Ah, the first bonus – it's like a rite of passage in the finance world! Based on the most helpful WSO content, the experience can vary widely. Some folks feel an adrenaline rush, a sense of validation for all the hard work they've put in. It's like finally seeing the treasure at the end of a grueling adventure. For others, it might be a mix of excitement and underwhelm, especially if they've been hearing tales of legendary bonuses from the veterans on WSO.

Remember, it's not just about the amount – though, let's be real, a nice chunk of change can make anyone's day. It's also about what it represents: your value to the firm, the culmination of late nights and sacrificed weekends. But don't let the numbers thrown around by others set your expectations. Your bonus is your own victory lap, whether it's $30k or more.

And hey, if you're feeling a bit out of your depth with all the talk of big bonuses, just think of it as a learning curve. You're in the game now, and there's plenty of room to climb. Keep swinging from those vines, and you'll find your own treasure trove getting bigger with time. Just make sure to manage that windfall wisely – maybe stash some bananas for the winter, if you catch my drift.

Sources: Bonus hit and feeling... nothing?, Bonus hit and feeling... nothing?, Feeling that I’m bad at Finance Post Bonus, Weird feeling, Feels good

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.

nothing, really. it was ' emotionally priced in', would suggest one would really only get emotional if it were a lot higher or lower than thought.  more broadly, in banking, you get a skewed perspective of what wealth is.  you are surrounded by people who make more than you, whether they are clients or you're around more senior colleagues.  self perception of wealth is highly influenced by your circle, so it's hard to feel too excited over 30k or even 300k (don't forget it's halved by taxes)


nothing, really. it was ' emotionally priced in', would suggest one would really only get emotional if it were a lot higher or lower than thought.  more broadly, in banking, you get a skewed perspective of what wealth is.  you are surrounded by people who make more than you, whether they are clients or you're around more senior colleagues.  self perception of wealth is highly influenced by your circle, so it's hard to feel too excited over 30k or even 300k (don't forget it's halved by taxes)

I remember signing the documents about my bonus percentage only to see the deposit get owned by taxes. 

I died a little that day.

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Was the day I became a through and through die hard republican (after seeing how much was taxed)

The liberal fantasy of college was dead

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My first bonus felt awesome. The second bonus was the best day ever and I had a "bonus day celebration" which meant I took some saturday I had off and did / purchased whatever I wanted (this was 2022 so bonus was abnormally high for an analyst). That was the peak bonus season. The third bonus was nice, but I got the more "ehh" feeling when I knew that I should save 90%+ of it

All to say each bonus season gets less and less exciting after the first few as you start to grow up, realize you should be saving much more, and get desensitized about hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting in your account. Enjoy your first few while it lasts 


Tone, what did you do on the bonus day celebration though?


Got $50K and some change post-tax my last year in IB, which was high for an Analyst 2 (Was for FY 2021). Honestly It was almost disappointing because I realized how little of a dent it makes towards getting to $1M liquid, which is some weirdly psychologically important number for me, but also isn't really shit in 2024 prices.

Kinda made me realize that the whole Wolf of Wall Street high-roller in your 20s-30s facade isn't real. By the time any of us start really pulling in big bucks we'll be old farts, married with kids that take up all our time and money anyway. My perspective has shifted a TON since initially getting into IB, towards maximizing the interesting experiences I get to enjoy in life and away from working as many hours as possible to make as much money as possible. In all reality very few of us are ever going to make it to private jet, mansion in the Hamptons type of rich in our lifetime so why waste your life slaving away just so you can die with $5M in savings instead of $3M in savings or have a $5M house in Montauk instead of a $2M house at the Jersey Shore.

Travel and get out more, work less. 


God damn you're from Upstate NY too? I think we found the most depressing guy on WSO. Upstate NY is literally the back-office of the state. What else goes wrong in your life? Everything? 

Guy wakes up every morning and steps on an upside-down leggo, jumps around in pain and then slams the door shut....on his fingers. By the time he gets to the bathroom he's fuming with agony and anger. Picks up his toothbrush but is shaking so bad he drops it in the toilet. "FUCK! AGAIN WITH THIS BULLSHIT" he screams. Decides he'll just swig around toothpaste in his mouth but realizes the toothpaste is nearly empty. Squeezes as mightily as he can and nothing comes out. Steaming mad at this point. Goes into his wife's room to yell at her, but her boyfriend is sleeping still so she shushes him and he's almost late for work. Opens the front door and an avalanche of ice and snow caves in through the roof over his porch and decks him to the ground. He army crawls to the car and the key hole is frozen over. He's too poor to afford an electronic key for his 1999 Chevy. He lays face down, defeated in the snow. Some kids from the neighborhood ride by on their cross-terrain skis and piss on him. He fades into the darkness. he is the world's most depressing man. 


Felt the same just a couple of days ago when it was announced, though I'm not sure what others got but still felt low-balled by the bank. Just shitty


Yeah, cause losers like our parents were busy taking out HVTs in Iraq and Afghanistan so that winners like your parents could make millions sitting their soft asses on their cushy couch.

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Smoke Frog scoffs at a mere IB bonus, of course his father in law will award him 10x that silly little IB number ... simply because he is a "winner" 


Honestly man, it wasn’t so much about the money but rather just being proud of myself. A lot of people these days bash IB and (often times rightfully so) mention that it’s not worth the sacrifices and all. But I can confidently say that after getting out of the Big 4 world (working for a 40k salary out of UG), grinding my way to a BB IB 2.5 years later, and cashing in that $75k bonus, I felt very proud of myself.

It felt like I had finally proven to myself that I was “good enough” to gain access to this unique world of finance.

Now it’s been 2.5 years since my first bonus. The dollar amounts have gotten significantly larger since, but I don’t think IB is for me. I’m glad I did it though, and I’m sure I’ll be better prepared for whatever comes next because of my time in IB. I hope you all have that same feeling of pride when you get your bonuses - It may not be the best job in the world but it sure is a very privileged situation to be in.


Felt almost nothing lol, but bad year for the bank. Was getting smoked with 100 weeks for the past month and dumped a lot of it into my 401(k) so the post-withholding amount hitting my checking was modest. The money doesn’t feel like much if you’re so sleep deprived that you barely have time to notice it.


This past summer. Very underwhelming. Agree that the total $ sum was big, but it was a big haircut from other classes and lower than street for top bucket. Understand that the M&A market was down, but I had been crushed like a bug and my team had done fairly well compared to others. I may sound ungrateful, but I walked out of the MDs office thinking that I was done with banking and it was time to leave. Can't say I have been very committed to my job since & really I let things slip through the cracks, sign off much earlier and just accept that some items will push to the next day. The whole dream of being as good as I can faded 


Remember when your dad beat your ass as a kid but then felt bad and got you ice cream after. Kinda like that (those with immigrant parents will understand).


First bonus was exciting. I remember taking the call from a Cook Out Burger on a weekend trip with my GF at the time, now wife. Talk about irony of the situation. After working my ass off to go from a working class family with a nontarget degree to banking, I welled up with emotion when I was given my number ($80k as an A2 in 2018).

A to A promotion bonus was exciting knowing I was getting over 1x + Assoc sign on bonus, but still didn’t have that first time feeling.

Associate bonuses lost a little bit of lust each year. Even the Assoc3 promotion bonus to VP.

Hot Take: the comp information/bonus threads, while very useful, takes the thrill away from comp season. It ends up being quick dopamine when you see good prints for others and you’re able to estimate your bonus with ~10% variability. It’s become very anticlimactic.


My first bonus will pay for 3 weeks of rent.

Super excited!


My first bonus was pretty anti-climatic. $70k pre-tax in summer 2008 (roughly equivalent to $100M in today’s dollars). The crash had not yet hit and I was still getting absolutely crushed so there was no time to spend it. I pretty much just threw it in the bank and went back to grinding. In fact, I managed to live off my base for my entire career and always banked my bonus + carry… hence my ability to retire in my mid-30s. Note that bases were a lot lower then — $55k for a first year analyst and $60k for a second year analyst at HW&Co. Richmond and not much higher for the BB bankers in NYC.

I will say that I was pleased with my 2009 bonus. Despite the market collapse and bonuses getting decimated across Wall Street, Harris Williams treated its analysts well and gave us full bonuses (in my defense, other than January ‘09, I was still doing all nighters nearly weekly up until my last month). My bonus was down to $60k but most people at the time considered themselves fortunate if they hadn’t lost their job. Can’t say I loved the grind but HW took care of us.

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