Highest paying industries for corporate finance?

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Rank: Monkey | banana points 42

What are the highest paying industries for corporate finance? Ie as in tech, defense, CPG, and media

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Comments (37)

Nov 11, 2017

Pretty sure Tech is the highest.

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Nov 13, 2017

Agreed.

Nov 13, 2017

How about aerospace and defense?

Nov 13, 2017

Tech will be the highest....defense will be relatively low.

Nov 13, 2017

Can confirm- defense is generally thought of as the lowest. But its not like it is a huge swing, and generally tech jobs are in high COL areas while defense jobs are in lower COL areas. I'd say that in the earlier roles, defense pays about 5k lower than tech once you adjust for COL. Nothing to lose sleep over, but if you have offers from both and all things are equal, might as well take tech.

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Nov 16, 2017

In A&D pay progression looks something like the following for base salary:

Analyst (1-2 years WE): 55k-65k largely determined by COL of your zone

Senior Analyst (3+ years WE): 75k-100k

Manager (5+ years WE): 110k-150k

Director (10+ years WE): 150k+

Bonuses and stock options/RSUs of any consequence don't exist until the Director level. The demographics across the industry are completely inverted and borderline geriatric. There will most likely be a massive exodus due to retirement in the next 5 years.

Additionally, A&D outside of the subject matter experts on the technical side doesn't typically attract high-flyers. This creates a big void and a stark contrasting effect that can be leveraged to your advantage if you're ambitious and capable. We have a handful of Finance Directors in their early-mid thirties in our Sector. Granted, their not pulling in 400k a year, but all of them are clearing well over 150k, don't work beyond 50 hour weeks, and all have part-time MBAs from regional schools.

The top-rungs in A&D are not not as lucrative as Tech, but are certainly still cushy. I'd wager that the corporate climb is a bit easier as well since the gene pool of peers is generally weaker.

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Nov 16, 2017

You got it- I wonder if we work at the same company. There will absolutely be a mass exodus of retirees in the next decade or so, across all functions (finance, engineers, etc).

Spot on with the salary progressions too, and the note that there are no expected bonuses or stock. One note though- the salary ranges stated are very much the spread between new people in that role, and people who have been there for 20 years. The only Sr. analysts making $100k have been in that role for a long, long time. Same with the managers.. Don't think you can just join an A&D company and negotiate hardcore and get 6figs for being a Sr. Analyst. Doesn't happen.

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Nov 16, 2017
dan_yo23:

One note though- the salary ranges stated are very much the spread between new people in that role, and people who have been there for 20 years.

Good distinction. The "Up or Out" type forcing function is essentially non-existent in the industry, at least from my vantage point. That's the reason I couldn't put a top bound on any of the work experiences in the pay progression. For the senior analyst tranche the WE could legitimately be 3 years - entire career. I think this is partly a residual effect and remnant from the good ol' pension days, it will be interesting to see if the wave of retirements washes the lifer aspect away with it.

Nov 13, 2017

Tech & Oil

Nov 13, 2017

Perhaps based on absolute numbers but those companies are primarily based out of very high COL areas

Nov 13, 2017

not Oil & Gas....

Nov 14, 2017

Purely anecdotal but my jump from a CPG/Pharm conglomerate to Tech(Facebook/Google) took me from being in the $70k range to ~$114k-$147k in compensation, assuming that the value of my RSUs are the same at vesting as they were when initially granted. The stock value has gone up since I've been here so the range has actually moved up but you get the idea. Even with my rent going up 30%, I end up coming out way ahead. Once you account for not paying for food or transportation during the week the equation gets even better.

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Nov 15, 2017

Is most of the difference between $70k and $114k the RSUs? Or did you get a material increase in your cash component? Also, forgive me, but I am not that familiar with CF levels and progression. Would this be for pre-MBA analyst equivalent?

Nov 15, 2017

Looking at just cash comp I went from ~$76k best case scenario at my old company to $102k worst case scenario here. Once you layer in bonus multipliers (there is one for individual performance and one for company performance) and RSUs obviously total comp differential increases.

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Nov 15, 2017

I think second to Tech would be FIG, especially BB banks.

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Nov 15, 2017

I do agree that tech is probably highest paying, but it's also often in high COL areas and extremely competitive and demanding. I would not go into tech simply because you think it might be the highest paying. You want to find an area that you enjoy and have room to grow, then the comp will come.

I was at a healthcare/pharma company (which is thought of as a high paying industry), but promotions were slow and pay was probably slightly below average. They were a relatively "sexy" name and had no issue getting good people. I jumped to another lesser known, less sexy F500 company in the industrials space. This company isn't nearly as bloated and just needs a few really good people. My total comp has more than doubled from 3 years ago when I made the move.

Also, it's typically overlooked, but perks are important too. Having my family gym membership, drinks and snacks in the office, lunch about once a week, dinners if I stay late, cell phone, etc... all paid for plus a good health plan probably saves me $5k+ after-tax per year.

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

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Nov 16, 2017

How do you enjoy working at an industrials space vs pharma?

Nov 16, 2017

Moving from pharma to industrials was pretty concerning to me and I thought I'd hate it, but I made them jump for both personal and professional reasons. I've come to find that I like it more. I think I like it more due to the organization, not because of industries. However, I have more responsibility, more perks, more comp, more opportunities and happen to like the business more. The items we sell aren't necessarily sexy, but I like a tangible product in a marketplace I can better understand.

I am NOT saying industrials>pharma, I'm just saying my current experience is better than my previous experience. This is a fairly relative and subjective opinion.

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

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Nov 16, 2017

I see, how much did you make in your last year at pharma if you don't mind answering?

Best Response
Nov 15, 2017

I can only really speak to compensation in corporate development, not the rest of corporate finance, but technology and services businesses tend to pay more than other sectors. Some of the comments above regarding cost-of-living are important considerations. I've long thought that if you don't make $300K or more in London, NY, SF, HK, or a host of other super high-cost cities, you probably shouldn't live there for more than a few years.

If you can make $150K per annum by your mid-30s in a mid-sized city working 40-50 hours per week in a corporate finance gig, that's not bad living. I think a lot of kids coming out of college imagine they'll be able to grind out a multi-million dollar existence in NY or London by the time they hit 30, but most won't last that long. The burnout rate is quite high, and the question then becomes, "What do I do now?"

Corporate finance or corporate development are easy exits for people with a few years of banking experience, and a lot of times you don't need a high-priced MBA for those jobs if you have the right analyst experience. I only like hiring MBAs because I assume they're done fucking around by the time they're done with b-school, and I just don't have the patience to train new analysts every year or two. But if you have the maturity to recognize the merits of making ~150K pretty consistently after the age of 30 without another serious pay raise until you're probably 40 (career trajectories in corp. finance are more protracted), kudos to you.

In that instance, you're going to want to focus on Tech, Services and Energy (probably in that order). Services businesses (consultancies) are hit or miss on their pay packages. Some pay you more than consultants. Some pay you less than consultants. It just depends on the firm. An average director in corporate development in tech gets paid between $180K-$250K with a 25%-50% cash bonus. Corporate finance always gets paid less than corporate development, so take a 25% reduction on those figures, and you probably have a reasonable range for a Fortune 100 director in corporate finance. The big separation comes at VP level (in corporate terms, the partner level). You make a LOT more money in corporate development at that level than in corporate finance. My old boss used to make at least $2M a year in total comp (at least half of which came in stock), and he didn't do shit.

At any rate, I don't think you should choose a sector based on potential average pay disparities. Surely you like one sector more than others?

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Nov 15, 2017

Meh - A director in tech in corp fin is ~$200k base + 20%-25% Bonus + $75-100K annual RSUs, not much that different that corp dev in tech.

25%-30% haircut a fair assumption outside of tech/high COL areas

Nov 15, 2017

yeah Directors in CF at my company (one of the big tech companies) easily clear 300k. average comp at that level is prob closer to 400k

Nov 18, 2017

FIG

Nov 18, 2017

whatever the industry, I personally think finance at a start-up would be much more fun than a F500 role

Nov 18, 2017

Financing Mark Morrison's 3rd comeback?

Everyone rags on it, but probably PPP/PFI stuff in an emerging market. Find it interesting, and arguably a better argument for doing god's work than Lloyd's crew

Nov 18, 2017
technoviking:

Financing Mark Morrison's 3rd comeback?

Everyone rags on it, but probably PPP/PFI stuff in an emerging market. Find it interesting, and arguably a better argument for doing god's work than Lloyd's crew

If you want to help people, why not do capital markets for MFIs or something along those lines?

Nov 18, 2017

Luxury Retail or Food & Beverage (ie MillerCoors)

Nov 18, 2017

oh thank fucking god someone else realizes its mark morrison not fucking easy e

Nov 18, 2017

^ Whoever thought that was Eazy E = smh.

And @technoviking, is there a field in corporate finance in which I can help people + make a (financially) stable living?

Nov 18, 2017

^ My question still stands.

Nov 18, 2017
csulcy:

As the title suggests, I am just curious which sectors pay their corporate finance staff the best. Im guessing the technology and banking sectors?

Thanks!

Csulcy

From what I've heard, Healthcare, tech, and O&G are the places to be for corp fin. You just want to be in highly profitable industries so hopefully that wealth trickles down.

Nov 18, 2017

The way I understand it tech makes the most and O&G (at the lowest levels) pay really isn't anything out of the ordinary for some of the companies.

Nov 18, 2017

How about banking compared to the others? Really surprised no one has mentioned banking!

Nov 18, 2017
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Nov 18, 2017