there is a discount vs. NY, I would say you lowballed yourself. Like I said earlier, there seems to be some good discourse above re: what your options might be so I would defer to that.

Kendall2832, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm at a US based firm so in USD but associates starting base is around 100-115k from talking with multiple other associates.  Seems extremely under market to be paying a more senior role a 100 base.  I had a Director just leave who absolutely cleaned up in his pay for his new Corp Dev role.  We also match IB bases most of the time at my firm for people coming from IB.  How big is the firm you're at now?  Still seems incredibly low for a VP.  

Sassewere, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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  • VP in IB - Cov

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