Asking for expected bonus numbers - taboo?


Just wondering if its okay to ask HR about expected bonus numbers for next year, or if its frowned upon. I have an offer from a mm bank outside of new york and wanted to get a better idea of what to expect should I accept. Would contacting one of the junior bankers I met during interviews be more appropriate?

I remember something like this being up a couple of weeks ago but I cant seem to find it ...

Comments (31)

Dec 2, 2009 - 1:40am

You may want to get feedback from a bunch of people first... but you generally have to play it by ear. Either ask the person who you're negotiating your comp package with, or just ask HR. Just don't be wierd about it. Just say something like "I know bonus is discretionary and based off of a variety of factors, but I was wondering what the general range is of what someone in my position would be receiving."

Thats the best way and I think its a fair question. A large portion of total comp is bonus, no one is sweating it out all year for that fat base salary and 10K bonus, so you should have an idea of what total comp will be.

Dec 2, 2009 - 1:41am

Asking about bonuses internally (analyst level) (Originally Posted: 06/05/2010)

Friend is interning as a summer analyst in a group where it's very hard/impossible to obtain color on the bonus situation for analysts through publicly available sources. I didn't know what to tell her.

How would one go about trying to figure out what bonuses look like internally? Is there any good way to do this? I feel like it's one of those things that shouldn't be taboo to ask a boss before accepting a FT offer (it's only fair to know how much you're getting paid, right?), but since finance is weird, you would come off like an asshole.

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks. (As bribery, I have 8 unused silver bananas for good responses!)

Dec 2, 2009 - 1:42am

Her best bet is to befriend some of the analysts during her summer gig and when the inevitable discussion about bonuses comes up she can casually ask, "what is the typical range for the analysts last year"? or "are the analysts here usually paid above or below market?"

While she has to be careful not to seem too intrusive, asking this is context with an analyst you've worked with all summer in my opinion is a totally legitimate question. Plus, you are likely to get a more honest / detailed / better answer than if you asked your "boss", like a VP or associate...they would likely just say that their bank is at market or above market.

Good Luck,

Dec 2, 2009 - 1:44am

It hasn't really been a big deal for me. I asked when bonuses were paid out out of curiosity and one of the analysts just volunteered how big his bonus was this year and what he's expecting next year. Since generally most analysts get the same, I don't think they mind too much about you just outright asking.

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Dec 2, 2009 - 1:49am

I asked the question when I accepted my offer, but I can't say i'd recommend it in hindsight. If you're going to ask, I wouldn't ask what the range could be. I'd phrase it as:

As a reference point and to assist with my financial planning, can you tell me approximately what prior 1st year analysts received?

Lot harder to B.S. around the question when phrased that way.


Dec 2, 2009 - 1:54am

This is a dicey question. The best way (as CompBanker mentioned) is to ask what they have given in the past. That way they can't dodge it with "it's performance and market based, and not guaranteed", and you also don't look like you have $ signs in your eyes.

- Capt K - "Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, bait the hook with prestige." - Paul Graham
Dec 2, 2009 - 1:57am

I asked the question after receiving my first offer. I think it's completely understandable for a person receiving a job offer to want a clear idea of what their all-in comp will be. So much of a bankers yearly comp is in their bonus, it seems completely reasonable to ask.

I just basically asked if they gave any kind of guidance for the % of salary that they generally try to pay out in bonuses, at whatever level you are (analyst, associate, etc.).

Dec 2, 2009 - 1:58am

Is it OK to ask for guidance on bonus? (Originally Posted: 10/05/2011)

I bagged an offer in a large bank's investment management group. Awesome.

One problem: I have literally no idea what the position's bonus potential is.

Now that I'm looking for an apartment, &c, I need to know how much to budget. Is it OK to ask for guidance (e.g. a broad range) for what to anticipate? Or would this come off as gauche?

Dec 2, 2009 - 1:59am

Absolutely ask, just be tactful about it. Also, given the current market conditions, it's also probably good advice to plan to live within your base salary regardless of what they tell you.

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