How to break the cycle of being underpaid

Guys, I'm tired of it…how do you break the cycle of being underpaid? I've done everything you're supposed to do…brokerage, business school, lending and acquisitions, but underpaid and making peanuts compared to everyone else. I'm not getting ahead in life due to student loans and inflation and would like to land at a spot where I can get paid market and stick with the firm.

What is one to do when the man keeps screwing you?

Comments (23)

2mo
Isanyonehome, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sounds like you need a dose of reality. When you've made it to the level you're at, "the man" hasn't screwed you. To 99% of the population, you've made it.

In this business, the income will come, just put your time in. The real money comes when you get a piece of the business (carry, promote, etc.), so do whatever you have to do to get to that level.

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  • Associate 3 in RE - Comm
2mo

Everyone's experience will be different but I think there are fundamentally two routes:

1- Go to the big firms with standard pay (MF PE, Investment Managers, Life Co, Banks, etc.) up until senior levels there are defined pay bands so you know exactly what you're getting up front.  If you end up at one of these firms as long as you put your nose to the grindstone you'll eventually get paid handsomely.  

2- Smaller and midsize firms with non-standard pay -  Diligence the firms upfront as best you can, do people outside of the ownership chain get paid reasonably well / part of the carry/promote? Capital raising capacity? You likely won't be making bank upfront like the group 1, but become invaluable to the guys running the firm / your boss, make aggressive (but reasonable with evidence to support) during review times.   Most principals aren't dumb, they know good talent is worth paying for because no one worth their salt will stick around for shit pay after a while.  If you don't sense you are on a good trajectory within 12-24 months then cut bait and move on. 

I will say with the condition of the job market past 24 months getting market pay shouldn't have been an issue.

2mo
jayflip21, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's for sure a candidate's market, and getting market pay is definitely achievable. I'm hearing about so many people switching jobs in the last year or so, and a lot of it is coming with that bump people are looking for!

Array
2mo
mrcheese321, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What are you making right now and what do you think is "market" for your role?

I didn't start making the "big bucks" until I was around 35, leading a group. Up to that point I was in institutional world which has tight pay bands; not that I was paid badly, but it wasnt crazy money either.

In my experience it happens, it just takes time.

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2mo
mrcheese321, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What market and how are your hours?

One thing to consider on carry: it sounds great until you (1) get a copy of all of the rules attached, (2) realize it is just a tool to keep you handcuffed to your job and (3) realize you can't eat it and (4) you handicap if you are going to realize the return to get it paid out. I had carry/LTIP at my old find that I ended up leaving on the table because I wasn't going to wait 5 years to get paid an extra 150k when I only had a 50/50 chance of it paying out.

2mo
CREnadian, what's your opinion? Comment below:

First of all, $20k/year is not going to be life changing, secondly carry is VERY rare at associate level unless you go to a small shop. Ability to co-invest at the project level is more likely.

Lastly, are you happy otherwise at your current job? The easiest way to get to market is to start talking to recruiters and compile 5 or 6 salary comps from other companies hiring associates in your market, and use those numbers to negotiate a raise with your boss.

2mo
Bonobo8, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Interview for other roles and don't take another position unless the salary is market. Based on your experience it seems like earlier in your career you were focused on experience over pay and were accepting jobs with below market salaries to progress in the industry. Now that you have a reasonable amount of experience and credibility I don't see why you would accept less than market and employers should understand that. 

2mo
Ozymandia, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Associate 1 in RE - Other

Guys, I'm tired of it…how do you break the cycle of being underpaid? I've done everything you're supposed to do…brokerage, business school, lending and acquisitions, but underpaid and making peanuts compared to everyone else. I'm not getting ahead in life due to student loans and inflation and would like to land at a spot where I can get paid market and stick with the firm.

What is one to do when the man keeps screwing you?

Realize that you aren't the protagonist of every story, take an honest look in the mirror, and understand that maybe you aren't underpaid, you just aren't worth as much to the world as you think you are?

People get underpaid for a year or two here or there while they gain experience.  If you've been at this for many years, and it sounds like you have, then it is highly likely you are getting paid what you're worth.  After all, if there was someone willing to pay you more, you'd be out there working for them.

  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm
2mo

Put yourself on the other side. Your employers may not want to shell out for somebody that hasn't been around very long. It sounds like you've moved around a lot. Sometimes you need to get lucky and get in at the ground level and stick it out with a growing team.

  • Analyst 3+ in PE - Other
2mo

I'm at a small firm getting below market (100k+20-50% bonus)

Getting head hunters asking me for asset management jobs at the high 200s to mid 300s all in. So ehh they exist. Those jobs sound awful though and I would rather sit here for another year or two and get more than actually leave and work that much harder.

2mo
Gucci Loafers, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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