Does anything pay better than finance?

If we looked at jobs purely for monetary purposes, does anything beat out finance?

Engineers/hard science professions usually don't earn that much starting out and their salaries don't grow that much. Engineers with 15 years of experience could only be earning 150-200k. Heck, auditors probably earn more than many engineers. In medicine, you start working in your early 30s and very rarely do you break mid-six figures unless you're in a very competitive field (cardiologists for example).

If you work in IB, you start out making 6 figures and then once you're in your mid-30s you could be making millions as an MD or go the PE route and potentially earn more. This is extremely rare for any job except for Biglaw and top software engineers but neither of these pay more than finance in general. They pay equal to or slightly lower.

So is finance the highest you could go from a purely earning perspective.

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Comments (136)

Funniest
Dec 13, 2018

This is such a WSO-type question

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Dec 23, 2018

I'm genuinely curious, wondering what other career paths could lead to the same income as finance.

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Most Helpful
Dec 13, 2018
sheperd99:

I'm genuinely curious, wondering what other career paths could lead to the same income as finance.

Technically, all of them. Rise to the top, entrepreneur it up, and target IBD level income. Not easy, but it's technically possible in nearly every career out there.

The problem I have with this thread is, people should already know this. But we don't because for some reason most people seem to expect that it's structurally correct that a small handful of companies get to be billion dollar behemoths, leverage all market power, and there are few to no smaller players.

In actuality the world might function better on the consumer level if there was more parity across the board and a higher number of competitive players.

And, the fact that the main concern, at least on this board, is marginal pay, it's distirbing. I don't see enough interest in a field, and instead the focus is all on getting out of debt and making enough to not have to worry, which is only in the marginal pay increase from one field to the next.

In short, it's disturbing that the world, this country, is set up so that even the middle class is struggling to feel sufficient under the mountain of net negative payments, especially when we're living in some of the richest times in history.

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Dec 14, 2018

Wish I could upvote this twice

Dec 14, 2018

I doubt that people are unaware it's possible to make a ton of money as an entrepreneur (people are very familiar with Gates/Bezos/Zuch's stories at the least) - most people just lack the risk tolerance (or financial safety net) and skills necessary to start a business successfully.

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Dec 14, 2018

It's a great point you're making and the reason I believe college as we know it will not exist much longer. The schools will have to reinvent themselves and some will, but the end result will be something completely different than what we know today. Shorter degree programs and much more integration with the real world. It will no longer be the norm for 18 year olds to spend four years focusing on textbook learning and having fun while earning negative money.

Decades of high GDP growth allowed a system to grow where all people needed to do is "break in" to the right industry and be all set after that. The future looks different, which means people will actually have to think about where they will add the most value instead of just breaking into whatever industry they think pays the best.

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Dec 13, 2018

senior software/hardware engineer at apple/facebook/google could hit 400k-500k after about 10 years...and then you either hit a comfortable ceiling...or you start a startup and try to get some VC money.

*not everybody is smart enough to be able to be a senior software engineer at these firms...and they are more selective than wall street (for good reason....they are "smarter"...but they make less money....so you could argue if they are really smarter...)

alas...these positions do not pay better than wall street front office...they should, because they are actually creating things of value...but they don't

just google it...you're welcome

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Dec 23, 2018

Couldn't you keep moving up the ladder until you get to Principal/Distinguished Engineer? Also, doesn't Google have a partner-equivalent position called "Google Fellow" or something like that?

Dec 13, 2018
faceslappingcompilation:

alas...these positions do not pay better than wall street front office...they should, because they are actually creating things of value...but they don't

Yeah and Wall St. front office doesn't create value? wtf

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Dec 14, 2018

I come from a software background and while what you state can be correct, most people overestimate how many of these people exist and they woefully underestimate the age discrimination in tech. The reality is that computer science/engineering is more and more widespread and a top grad fresh out of school can make about $60k/year. So do you keep the $400K guy or get 6-7 grads for the same price? I'd say there's less than 1-2 dozen people in the world that fit the profile you describe.

Dec 14, 2018
GoingToBeAnMD:

I come from a software background and while what you state can be correct, most people overestimate how many of these people exist and they woefully underestimate the age discrimination in tech. The reality is that computer science/engineering is more and more widespread and a top grad fresh out of school can make about $60k/year. So do you keep the $400K guy or get 6-7 grads for the same price? I'd say there's less than 1-2 dozen people in the world that fit the profile you describe.

new grads at those companies make $150k in total comp.

source: I interviewed at one and have friends in that world

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Dec 14, 2018

At what level are you talking about? MBA? If you're talking grad, sure, I'd buy that. But undergrad with a CS degree and fresh out? I'd have to see some references before believing that.

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Dec 14, 2018

undergrad

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Dec 14, 2018

You're most likely talking about an edge case. But if you have a source on this, I'd be happy to see it.

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Dec 14, 2018

An edge case would be folks at the quant finance firms grossing $200K+ in their first year.

https://www.levels.fyi/SE/Uber/Google/Facebook - the first rung on that ladder is where undergrads come in at.

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Dec 16, 2018

Truth that shocks their narrative

Dec 26, 2018

Nah the entry level CS roles at a top 10 tech firm(Apple, MSFT, Google, etc) are over 100k. Just look at your schools engineering job placements page. The high salary for the CS major is over 100k if your school has a decently reputable engineering program. Facebook/Google interns get paid just as much as Goldman interns too, and arguably better perks (boat cruises in the SF bay, etc..). There is usually less room to find the higher paying 400-500k jobs since a lot of developers stay between 150-200k for their careers, but if you're a go getter you can go get. A disproportionate amount of CEO's were engineers initially.

Dec 14, 2018

Not sure what you're talking about here.. total comp is closer to 130-180k at entry level in top tech.. how does it then follow that engineers at those companies are stuck at 150-200? if you were stuck there (i.e. a low level), you'd probably get fired if anything for not at least advancing to senior.

Dec 14, 2018

I don't think the kids from top schools who are choosing the valley over wall st are doing it for anything close to 60k. My guess is the engineering pay is not far short of finance pay. You can choose to believe that hordes of smart kids are choosing tech because they feel they're doing better for the world, but I certainly don't believe that. I think greed is alive and well and the tech firms wouldn't be able to compete if they weren't in the ballpark.

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Dec 24, 2018
PteroGonzalez:

I don't think the kids from top schools who are choosing the valley over wall st are doing it for anything close to 60k. My guess is the engineering pay is not far short of finance pay. You can choose to believe that hordes of smart kids are choosing tech because they feel they're doing better for the world, but I certainly don't believe that. I think greed is alive and well and the tech firms wouldn't be able to compete if they weren't in the ballpark.

I have interviewed people from Google, Facebook and pretty much every other hot software firm (probably most quant firms have) who initially bought the idea of "interesting work for good pay". It's a different pay progression and it's a very different life style. Comparing "high software" to "high finance" is pretty much impossible.

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Dec 14, 2018

Not surprised. My guess is that I'd absolutely hate day-to-day work at a tech firm even though I follow the sector closely. The actual problems that need to be solved everyday are probably rabbit holes so deep that an outside observer wouldn't even be able to tell the work is being done for a tech firm. Plus I can't imagine how many bridge-to-nowhere projects must exist for each one that's impactful.

Dec 14, 2018

I work at a tech SaaS. We pay the role Software Engineer - Entry level around 150K. It's not uncommon

edit- I do not work at one of the FAANG companies

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Dec 16, 2018

$CRM?

Dec 18, 2018

Best gig around. Looking to move into an AE role right now.

Dec 14, 2018
GoingToBeAnMD:

At what level are you talking about? MBA? If you're talking grad, sure, I'd buy that. But undergrad with a CS degree and fresh out? I'd have to see some references before believing that.

I have a good friend of mine who went to a top 50 school on the West Coast. Straight out of undergrad works for a well established social media firm. Total comp is $127k. CS Major.

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Dec 15, 2018

Work at a FAANG, can confirm that new grads get paid 110k base, 65k signing bonus, and 150k equity vesting in 4 years, all in for first year: 212.5

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Dec 14, 2018
laxskill:

Work at a FAANG, can confirm that new grads get paid 110k base, 65k signing bonus, and 150k equity vesting in 4 years, all in for first year: 212.5

I am questioning my life decisions. Thanks.

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Dec 15, 2018

It's completely different type of work and environment from finance though and as someone mentioned below even if you get promoted your salary second year probably won't be as different or maybe below first year if you don't get promoted due to signing bonus. Should also mention that there is a bonus for performance but it's 10% of base for majority of people.

Dec 14, 2018

signing bonus shouldn't be counted in total comp..

Dec 24, 2018

I have a friend at FB that started at $150k right after undergrad, that is the norm for the big tech software engineers.

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Dec 14, 2018

The only reason we have companies the likes of FAANG is because of wall street front office. How is a debt or equity issuance or M&A not adding value? Providing companies with the means to grow absolutely adds value... dumb

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Dec 14, 2018

IB is just a middle-man to the ultimate goal (e.g. issuing debt/equity, acquiring or being acquired by another company, etc.). You don't make the deal possible, you facilitate it, due to the inherent complexity of such transactions and, not insignificantly, due to SEC regs regarding how securities can be marketed and sold to the general public. And to the extent you can rely on the Fed as a final backstop if things go south, the bank's not even taking on real risk (unlike the tech company clients, who I doubt are considered TBTF by the government).

You may be "adding value" in the context of the current regulatory environment, which makes things needlessly costly and complex, but deals would still get done bilaterally if IB didn't exist.

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Dec 14, 2018

deals would still get done bilaterally if IB didn't exist.

Sure, back before currency, securities, corporations and other commercial innovations existed. Merchants and dealers have pretty much become an integral piece to why our economic systems even work.

Dec 14, 2018

The only reason we have FAANG is because of Wall Street front office? The only reason? And you made this comment for the purpose of highlighting someone else's stupidity? Amazing.

Dec 14, 2018

companies the likes of FAANG...meaning the size of the company and how fast they were able to grow. The reason they're able to grow so fast and become as big as they are is ability to raise capital and M&A, which is almost always facilitated by Wall Street banks.

Dec 14, 2018

They wouldn't grow without bathrooms either, should janitors be paid as much as bankers?

Yes you need capital to grow a business. But if the capital is a commodity, then it's hardly "the reason" they're able to grow.

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Dec 17, 2018

Also they took advantage of the lack of regulation when it comes to data--which fueled their meteoric rise. Imagine if governemnt had regulated the use of personal data before companies like FAANG were around? These companies wouldn't be where they are today assuming they were even able to exist.

Dec 19, 2018

They would exists. They would not be nearly as profitable.

Social networking and internet search were always going to exists. Monetization beyond banner ads may have been a problem.

Array
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Dec 17, 2018

They certainly would, but when VCs are making their risk calculations, they would hesitate investing considering the regulations on the fuel for these business. Know a former VP for J. Walter Thompson, who started as an ad exec in the 1960s, guy believes if FB/google weren't around, AD agencies would be up there with consulting and banking in terms of the most ambitious careers young people would be pursuing.

Dec 19, 2018

I don't believe fb ever took significant vc money. Off of memory like a couple million was entirely self funding. IPO was cash outs. And at that point it was self funding without using all the data.

Google I'm not sure on their vc funding.

No disagreement advertising would be a great business.

Array
Dec 17, 2018

However, the exercise is pointless, when has the government ever regulated something purely from foresight? They regulate from a reactionary framework. Taleb has this great analogy that congress wouldn't have regulated box cutters in airplanes before 9/11, even considering locked cabins after the high of highjackings during the 1970s--even if a congressperson came up with regulation for locked cabins and a ban on box cutters--the proposal would go nowhere, and would be seen as paranoid/weird (bad for politics). Alas, 9/11 occurs and regulation makes sense. It's the same with data. I cringe whenever congresspeople grill tech execs with questions that a simple google search would have answered--but when watching them ask Sundar whether "google knows if someone walks from one side of the room to another?" and making a massive "scandal" out of that question, gives me little hope they would do something. Europeans are bad motherfuckers, the chick in charge of tech reg is aggressive as fuck, and takes no bullshit from SV types--that's how she rammed GDRP with ease and make billions through fines.

Dec 14, 2018

.

Dec 22, 2018

Compare hours worked per dollar earned and you may find that they actually are much smarter.

Dec 26, 2018

finally someone pointed it out.

if you're an aspiring idiot, keep working hard because right now you're failing

"We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered."

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Dec 16, 2018

Physicians break 6 figures in their sleep. Their fucking nurses break 6 figures a few years into the gig. Are you retarded?

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Dec 23, 2018

MID-six-figures. Learn to read properly before calling people retarded it makes you look bad.

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Dec 13, 2018

Physicians in private practice can make 7 figures easy. Forget the 300-400K, top physicians (and surgeons) make $1-2 mill easy.

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Dec 23, 2018

Seriously? Damn, didn't know doctors pull in that much, is this generally only for top specialties? I wouldn't expect a family physician, pediatrician, geriatrician, etc to ever break far past 500k in their career unless they open their own practice.

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Dec 16, 2018

Dumbass

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Dec 23, 2018

Don't be angry I called you out for not being able to read properly. Also, the dude I was responding to was saying something completely different than what you were saying.

Have fun being stuck at the Big 4 lmao

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Dec 13, 2018

Only dumbass here is you

Dec 13, 2018
The Pharma Guy:

Physicians in private practice can make 7 figures easy. Forget the 300-400K, top physicians (and surgeons) make $1-2 mill easy.

You must think we are in the 90s...those days are essentially over. Easily? My uncle is an oncologist, his reimbursements have gone to absolute shit. He was making 600k/year in the 90s and can barely hit 300k these days after seeing over 20 patients a day. Same shit for OBGYN, Gen Surgery and most other specialties. All surgical specialties are not even close to equal, ortho still decent with good patient outcomes and strong reimbursements, most other surgeons are eating shit. And whatever speciality is getting paid well today - the reimbursement cuts are being scoped out by the gov for tomorrow.

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Dec 13, 2018

No sir, very incorrect. I grant you that breaking $1 million is much harder in places like Europe but in the US it isn't that uncommon as total annual compensation for a physician. It depends on the specialty but cardiology, oncology, surgery, dermatology etc would probably pay $400-500K as salary. Add on top of that having your own practice (which may bring another $200-300K), money from pharma (which in 2017 some 628,000 doctors took in some form or another such as direct payment or research endowments), money to speak at conferences and events plus teaching in universities (conferences and teaching may total $100-150K).

The lower end of that addition (without the pharma money) is $700K with the upper end being $950K. Yes sir, $1 million is very possible for quite a few specialties. But then again, the difference is that people go into IB FOR the money (it is at least 50% of the reason) but I don't think the majority of doctors (at least I would hope not) do.

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Dec 14, 2018

Family member is an interventional radiologist. Can confirm he's probably making about 850k to low 1mm.

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Dec 13, 2018

Go read student doctor forum under the practicing physicians forums and see what's really going on. You are lost and sound like a high school kid.

Private practice model is dying fast.

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Dec 14, 2018
The Pharma Guy:

Physicians in private practice can make 7 figures easy. Forget the 300-400K, top physicians (and surgeons) make $1-2 mill easy.

This is accurate. Not sure why you got MS for it. Another tangent, medical sales can pull in just as much.

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Dec 13, 2018

I think all the MS is coming from the finance hardos who are just finishing college and regret their decision of taking all finance courses or are in their career and realise they wouldn't be able to do anything else in their life. Either way, just accept that there are many jobs out there that pay better in the long run

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Dec 14, 2018

Agree - But don't completely discount the years of school/debt/low paying residency years that have to happen to get there.

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Dec 16, 2018

Isn't private practice going away tho

Dec 13, 2018

where do nurses make 6 figures?

Maybe with a bunch of extra schooling, but that is so far from "normal"

Dec 14, 2018

CRNAs, Nurse Practitioners both pull in $100k+. My aunt is a nursing director and makes $250k.

Dec 16, 2018

I know a "life hack" could be to be an anesthesiologist assistant and pull north of 200k

Dec 13, 2018

Financial advisor here with many clients in nursing, many break $100,000 before 35. But I also live in California which I believe is one of the highest paying states for the profession. Reviewed one portfolio today with spouse B making $137k at age 45ish. They'll get into the mid 200's if they go into management late into the career as well which can lead to some killer pensions. And lets not even get into the perks associated with their health benefits. Nurses make A1 significant others

Cultivating mass and wealth since '95

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Dec 14, 2018
picklemonkey:

where do nurses make 6 figures?

Maybe with a bunch of extra schooling, but that is so far from "normal"

California. Nurses here get a ton of overtime and can really make bank. Especially those working in the ICU. Family member does that for Cedar Sinai out here in LA

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Dec 14, 2018

Nurse Anesthetists - oh yeah, $160K

Dec 13, 2018

If something did pay better, is that what you would pursue? Why?

Life Pro Tip: if you tie your self-worth to your net-worth, you're in for a hurting.

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Dec 23, 2018

Nope, already exactly where I want to be. Just wondering out of curiosity.

Dec 13, 2018

Entrepreneurship / startup has the most upside in your 20's, and it's fairly trivial to raise VC funds (though not in Canada where you are).

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Dec 14, 2018

Tell me more about how it's "fairly trivial to raise VC funds" in your 20s lololololol

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Dec 13, 2018

Sure, assuming you have a pedigree like many banking analysts (H/Y/P/S/W), and put in the equivalent amount of time and effort to a banking Analyst 90-100 hrs/week into ideas and proposals, you could raise VC funds by the time you're done with college.

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Dec 13, 2018

So, try to break down pay in others ways rather than a lump sum. Pay for hour? Finance is a joke. Friends of mine in IB UK make PS50K working 100 hour weeks. Let's say you do 47 weeks of work (5 weeks off in Europe).

$50K/47wk = PS1064/wk

PS1064/100hrs =PS10.6/hr.

Sure, you can be proud of your bigger lump some than most professions but I can guarantee that you're getting that kind of money because you're working like a dog.

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Dec 13, 2018
The Pharma Guy:

Sure, you can be proud of your bigger lump some than most professions but I can guarantee that you're getting that kind of money because you're working like a dog.

Yeah exactly.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Dec 13, 2018

Wait, you mean that in a positive or negative way?

Dec 13, 2018
The Pharma Guy:

Wait, you mean that in a positive or negative way?

hmm I don't really mean it in a positive or negative way, but just objectively.

IB people love to brag about total take home pay plus bonus for the year, but often many other professions pay more on an hourly basis.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Dec 13, 2018

Understood. I agree, I would much rather talk 60-70% the money for half the hours

Dec 14, 2018

There are many ways to skin a cat.

If you look at just the business world there are paths to make $300k+ in any of these:

corporate management, finance, professional services (corporate law, consulting, big accounting, financial advisory, lobbying), entrepreneurship (real entrepreneurship not starting a private practice or contracting or small business but even in those it's possible), sales (headhunting, luxury goods, med/tech/pharma etc)

In the skilled/technical side:

software engineering, quantitative jobs (data science, analytics, economics, etc), design, film/media, academia and industry R&D etc..

On the "servicing people" side:

healthcare (medicine, dentistry), sales (e.g. used cars, insurance, investment advice, residential real estate etc), etc.

There are people making a lot of money in a HUGE array of jobs. Does that mean everyone is qualified or able to make that type of money? No.

Finance is just one field of many with its own barriers to entry and survivorship bias.

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Dec 13, 2018

+SB, couldn't have summed it up in a better way

Dec 14, 2018

"Servicing People"

Nice

Dec 14, 2018

[]

Dec 14, 2018

Get a sense of humor dude. JFC.

Dec 14, 2018

Admittedly, I totally missed that.. Gonna delete

Dec 13, 2018

An important factor is also how difficult it is to reach those high-paying jobs.

If you're aiming for MD / Director / Partner in finance, you (in most cases) need to:

  • Excel academically
  • Get the right experience
  • Land the correct jobs, at the correct divisions, land the best teams
  • Work extremely hard
  • Go to the correct business schools
  • Continue to work extremely hard
  • Engage in office politics

Then maybe, just maybe, you have a shot at MD.

And congrats, by the time you're MD (30's), you're earning mid 6 figures, probably in the highest COL areas in the world.

So while you're getting compensated, the chances of getting there are not good. And it's inherently a risky business, so who knows how long one lasts?

Compare that to dentistry (or something similar), where you work 7 hours a day, never run out of customers, and can set up shop pretty much anywhere you want.

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Dec 13, 2018

This is completely inaccurate.

First of all, MDs earn far more than mid-six figures. Their base is most likely in the mid-six figures but finance is all about the bonuses. MDs at BBs or EBs earn in the seven figures.

Second, that whole list you made applies anywhere. Every job requires you to excel academically, work hard and engage in office politics (minus office politics if you're in entrepreneurship). You think dentists don't work hard to get their client base? Also, landing in the correct division or group doesn't impact your ability to make MD. And if you had the ability to get into a BB, chances are getting into a business school isn't on your list of worries.

Third, NYC isn't the highest COL in the world, don't even think it's in the top 10. Also, high COL isn't only an issue for people in finance. The legal world is in NYC, the tech world is in SF, the entertainment world is in LA. etc.

Fourth, IB isn't as risky as any other job in professional services. If you're bringing in clients you'll have a spot in your firm just like law, consulting, and pretty much any other job on the planet. In the finance world, IB isn't close to considered "risky business", if we were talking about hedge funds, then it'd be different.

Lastly, your whole last paragraph reeks of naivety. "Just become a dentist, work 7 hours a day and earn mid-six figures" far easier said than done. First of all, running your own practice is pretty risky contrary to how you describe it. In fact, private dentistry practices are declining because of all the practices that are opening. Many dentists are also in the negative when they first start their business so if it doesn't take off, they have to worry about repaying their debt, many don't even start making a profit until a few years after they open and that's only breaking even.
You think everyone who opens a dentistry practice gets a full book of clients right off the bat?
Also, how many dentists are earning the same amount of money as an MD? The answer is in the decimals.

Not hating on dentists, just saying that each job takes an amount of effort to get there and I wouldn't say becoming an IB MD and opening a successful dentistry practice, working 7 hours a day and earning mid-six-figure are far off from each other. If it was easy then everyone would be rich.

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Dec 13, 2018

You missed my whole point. What are the chances of someone becoming a top MD at a top WS firm, versus becoming a dentist (or any other high-paying "regular" profession). The things you have to do to become a MD, versus becoming a dentist (working for someone else) isn't even on the same fucking scale.

Let's take Goldman Sachs, for example. 7% of their employees are managing directors - of those, around 65% started out as analysts or associates at the same firm - point us, you really have to be the best of the best to float up there, and it takes a lot more than just hard work. "Yeah but top talent goes other places too", sure, but the ratio still stands wherever you go - there's just a finite number of spots, and the majority will never reach those.

What happens with all the 40-something bankers that didn't get promoted to the top? They continue making a good salary, but not anywhere near as good as the top. And guess what, they may have worked just as hard as those reaching MD.

A lot of (young) people on this forum seem to believe that if you get into banking, you're destined for a top job if you just follow the road map laid out - and somewhere down the road you'll somehow make your mid 6-figures.

So with that in mind, young people / students should absolutely also consider other careers, that will pay comparably well in the long run, but without the added risk, and sacrificing your life to your job.

Let me just hammer this in one last time: There are (Absolutely) well-paying jobs out there that don't require the amount of dedication that top banking does - yes, the reward might be lower, but so is the risk. Discussing high-compensated jobs / careers without mentioning risk is a waste of time.

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Dec 13, 2018

Off the top of my head, very few jobs pay as much cash as finance at an early age. Making $300K+ cash in your late 20's is rare. At top tech firms it's a possibility if you're in engineering or sales but a lot is tied up in options (more so if you're an engineer, salespeople are coin operated). Sales is probably you're best option to match finance cash comp early career. Choose an industry with high margins and customer LTV.

Corporate takes years, and if you top out at Director level, you may be making at 50 what a 29 yo PE VP makes. Doctors don't start making that type of money until their mid-to-late 30's earliest. Big law is no slouch but you will always trail your finance brethren at BBs until you make partner and only then can a rainmaker's compensation reflect their revenue generated.

Entrepreneurship is where things get interesting.

Found a VC-backed startup and you will not touch that type of cash comp for years. Note the cash comp component for these massively successful, pre-IPO companies. These businesses often take 10+ years to build all while you're chronically underpaid. And lists like these have huge selection bias... Then again I doubt anyone founded these businesses for the short term cash comp.

Traditional businesses can generate comparable amounts of cash to what you would make in finance, but most of these folks have had decades in their industry before hanging up their own shingle. Things that come to mind are exec recruiters, specialized consulting, independent lawyers, dev shop, etc. Notice that these types of businesses are service models and optimize for cash now, not long term EV. To build a substantial EV business generally requires capital investment (and therefore lower cash comp) for years. Also, equity value creation usually requires a product or productized service.

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Dec 13, 2018

You should never pursue a line of work purely for monetary gain as you'll never come close to making as much as you can doing something you're passionate about.

When I fell into entrepreneurship/private equity I never did it for the money and I'm netting out low 7 figures at 25 now. My close partners and anyone else I know that's making great money young never did it for the money either. Yeah, it's nice, but you'll burn out way before you start doing well if you do it for nothing but raw cash.

FWIW, I work just as hard as when I was bleeding money and barely making anything as I do now and the only difference is that I have the opportunity to work along brilliant people and outsource all the work I used to hate doing to employees.

Shit like accounting/legal I no longer have to get overly tactical on which is nice. I remember sitting around putting together contracts because I couldn't afford a lawyer...do not miss that one bit...

Dec 14, 2018
m_1:

You should never pursue a line of work purely for monetary gain as you'll never come close to making as much as you can doing something you're passionate about.

Smartest thing said in this whole thread. Took me about 15 years in my professional life to learn this. Now that I'm doing what I'm passionate about, life is so much better and the money has been tremendous. Do what you like and everything else will take care of itself.

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Dec 14, 2018

Anyone can start a cleaning business and break six-figures if you know what you're doing and get repeat clients. I know a few folks who run several businesses netting over half a million yearly.

I would rather do something I am interested in, being able to get up everyday and go to work content and looking forward to being in the office. At some point you will burn out, and eventually lose all interest in that "said" field if you are simply after money. As @princepieman had said, there are many ways to skin a cat.

No pain no game.

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Dec 23, 2018

If you have started a successful and profitable business and you "burn out" or "lose all interest" why not promote an employee to a manager or an exec who will run the company without your input. Chip him/her some equity and make sure they are more passionate about the business than you are. Start a small conglomerate and/or holding company. Create a small version of BRKA.

Are there any cons to this other than loosing control of the companies that you own and having put your faith in another person to provide for your income?

Dec 13, 2018

Another came to mind; pilots. Sure, the lump sum isn't as much as MDs but the top 10% make about $200K (according to this source: https://www.pea.com/airline-pilot-salary/) and I strongly believe the top 1% can break $300K. Add to that all the perks of free flights etc which if valued in dollars would probably equate to another $100-150K per year. But you aren't working nearly as hard as in banking, you get to travel the world and stay in crazy nice places (I met a KLM crew and pilots in Central American that were staying for 4 nights turning around on a red eye in a 5 star hotel and all expenses paid for the entire stay) and genuinely do something you love.

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Dec 14, 2018

You make good points but don't commercial pilots have a forced "age out" at like 50 or something? I'm sure you can teach or do other things after that, but a salary is only as good as you can still make it. What are you going to do after 50 with such a specialized skillset?

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Dec 13, 2018

Yeah I guess that's fair. Private pilot, aviation instructor or something similar comes to mind. Clearly all of these have a pay but you can start aviation school at 18 and graduate by 20ish. You can make that amount for 25-30 solid years. That's a big pension you walk away with

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Dec 17, 2018

Oh gawd, instructing is a complete joke when it comes to pay, unless you're a unicorn military contractor with 30+yrs experience including shooting down a MiG during the Reagan administration, then maybe you may break $120k (assuming your contract company consistnently wins the contracts every fiscal year).

As a fresh faced CFI building hours in order to eventually qualify to fly airlines, you're life will be miserable. Imagine an inexperienced pilot with brand new licences, instructing another completely inexperienced pilot for $20/hr, flying Cessna 172s. Not exactly high pay, fun, or low risk. Regulations bar flying more than 8hrs per day.

Corporate pilots are like escorts on a permanent outcall shift. $80k flying Gulfstreams 550s isn't bad, untill you consider that that amount will barely sustain an acceptable life in some random surburb--you'll not be having a penthouse in the City.

Air show pilots: crowds see you no different than a monkey on a circus act. Pay varies, super competitive, high risk, and even the Red Bull Air race strictly refuses to pay winners to avoid incentivising risky flying.

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Dec 17, 2018

First, yes, the demand for pilots is high, but the training is expensive and the first five years gaining time pay less than $40k in the US. But people who decide to go through the process, generally have a passion for flying, enough to keep them motivated for years.

Second, go overseas however, to emerging countries, a fresh faced ATP from flight school will start $120k as a first officer, and Captains who leave the US and Europe for Dubai and China and other EMs about $200K. Americans are loved by foreign operators, who's societies still view pilots with respect, unlike the US where pilots command the prestige of fork lift operators. Though the prospect of moving their families there usually keeps them from jumping over, and thus they're stuck with US companies. Rarely are there pilots breaking $380k as senior bus drivers in the US.

Move into test piloting, join an aviation startup, or start an aviation logistics company in war zones and remote areas with fat contracts from governments and the UN, then yes you may make 7 digits. But must figure capital expenditures. The Russians are in demand for "goods" fliers to the Congo and there are plenty of contract work to be done in the Af continent--and looking into the geopolitical trends, the US, China and Russia want to influence the region by doing all kinds of activities there--so the customers are there indeed.

With aviation though, aviators are more thrilled by the experience of flying than the money earned. It's almost like paying a sex addict to have sex with an unlimited amount and endless options of partners--it's a win even without getting paid--this is the mindset aviators working as pilots have. Pilots who aren't aviators though, usually don't hack it for long and they're the ones whining about pay.

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Dec 13, 2018

Top notch reply, +1 SB

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Dec 14, 2018

Nothing beats out finance. The sky is the limit when your job is literally to make money. Other careers require you to do some task in exchange for money. In finance, you simply maximize income and bypass the "providing a value added service to society" nonsense.

Pilots for a large US carrier will bring in $400-$500K as a 777 or 787 captain and will work 8 days a month. However, it takes about 20 years to build up to that.

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Dec 17, 2018

Certain these pilots must be charging smuggling fees if they're bringing in $400K+

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Dec 19, 2018

The thing that pays the best is building a platform. Doesn't matter if it's in engineering finance pe etc. The mega rich built platforms.

Microsoft Facebook are platforms. Citadel is a platform other people trade on. Outcome Health before it was exposed for fraud gave the founder a 3.3 billion net worth in his early 30's. Platform.

Basically build something others can build on. But it's not an easy game.

Array
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Dec 14, 2018

Great point ! SB+

"Be persistent and you will get, be consistent and you will keep it, be grateful and you will get more"

phuckQuotes

Dec 14, 2018

Does being an escort count as being in finance?

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Dec 14, 2018

Only if your clients work in finance.

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Dec 17, 2018

.

Dec 14, 2018

Apples to apples? I wouldn't say entering finance is more lucrative than entering engineering when you control for everything.

Finance (I assume we mean the upper end of it . . IB, S&T etc) only recruits top students at good schools. So to compare, you should narrow the pool of engineers to a similar group. That alone narrows the pay gap significantly . . would be surprised if GS is paying that much more than Google to start.

Then you have to account for the fact that engineer promotions are probably a lot more likely. Goldman MD no doubt makes more than the comparable seniority at Google, but I bet a much higher % of Google entry-levels are able to get that promotion.

A fairer comparison is probably percentage based; if 5% of analysts wind up as MDs 10 years later, then take the Google entering class and see what the top 5% make 10 years later.

Also should be some accounting for hours, especially in this day with more and more lucrative outlets for free time (working on a startup or side hustle or whatever).

But it gets even more complicated because the upper end of finance become accessible to engineers later. Look at VC and growth equity partners, I bet you'll find almost as many former engineers as people who went the finance route.

I'll stop there but you get the point . . the more you control the more the gap shrinks. I'd actually bet engineering comes out ahead these days.

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Dec 14, 2018
PteroGonzalez:

Google entering class and see what the top 5% make 10 years later.

The vast majority of engineers at top tech companies hit a ceiling at senior software engineer. Even just the next level above (Staff/E6) is only 4-5% of the engineers at a top tech company at any given time. Once you start talking about MD level comp you're talking about the top 1% of folks who started as engineers. Getting promoted is exponentially harder in a technical role than it is in a business role once you hit the natural plateau level.

Your other point about VC/GE partners being predominantly engineers is also off IMO. A natural progression for an engineer would be a technical co-founder or early employee at a startup and very rarely do people in that capacity become partners in investment firms (given the average personality traits of an engineer).

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Dec 14, 2018

Fair enough but I think the talent pool needs to be adjusted and I think this is a huge factor. Engineering has a much larger mix of mediocre folks to start out. Apples to apples would mean taking the same kid, a smart kid who could do either IB or engineering, and having him decide which is a more lucrative path. The small % of engineers who make it to the top would be a very different % for such a kid.

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Dec 24, 2018

I honestly think taking the good of either mindset and applying it to the other field reaps benefits.

Finance = business, strategic, outcome/sales oriented (on the good side) and stodgy, less innovative, risk averse, slow to change (on the bad)

Tech = innovative, fast moving, fear-no-evil, but also aloof (which counters a lot of the finance pros)

Combine the best of both and work in either field and I think it's a gold mine. Personally I'm on the finance side simply because I love the strategic and results focused nature, but you better believe I'm writing my own software in the evenings to do things my colleagues who have been in the game for 5-10 years couldn't imagine was possible. FO in an IB.

Offshore liffe

Dec 14, 2018

Finance has the most straightforward path to being paid a lot because perceived value is easier to attribute to individuals than other lines of work. Regardless of what field you're in, the more people directly credit you for value-add work being done, the more upside you have, especially if that value-add is scaled (i.e. $B funds being managed, multi-million $ deals, etc.)

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Dec 14, 2018

Professional athletes, actors and actresses, influencers, successful sales people, entrepreneurs, and more can make more than financiers.

Dec 14, 2018

I can't believe it took this long to so athlete and rapper, I thought that was a given response to this stupid thread

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

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Dec 14, 2018

I think people are thinking a few moves ahead and trying to avoid the message that finance is the next best thing after athlete and rapper.

Truth is, I'm not sure finance compares well to any field at all if you adjust for the talent pool. Any field could appear lucrative if it was limited to smart, hard-working people who care a lot about money. It's just screwing with the denominator, it doesn't mean a talented person would make more money going that route.

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Dec 14, 2018

One thing we need to be careful about is the entry-level salary trick that a lot of professional services pulls (law, IB, consulting come to mind). Entry level salaries are high but the progression isn't as good on average. Many people enter these fields to make partner/MD and the vast majority don't make it, and end up years later realizing that their 20's were as lucrative as their 30's. I had a labor professor who called these "rookie industries" . . pay the rookies more than their value-add because you're seeding your future rainmakers and over time you strip away the ones who won't make it rain.

Progression may be better in some other industries where you're paid directly for the value you provide today, which means starting low but getting consistently paid more over time because you're actually becoming more skilled and valuable.

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Dec 14, 2018

If you consider the hourly comp rate, most industries do not overpay their junior staff. Making 120k right out of college is indeed a lot. But working 80+ hour weeks yields an hourly rate of less than $30/hour. Plumbers, mechanics, and mailmen make more than that. The pay is still tied to experience and value-added as it becomes more respectable, on an hourly basis, as you near your early to mid 30s (assuming regular promotions of course).

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Dec 14, 2018

Mailmen are not making $30 an hour lmao thats 87k a year

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Dec 26, 2018

Isnt 30/hr like 60K? Its very believable that mailmen could earn that much.

Dec 14, 2018

Plastic surgeons, orthodontists make a killing in recent years.

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Dec 14, 2018

Pro sports...

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Dec 14, 2018

Criminals! Hackers, narcotics traffickers, etc...working 10 hours per week for high $7 figs...

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Dec 14, 2018

Actually drug dealing is almost as overrated as finance when it comes to pay:

https://www.ted.com/talks/steven_levitt_analyzes_c...

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Dec 16, 2018

Another prestige thread smh

Dec 17, 2018

Tech does not pay the same as finance. I am in the corporate strategy department of a multinational tech company, worked my ass off jumping up the ladder from entry positions in mechanical engineering in a record time, and there is no money. So keep moving, nothing to see here.

Tech has safety and that is it. You will feel realized if your dream is to become the expert on this or that , you will be overworked to a certain humain level, not beyond Charles Dickens standards, and you will be able to survive to failures on the expense of not benefiting from the individual contributions as much. Very few make above 200k as engineers (including there management levels) and they will be continuously on the target, since hiring newbies is less than half of that and outsourcing cuts the costs even more. Just as an example, outsourcing to Italy or Spain will provide you the same or sometimes better quality for a salary of 30k/year, doesn't need to be outsourced to ultracheap regions.

Engineering is perceived as a cost, is a blackbox to obtain a product that generates cash, and therefore it was, it is and it will be always crushed down to be as cheap as possible.

Dec 14, 2018

Sounds like you don't work at a decent enough tech company if even managers make less than 200k.

Dec 14, 2018

Your work (strategy) should be the least outsource-able thing there is.

Dec 17, 2018

Petroleum Engineers start out at 100-120k with 5-10% raises per year and 10-20% bonus. Usually a promotion every 4-5 years.

Dec 23, 2018

Yeah fair... but as a petroleum engineer for 10 years it gets boring and the 5-10% raises don't get you to higher earnings fast enough (in my opinion). Great job security, low hours, etc.

I swapped the slow and steady upstream world for finance and couldn't be happier.

Dec 17, 2018

What did you switch to? A&D IB? or MBA to Finance?

Dec 23, 2018

MBA to Finance

Dec 18, 2018

Tech entrepreneurs seem to be really high up, but only the 1% in their industry ever really make it. But IB is really a good space to push up your earnings package. I am all for this - money is linked unfortunately to all the good things in life. This is my opinion and I am sticking to it.

Corp. Fin. Analyst currently working two finance jobs (and a teaching gig and trying to save my music production solo career). I love avocado's. And yes Cape Town is the most beautiful place in the world. Don't believe me, come thru and find out.

Dec 22, 2018
sheperd99:

If you work in IB, you start out making 6 figures and then once you're in your mid-30s you could be making millions as an MD or go the PE route and potentially earn more.

What percentage of people in IB will make it all the way to MD?

Dec 22, 2018

The obvious answer is to do something you love and the rest will follow. Having said that, certain fields allow you to capture your worth better than others. Advisory will usually trump a corporate all else equal, and Investments will usually trump advisory. The entry level Tech engineers are benefiting from Demand / Supply, but they certainly dont ramp as much as Finance guys, unless they take on the added risk of joining something early stage.

Medicine and Law are interesting in that they are quasi entrepreneurship. Medicine has a very wide dispersion and cracking into a top specialty is very hard. My understanding is things in the US are getting worse and the ceiling for what you can make is coming down. In other countries Doctors make solid salaries but nowhere near mid six figures like they do here. Not sure why americans think Helathcare belongs on a demand/supply curve... I digress.

Law is exceptionally broad, but its not that uncommon for M&A lawyers to switch over to banking. Its a brutal life with salaries typically below that of bankers. Much harder to make partner as well.

Ultimately, Finance is the best paying field for top students. And as a result there is extreme competition to get seats, which results in all kinds of cultural issues in the field. It is also far riskier than others since its specialized and offers little prospect of opening your own franchise.

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Dec 14, 2018
Dec 27, 2018
Dec 25, 2018
Dec 26, 2018

"We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered."

Dec 27, 2018
Jan 24, 2019
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