To what extent do you tell family / friends about your salary?

Come from a town where not a lot of people really know what investment banking is (probably like most towns).

I'll be a first year analyst making around 150-200k next year. I told my family, with the exception of my brother, that I'll make somewhere around 70k or so (tell them I'm not exactly sure and it varies from year to year). I tell the same thing to friends.

Most of my friends back home are either still searching for jobs or not making that much. Don't want to change the dynamic of our relationships / rub it in their face. How do you guys handle this?

I know this isn't much for the WSO world. But it still seems like a lot coming out of college for the people I grew up with.

Comments (59)

Dec 18, 2017 - 11:49pm
MarthaStewartsAFelon, what's your opinion? Comment below:
I'll be a first year analyst making around 150-200k next year.

150-200k as a first year IB analyst?

Dec 19, 2017 - 11:39am
TrackBack, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I wouldn't lie to your family. That's just being such a duplicitous pussy. Tell them the truth - that you work a shit ton of hours and if you do good work, you'll get a strong bonus and make a lot of money. If they're actually your family, they'll be happy for you and that's it.

You can sort of bend the truth with your friends, sure, but idk why they'd be asking exactly how much you're making or what not. Just sort of say you're making good money and deflect the conversation.

Of course, you're not really making that much money to be lying in the first place. Yeah, above average, but your comp is heavily discretionary and you might not get as much as you think, your rent and COL in NY is gonna be high, and idk, even 200 is not that much money to be making that you should be sneaking around about it.

Dec 21, 2017 - 11:55am
BatemanBatemanBateman, what's your opinion? Comment below:

For a 21 year old - 200k is a fuck ton / towards the HIGHEST end of the spectrum in terms of compensation.

The national median income is $49k.....for all ages.

My response is removing the family aspect from it. Just trying to shed some statistical light that the numbers thrown around on this forum are not in the same atmosphere of what is considered 'normal' or 'average' to the regular American

Dec 24, 2017 - 3:32pm
Scott Irish, what's your opinion? Comment below:

See the problem is most of you guys weren't reading this forum around '09 or you'd know 500k is middle class in NYC. Can't remember the poster who said that but he wasn't alone in the sentiment.

OP just evade, it's rude to ask you Exact #, tell them you do pretty well and are fortunate, etc etc

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Dec 19, 2017 - 5:59pm
orangemarker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you have a good relationship with your family, I wouldn't lie to them.

Harder to say when it comes to friends. Not sure if it's the best way to go about it, but I usually just try to shrug off the question or just say something like "a decent amount" or say "not enough" and laugh it off.

Frankly it also kinda depends on which friends. If they're in a relatively similar professional circle, then i might give a slightly more specific answer than with friends who aren't as familiar with the industry. I generally don't give specific numbers or ranges but I'd say I'm probably a bit more open with friends who either already have a decent idea of what the number is or seem inclined to google it anyways.

Agree that you want to avoid coming across like your'e rubbing it in. I'm sure your good friends would be happy for you but no reason to bring it up if they're job searching you know? I don't think there'd be much enjoyment to be had "showing off" in that respect

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Best Response
Dec 21, 2017 - 10:06am
George_Banker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You are worried about your friends thinking that you think you're better than them. You probably already think that regardless of what your salary is. The numbers don't make a difference man, I can tell you're going to try to show that you make a lot anyway. Your friends either already know this about you and don't care, or you have changed anyway and they won't like you because of it, no matter what your salary is.

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Dec 22, 2017 - 12:27pm
kayz08, what's your opinion? Comment below:

you're damn right lol. The nanas don't lie

Absolute truths don't exist... celebrated opinions do.
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Dec 21, 2017 - 11:33am
traderlife, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Family the truth. Friends acquaintances different.

I think for a job description I'd say investment banking is like being a real estate agent for companies. More complex but similar.

Dec 21, 2017 - 11:34am
Redacted, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The reality is that for most (not necessarily all) of us it was in fact our own doing that as smug, newly minted analysts we found ways to "innocently" steer the conversation to a point where we were backed into a corner and just had to (with the greatest of humility) admit to our friends and family that we would be joining the top 0.5-1% of earners our age. If you need ideas on how to draw out the inquiry without tipping your hand that you're dying to share, you can try, "Yea I mean, the hours are insane, but that's why no one would do the job unless they were compensated an equally insane amount" or "i hate how much they weight overall compensation to a discretionary bonus. It's really hard to live in NYC on an $85k so having to wait until the end of the year for the other 40-50% of compensation is tough" or my favorite, "it's ridiculous how consumed with looks and appearance the people I work with are. Oh well, that's what happens when you give some kid fresh out of college $150k (exasperated sigh and eye roll)"

But seriously, i have found it rarely comes up organically. If they straight up ask you then tell them the truth if they don't, then don't try to work it in. Save it for the ones who will really care, the girls you're trying to impress at the bar.

"I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."

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Dec 21, 2017 - 2:31pm
BankerLivesMatter, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I wouldn't tell girls at all. This is how I know you're inexperienced with dating. She'll have you take her out to dinners while she goes home to the personal trainer. Don't be surprised if she miraculously gets pregnant. When you're highly successful that's when you have to watch your back the most with females.

It's natural to talk about IB ish as analyst because that's your life. Try to stay fit and have a few hobbies. Always seek common ground with people. If your buddy's an Apartment Leasing agent try to work in a few tidbits on Real Estate, etc. It's not hard.

Work hard, work clean, & most of all do not give up.
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Dec 21, 2017 - 3:00pm
Redacted, what's your opinion? Comment below:

True, my wife no longer allows me to date.

"I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."

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Dec 21, 2017 - 11:51am
Addinator, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm a believer that, generally, unless you are very close with someone and there is a logical reason that you are talking about exactly how much you make; it's literally none of their business. Especially if you know the number is going to shock/shame/ignite them. I would simply say, like others, that you make a pretty good living and work an appropriate amount of time given that.

Don't be that guy who suddenly feels more masculine, alpha, etc. because you make a lot more than other people in your town, age range, etc. No one, frankly, gives a flying fuck about it and you really will only come off as a prick especially if you enjoy it as you said in the short term. No one should be ashamed of being successful, working hard and making a ton of money but there is literally no upside or need to put it out there in 99% of cases.

Dec 21, 2017 - 12:39pm
Esuric, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I bring it up any chance I get, particularly to my brother.

“Elections are a futures market for stolen property”
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Dec 21, 2017 - 1:59pm
thebrofessor, what's your opinion? Comment below:

biggest faux pas of my generation: talking about how much money they make with people who have no business knowing. my partners & I all know what each other make, as it should be in any business venture, but I don't know what any of my friends make, and I like it that way.

if you volunteer the information, you're a tool. if you get asked the question, it's likely by someone who's a tool. do what I do "I'm doing great, but the number is none of your business."

what's the upside? they likely are only asking because they view money as a scoreboard and want to ensure they make more than you.

if your family's conversations are so dull that you talk about how much money each other makes, I feel sorry for you. the only time I've discussed money with family and friends is when I'm giving them financial advice or job advice (weighing 80k offer in chicago versus 90k offer in NYC, for example).

only people who should know how much you make: the IRS, your spouse, your business partners/employer, and you.

Dec 21, 2017 - 3:15pm
My Name is Jeff, what's your opinion? Comment below:

"if you get asked the question, it's likely by someone who's a tool."

My dad, mom, uncles, aunts, both grandmas, some cousins. Everyone except other cousins, my brother and my grandpa. Guess my family is a hardware store.

Disclaimer: Asian family

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."
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Dec 21, 2017 - 3:44pm
MusicCityBoer, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you do it right, the IRS shouldn't know about everything.

University of Chicago
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Dec 21, 2017 - 3:27pm
the_gekko, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I told the truth to anyone that asks. I've worked damn hard to get where I am so I'm not even a little bit ashamed or apologetic. A lot of my friends no longer keep in touch because they feel inadequate. Do I feel bad? Fuck no. I got new friends. By letting money get in between our friendship they showed their true colors. I don't want those types of shallow people in my life anyway (unless they are Megan Fox, Scarlet Johanson, Kerry Washington, Katrina Kaif, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillian, Priyanka Chopra, Bridget Reagan, Constance Wu, Hilarie Burton, Karen Fukuhara or any supermodel or Victoria's Secret Angels; they get to do what they want). Here is the bottom line: live your life and live it proud; for anyone who has an issue with how much you make or how you spend it, well that is their problem and not yours.

"I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing. " -GG
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Dec 21, 2017 - 3:35pm
APAE, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Unlike everyone beating on the guy for the question he asked, I read it as a sincere question from someone who may be fairly grounded and is likely way more familiar with the smallish home town than the city life he's about to step into. Those last two sentences are the giveaway in my book.

Personally (this is admittedly subjective), I think there are two safe options in general when it comes to discussing comp. Either take a strict no-hard-numbers-with-anyone approach, or a really guarded 'real friends can know but everyone else gets either a rough number or complete evasion'.

The former applies particularly if you have a family that's very intimate and used to sharing all kinds of personal details. That's often the case with families from lower-income or 'lower class' backgrounds. All kinds of fascinating sociological research has been done on this, by the way. Families with less in terms of material possessions are often very emotive and expressive ('wealth of the heart'), while families with more are often reserved and emotionally guarded. Jessi Streib wrote a book on this that I found fascinating (The Power of the Past: Understanding Cross-Class Marriages). I found her and the book in an article I thought I read in either the NYT or WaPo, but I'm failing to find it on Google right now.

For someone from a background like this, it might feel like an act of intense disloyalty to not share something about themselves like the total comp at a great first job. I think many users here are a bit shortsighted and fail to consider anything other than their own circumstances.

If you're from a background where $175k all-in for your first year comp is nothing other than expected (and perhaps both of your parents and the entire extended social set you grew up with are all people with high-octane careers and multiple graduate degrees), yeah, it may seem foreign to have to weigh how much about your success you can safely disclose. If you're not from that social stratum though, it's a real thing to deal with.

Again, in the example of the 'tell no one' approach, you can save yourself a lot of headache, both explicit and implicit. Explicitly, you may get hit with "great, now you can help pay for your sister's college" from one of your parents or some other direct ask for financial contribution. Implicitly, the little stuff proves to (a) be not-so-little and (b) add up quickly. Things like everyone looking slightly uncomfortable and glancing at you when the check comes at a family meal out. Texts from your siblings with links to slightly more expensive presents for Mom or Dad and an "I was thinking we could get this for them this year".

Worse, the gossip is inescapable. It can be either ignorance or actual malice, but it's almost inevitable that if you tell your family, Mom or sis or somebody leaks it to so-and-so, and before you know it, a lot of people you grew up with found out the real number. It could be simple joy "I'm so happy for 'mooby'!" or mean grumbling "You'll never believe what he's getting! I work so hard and it's not fair."

I've personally found that it's smart to evade in whatever way seems best to you (kind: "Mom, I won't even know until the end of the year, and I have no idea what it could be this year" / brusque: "That's none of your business").

The other option is to keep it within the circle of people you can trust, whether that's family or classmates you're close with or your coworkers if it's a place with strong camaraderie and little variation in comp within the same title.

Either way, safer is better than sorry, and the simple fact that you're questioning whether to disclose this at all is in my opinion highly indicative of which route you should take.

Good luck, it's not an easy thing at all and I'm sorry some of the earlier replies here were so unkind. I don't get the sense that you're someone who is trying to flaunt it.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

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Dec 21, 2017 - 4:38pm
APAE, what's your opinion? Comment below:

+1 - that is correct, thanks for digging it up.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

Dec 21, 2017 - 9:51pm
Naoki Hanzawa, what's your opinion? Comment below:

How much you make is no one business. Throughout the years, I had learned this the hard way.

If anyone ask you about your salary. Just say: - industry standard - not bad - not as much as I want to - okay - livable

Do not tell them exactly how much you make at all cost.

If people knew that you make "a lot of" money, then: - they will borrow money from you - they will expect free gifts from you - they will expect you to pay for everything - they will expect you to pay for your siblings' expenses - they will be jealous of you that you make more money than them - they will try to charge you more for the same services/products

Dec 22, 2017 - 7:53am
datguy345, what's your opinion? Comment below:

i just give an estimate and keep it moving.

Dec 23, 2017 - 4:02am
Hocikto, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Some of the answers on here shock me, but of course they shouldnt. Clearly there are too many pretentious tools in this industry and are probably overrepresented on this forum. My current estimate is a 25/75 normal/tool ratio, with my estimate getting worse since i moved to the buyside a few years ago. So OP - dont take 75% of the advice on here as it just comes from douchebags. So, lesson from captain obvious here - NEVER EVER tell anyone 'not enough'. If you do or think of doing that youre just a pretentious douchebag. And you will rightly lose your friends for it. You can say that to the rest of the pretentious tools in the industry, as that is just the name of the game, but never ever to a normal person. I hope that is obvious to good people. Guys on here saying theyre not ashamed they lost friends because their friends felt inadequate are just pretentious tools - it was probably their fault for making them feel inadequate by saying things like 'lets go to [name of restaurant your friend cant afford] for dinner to catch up', totally dropping the ball on politeness and emotional intelligence by doing so. I have never lost an old non finance friend on account of my job or salary, and I am the best earner among them by a mile. I even have a friend who is a tax accountant who does my taxes hence knows exactly what my income is, and there is no issue. Now OP, by posting this question on here I am assuming you are not an outright typical pretentious tool. Bravo, you seem to be trying to avoid being one. Here is my view - there is no reason why you should not tell your family, if they do ask (mine never has). There is also no reason to tell your friends a number, telling them its one of the best paying jobs you can get out of college should be enough. Of course it is up to you to decide and decipher if these questions are coming from people who care too much about this kind of stuff and are tools and not worth having as friends as another commenter above rightly said, or if its just down to a small town mentality where there is no stigma or taboo associated to such very private questions. I have never told anyone except my wife exactly how much i earn for what its worth (and my tax accountant of course).

Dec 26, 2017 - 3:30am
Hocikto, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Read 'normal person' as someone on a normal/average level of income. I hastily wrote the comment and clearly should have thought someone would try and construe me writing that as a superiority type thing... guess the post wasnt clear enough

Dec 23, 2017 - 12:55pm
TheNameOzzyBIsAlreadyTake, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The kind with low self-confidence.

Or they may be the type to not give 2 shits or dare I say...even be proud of you as family (gasp), and OP just thinks very highly of himself and is anticipating this shit in his head LOL. This question is already an indication that he/she equates earning power (and maybe even just their own earning power) with both character and status.

To be fully honest, its threads like this, that let me judge someone anonymously and make me feel morally superior, that make me love WSO!

And finally, those who can somewhat relate to OP and are trying to defend or otherwise clarify/interpret his intentions in a positive light are also capable of thinking on the same wavelength, and are equally pieces of shit! See ya!

Dec 23, 2017 - 3:05pm
xxx-ThrowAway-xxx, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Vague is good... lying is bad. "it varies year to year" "i wont really know until the end of the year" "Not sure but sounds about industry average" are good and most people wont really press further but if they do, I would really avoid using concrete numbers. Lying is bad, because in the instance they do find out (via online research, meeting someone else in the industry, seeing your apt and realizing the numbers don't add up) they will feel really betrayed - doubly so if you initially tell them "not enough"

Sounds like you have a good head on your shoulder and the fact that you're thinking about this ahead of time should mean you'll be okay. I know obviously IB earnings arent in the same caliber, but if you want to get an idea for how well things will work out for you if you start paying for home-town friends/families stuff, look up the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary "Broke" - it's about professional athletes that went broke (mostly bc hometown financial drain)

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Dec 24, 2017 - 8:53pm
Going Concern, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Lying is bad, because in the instance they do find out (via online research, meeting someone else in the industry, seeing your apt and realizing the numbers don't add up) they will feel really betrayed - doubly so if you initially tell them "not enough"

The purpose of "not enough" isn't to give false modesty... it's to communicate that you're not satisfied, because NEWSFLASH... no one is satisfied with what they make, even millionaire earners. It is the universal human condition. Whether you're a minimum wage worker or C-level exec/partner, people always want more. Someone who doesn't understand that this is what you mean probably isn't too bright

Telling someone exactly how much you make is an unquestionably bad idea, whether that number is too low, too high, or anything else

Dec 24, 2017 - 7:32pm
duey_dun_did_it_again, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you live in NYC or dc 150k isn't much. Consider that a home in DC or NYC will cost you about a million dollars. Add to this the fact that you work 80 hours a week(2 jobs) and your 150k is just an average wage in these areas, although it may sound impressive to your ignorant family members

Dec 25, 2017 - 4:45am
Hayek, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You don't need a million dollars to own a home you moron, only a small % of people in DC and NYC could afford a home that expensive, and 150k is a lot of money regardless of who you are or how much you work. There are plenty of recent immigrants working 6-7 days a week for 10-12 hour days who have almost no hope of ever making close to 150k.

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Dec 25, 2017 - 9:30am
duey_dun_did_it_again, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Oh you mean you can get a mortgage, groundbreaking!!

150 is not a lot in DC. I live in Florida and renting a 1200 sq ft home costs $1000-$1200 a month, with q large backyard and a front yard. The cost of these houses is between 160-190k.

My brother pays $1650+150 parking in DC . $1800 a month and its a 350 sq ft efficiency.

Home prices are closely related to cost of living... Moron.

Dec 25, 2017 - 4:43am
Hayek, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Dec 25, 2017 - 2:33pm
H13x, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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No pain no game.

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