I Don't Want to be Underpaid

dan_yo23's picture
Rank: Neanderthal | 2,084

I'm finishing up year 2 of my 3 year FLDP. I'm at a top Aerospace and Defense company, and a "perk" to this program is that I'll automatically be promoted to Sr. Financial Analyst when I'm done.

Here is the problem- A&D is arguably the lowest paying industry. I found a data pull in our financial system that shows exact salaries for different job grades in different cities, and found that SFAs with 5-6 years experience average right at $70k ($2k average deviation) in lower COL metros (think Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix). Higher COL areas (NE, LA, DC) take that average to about $75k. Much lower than I was hoping, especially at 5-6 years experience.

I've been looking to leave A&D after my FLDP for a handful of reasons that include pay. So here is my question- what SFA salary could I realistically command coming off a top FLDP? Would it benefit me to take the promotion to Sr, and then try to leave shortly after that? Any advice is appreciated.

Comments (48)

Mar 13, 2018

The lower pay is justified because of less working hours.

A&D analysts usually work a maximum of 80 hours/2 weeks with a 9/80 schedule getting every other Friday off. If you work over 80 hours, you usually get "mod time" off or am applicable for overtime if you work over 8 hours to what you would have that week (44 + 8 on a work Friday week and 40 +8 on Friday off).

FLDPs started off at ~$60k, got a sign on bonus of $5 - $8k, relocation package, and yearly raises were apparently $5k while in the program in the Boston area for my previous company.

A coworker (non FLDP) who was a level II and got promoted to SFA at 5.5 years was offered $73k in his offer letter. He later got it adjusted to $80k after about 3 months because of a market adjustment.

A level IV (team lead with ~8 yrs exp) made in the ballpark $90 - $100k on my team.

Completing a FLDP is always good to show on the resume and you're already almost done with the program anyway - tough it out in my opinion. Having the SFA title and the pay bump that comes with it will help immensely when jumping ship.

Not sure what kind of bump you could expect when jumping though - maybe some other people could chime in on this.

I left 22 months in to move back to NYC and got an approximate 35% increase after bonus is calculated. I was a non FLDP and didn't consider staying because I wanted to move back and the work was not what I expected.

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Mar 13, 2018

PM me which company that was? My company is on the 9/80 schedule as well, but when you are not directly charging a contract and are in FP&A (my current rotation) then the hours pop above 40 on average- I'd say it's 40 during the "down weeks", but it gets closer to 55 during month-end close and other deadlines.

The FLDP pay here is lower- I was around $60k all in (after signing bonus) in my first year, and the 2nd year pay was actually lower than that since the raises were less than the signing bonus. I should still be at less than $65k by the time I finish the 3yr program (not including relocation reimbursements).

I'm definitely staying til the end of the program- the guarantee of a new job and new experience each year is worth working at a discount for. But once that opportunity goes away, I want my income to line up to the market.

Thanks for the insight!

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Apr 3, 2018

a level IV is doing well at 95K in a low COL city....is that a fair assumption?

Apr 4, 2018

I would say so especially with the work life balance that Defense companies offer.

Mar 13, 2018

Understand the predicament. As an FLDP though, you should have some upside to those numbers. Our first year FLDP's come in with about a 12-15% premium above what is offered to those outside of the program. Progression seems to be about identical, with those matriculating from the program almost guaranteed to land in SFA roles.

Assuming you can preserve the initial 12-15% spread, then you should be looking at something closer to 80k. Maybe this doesn't translate as well in your program though. In a low COL area, with flexible scheduling and lax hours, there's worse ways to start a career.

You can always discretely test the waters in the meantime. You will probably find that most companies are looking for 5-7 years experience for anything with a sr. title slapped on it. You might get some dispensation for the FLDP brand, and diversity of experience, but it's a significant leap. Your fastest, most direct path is probably to graduate from the program, get a Sr title, and then look to lateral. Maybe you'll get lucky beforehand, but if an employer is willing to disregard their hiring requirements or really stretch it's worth contemplating why and whether that bodes well for you long-term.

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Mar 13, 2018

I appreciate the insight! I'm hoping that my salary forecasts are lower than the actual offers, but we'll see. As I said before, I was able to pull actual numbers from our financial system, so unless they pay me more than the people with 5-6 years exp (and pay me closer to what they pay the 15yr SFAs), I'll be around $70k. Which I objectively can't complain about- at 22 I was making more than the average US household income. But compared to what I might be able to command elsewhere, I should be looking to jump ship.

I like your advice about testing the waters- I'll definitely be doing that as I prepare to finish the program. If I don't get any bites then I'll wait a bit and look again with the credibility of a SFA promotion behind my name.

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Mar 14, 2018
dan_yo23:

I appreciate the insight! I'm hoping that my salary forecasts are lower than the actual offers, but we'll see. As I said before, I was able to pull actual numbers from our financial system, so unless they pay me more than the people with 5-6 years exp (and pay me closer to what they pay the 15yr SFAs), I'll be around $70k. Which I objectively can't complain about- at 22 I was making more than the average US household income. But compared to what I might be able to command elsewhere, I should be looking to jump ship.

I like your advice about testing the waters- I'll definitely be doing that as I prepare to finish the program. If I don't get any bites then I'll wait a bit and look again with the credibility of a SFA promotion behind my name.

Yeah, def apply when you get Sr. Fin. Analyst.

"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

Mar 14, 2018

Dan_yo... i was working in same industry for top A&D company and worked alongside FLDP's (also contemplated joining the program).
I Stayed in the industry as Financial Analyst for 2.5 year.... left the company making roughly 62/63K. New job offer for Sr. Financial Analyst (as part of a different industry FLDP program) started at 80K with plus bonus plan 10%.
Now After doing that FLDP for 2 years I have been promoted to a manager.
A&D is great if you are in Business Development/Program Mgmt/ Engineering...they value those disciplines, but do not care much for general finance.
One of the good perks of doing FLDP for top Aero company is that it looks good on resume and can help if you want to go to an MBA. That, plus 9/80 work schedule and decent benefits are the only perks I saw within the industry.
Personally im quite happy with getting out of there. I find the my work more interesting, pay is a lot better.
Feel free to PM me if you have any questions...

Mar 14, 2018

hmm you might consider switching to aerospace and defense consulting or places like Carlyle group in that industry.

"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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Mar 14, 2018

If you're looking to maximize your comp I highly suggest going to a Tech company. Target FAANG firms and play them off of each other. That's what I did leaving my FLDP (Healthcare) and it worked out pretty well =)

Mar 14, 2018

Go into top tech, financial services or Oil&Gas, those industries pay more on average for CorpFin than the more slower moving/less profitable legacy industries.

I've heard SFAs at tech companies can pull in ~$100-130k all-in (salary, bonus and RSU).

Mar 14, 2018

To be honest, if he can get an SFA level role at a FAANG he should expect even more. I'm not an SFA and my all in comp for 2017 was $140k. When I get promoted next cycle my base alone will be ~120k (24% raises for promotions).

Best Response
Mar 15, 2018

you guys really need to state which major city you're based in when putting this shit out there. I make $75k in a tier 3 low COL city, and to have the same standard of living, I'd have to make $136K in SF, per the cost of living calculators. Your $140k In a NYC/SF/LA isn't that much better than his $70K in a low tier2 / tier 3 city. Not hating on it, it's good money don't get me wrong, but you're comparing shit on absolute terms instead of relative terms.

EDIT: also need to add the amount of hours you work. If he's working 40 hours and you're working 55-60, its apples to oranges. I hear some FLDPs can average 60 hours a week quite easy.

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Mar 17, 2018
CFLateral:

To be honest, if he can get an SFA level role at a FAANG he should expect even more. I'm not an SFA and my all in comp for 2017 was $140k. When I get promoted next cycle my base alone will be ~120k (24% raises for promotions).

Hi,

Could you please tell us what if the path to a Senior Financial Analyst at a FAANG?

Both from the inside (do they have a 2 year FLDP which promotes you to a SFA?) - and outside. What is the typical background/experience of someone who comes in as an SFA? Other FLDPs? Big 4 experience?

Thank you for sharing your knowledge here.

Apr 2, 2018

120K is a typical SFA salary base for b-school grads in Silicon Valley within corporate finance....it's not typical for those who are less experienced

Mar 14, 2018

Chiming in with the others- look at other industries that interest you outside of A&D, consumer products, retail, etc. If I had to pick two, it would be Tech and O&G. I have spent just over two years in an O&G FLDP and am ~100k.

Also, consider where in the finance space you see yourself. Does traditional FP&A work interest you, or perhaps something more specialized like controllership, tax, treasury, or corp dev? If you can figure this out and learn deeply about that function you may be able to command a higher salary while staying in corp. fin.

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Mar 15, 2018

Chiming in from a CPG FDLP...

I'll be making 73-74k all-in, year one as just a financial analyst in a "second-tier" city (think ATL, DFW, Charlotte).

Either my company has very good comp, or you're getting screwed. Given that I haven't started my job yet, I'm not sure which!

Mar 17, 2018

What is the path from the FLDP program in your company? SFA after 4 rotations/2 years? What is your guess on how much a SFA makes. Asking because I've been seeing SFA positions open up for CPG near me, and wanted to know comp ranges. Thanks.

Mar 17, 2018
NJDevil:

What is the path from the FLDP program in your company? SFA after 4 rotations/2 years? What is your guess on how much a SFA makes. Asking because I've been seeing SFA positions open up for CPG near me, and wanted to know comp ranges. Thanks.

Each rotation is 12-18 months and most analysts do 3 rotations before exiting to business school or another job. There are some analyst to senior analyst promotes, but most senior analysts (that have some management responsibilities) have an MBA.

Not 100% sure on comp for the senior/post-mba folks, but my impression is somewhere in the 100k range.

PM me if you want more details.

Mar 19, 2018

Yeah I'd say it's a combination of both- You're going to be getting good comp, and I'm in a lower paying industry.

Thanks for the data point- I'm trying to get a good idea of what comp level to expect once I leave my current company. Still trying to figure out what industry to target, but it looks like I should command $80k+ at a 2nd tier city once I'm done with the FLDP.

Mar 23, 2018

I think the downside of FLDP is the competition that comes with it (Similar to starting in Big 4). They recruit top talents so you are one of many options and that leaves you with little room for negotiations. You are asking the right question though. Sometimes, being underpaid is a good thing.

I willingly took a FA role that paid $5-7k less than market 7 years ago. But I made sure to track my progress. Here's my W2 YoY trend from Year 1 through 6 : 0%, 16%, 29%, 31%, 6%, 26%. This year projection is 10-15%. This is excluding my side hustle :)

Here's three reasons why I can negotiate - 1) My company doesn't do FLDP so I don't have any competition for promotions. 2). Leadership likes me so they don't want me to leave. 3) I'm always at the low end of the salary band/range for my role. So, I can just walk into my boss' office and tell her that I'm underpaid compared to my peers. I actually wore a suit and gave a presentation one time on why I'm worth it lol

So my advise is....factor in the COL adjustment (it's all about net income...not gross) and make sure to check out the salary ranges. If you have access to salary data, find out the range max for SFA level at your company. And don't worry about averages. Averages are for average people. You also don't want to jump ship to a role that'll pay you 80k but has a cap at 85k.

A boss used to tell me. Nothing wrong with asking for more money. The worst thing they can do is say no.

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Mar 28, 2018
aphoegyi1989:

I think the downside of FLDP is the competition that comes with it (Similar to starting in Big 4). They recruit top talents so you are one of many options and that leaves you with little room for negotiations. You are asking the right question though. Sometimes, being underpaid is a good thing.

I willingly took a FA role that paid $5-7k less than market 7 years ago. But I made sure to track my progress. Here's my W2 YoY trend from Year 1 through 6 : 0%, 16%, 29%, 31%, 6%, 26%. This year projection is 10-15%. This is excluding my side hustle :)

Here's three reasons why I can negotiate - 1) My company doesn't do FLDP so I don't have any competition for promotions. 2). Leadership likes me so they don't want me to leave. 3) I'm always at the low end of the salary band/range for my role. So, I can just walk into my boss' office and tell her that I'm underpaid compared to my peers. I actually wore a suit and gave a presentation one time on why I'm worth it lol

So my advise is....factor in the COL adjustment (it's all about net income...not gross) and make sure to check out the salary ranges. If you have access to salary data, find out the range max for SFA level at your company. And don't worry about averages. Averages are for average people. You also don't want to jump ship to a role that'll pay you 80k but has a cap at 85k.

A boss used to tell me. Nothing wrong with asking for more money. The worst thing they can do is say no.

As a former Fortune 50 FLDP who slacked off in High School and went to a not-so-great school, I am going to highly disagree with the "top talent" comment here. FLDP/Big 4 recruit middling talent--I can promise you that the 3.8 GPA kid from Princeton is not going to be working at a Big 4 or FLDP.

And I am saying that as someone on the other side of the equation. Sometimes it is important to realize where you stand. Guys like me or you aren't exactly GS TMT > KKR material.

OP, only piece of advice I can give you is to complete is FLDP and make the jump to a higher paying industry as others have mentioned here.

I started off in a F50 FLDP with terrible pay (great company though) and jumped ship to a different industry as an SFA. It made a world of difference in my compensation and lifestyle.

Good luck and keep us posted!

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Apr 2, 2018
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Apr 8, 2018