I Don't Want to be Underpaid

dan_yo23's picture
dan_yo23 - Certified Professional
Rank: King Kong | banana points 1,948

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.

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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 28, 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?

Mar 13, 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 28, 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 14, 2018

Although I think it would be relatively straightforward to figure out that if I'm speaking about working for Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Facebook, etc. it implies a high COL location, I'll bite...

My personal experience is as follows:
FLDP Rotation 1: $62k in CA (Relatively high COL area)
FLDP Rotation 2: $67k in NJ (I'll just call it medium COL)
Post FLDP: $82k CA (Same relatively high COL) this would have been my situation had I stayed with the company
Current Job: $140k total comp in the Bay Area (SF/SJC/South Bay)

Now I'm going to use NerdWallet's cost of living calculator for comparisons since it's the first that popped up when I googled. According to them, in order to have the same standard of living, I would have needed to make $119,565 in my landing location.

Hours:
First rotation: ~55 hours/week
Second rotation: ~35-40 hours/week
Post graduation: N/A
Current: ~45 hours/week.

If you are content living in a "tier 2/ tier 3" city and working in the industries generally located there then, by all means, stay there. I personally am miserable if I'm not close to a large metropolitan center and have access to beaches. I was able to find a situation that afforded me the opportunity to live somewhere I liked AND come out ahead financially. I would hope that anyone reading these posts wouldn't just take online numbers at face value and instead would determine if the move to a high COL location is beneficial to them.

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Mar 15, 2018

nice. wasn't trying to come off as a dick, just provide a little context so some people don't immediately think they're getting paid shit when in reality it actually might not be bad pay.

So the $140k is like 3-4 years post-undergrad? That's legit. Curious as to what your upward potential is? Would it be easy to make $250k without hitting a director level position where you're at?

Mar 14, 2018

Got it, that makes sense.

Yeah, $140k is 3-ish years post-undergrad, I hit 3 years of work experience in February of this year. It's definitely possible and in all likelihood, it's far more. I'm looking only at salary and bonus because of RSUs being harder estimate but if I apply the raise % for promotions to my salary and ignore any other yearly raises I'm getting to ~$171k for the first "Manager" level and ~$263k for the last "Manager" level.

For these numbers, I can only speak for my company since I don't have any insight as to how compensation progresses at other large tech companies but I know that my current comp is similar to other offers I was able to secure while interviewing.

I would say that these positions are very selective relative to other CF opportunities and correspondingly pay more. It's not the norm for CF I'm simply giving some information as to what kind of comp you could expect here.

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Mar 18, 2018

Hi CF Lateral,
Amazing, making 140K anywhere after 3 years is great. Any tips on how I can follow your path? What should you be able to do after 3 years experience in CF?

Thanks for the help.

Mar 14, 2018

Hey sorry I haven't been on for a couple weeks.
Truthfully, it's a combination of luck, preparation, and just making sure that you get the right amount of exposure. My current employer took a chance on hiring me even though I had no relevant industry experience. The area I support is highly technical and a lot of it is speculative technology so to be effective you need to be able to understand the engineering and product strategy as well as how it fits into the existing market.

That being said, my advice to you would be to crush whatever job you currently have and take on as many projects as you can handle. I absolutely HATED my first 2 jobs but I always went above and beyond (picked up the work of people who quit, improved processes, built new tools & reporting dashboards, etc.). Management liked this and that opened the door for me to work on some pretty cool projects (restructurings, evaluating acquisitions).

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Mar 21, 2018

Great insight @CFLateral I like your thought process. I agree with you, working in a cool place definitely will boost your morale. I had a question about your comp, when you say $140k all-in what's the base salary like? And do you have any vesting restrictions on your bonus or stock comp? I was just promoted a few weeks ago and half of my total comp is in RSUs and options. There are vesting requirements, which are not an issue since I want to stay where I'm at but I wanted to hear from fellow CF professionals.

Mar 14, 2018

Hi @Macron", thanks. On that $140k the breakout is ~97k salary, ~$10k bonus, $33k RSUs vesting. Not quite the same split as you, since most of my comp is cash. It should be noted that I've benefited from the stock price rising and from playing several FANG offers off of each other until the RSUs got to where I wanted them. The initial RSU package would have given me <$10k/year.

Editing to address the vesting question. There are no vesting restrictions on bonus but there were on RSUs. I initially had a 1 year cliff on my RSUs and then they vest several time throughout the year. (Don't want to say exactly how many times to keep some semblance of anonymity since different companies have different vesting schedules.)

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Mar 21, 2018

Thanks for the details I appreciate it

Mar 14, 2018

No problem at all. I know I didn't find any information while I was looking so if this is helpful to even 1 person it's worth it.

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Apr 3, 2018

97 is guaranteed then and the rest is contingent upon staying a whole year

Mar 14, 2018

By that logic wouldn't 97 be contingent on staying a whole year? If I don't work the full year I don't collect the full salary.

Apr 3, 2018

my bonus and RSU's are contingent upon staying 1-yr periods and there is no such thing as prorating, whereas salary is paid every 2 weeks

Mar 14, 2018

My RSUs and cash bonus are both paid out several times during the year.

Apr 3, 2018

pretty sweet deal since it isn't a great retention tool for the employer

Mar 14, 2018

We don't really have retention issues fortunately

Apr 3, 2018

140K fully loaded is on the high end. I believe only a few companies would offer that to someone with 3 yrs exp - Netflix, Google, Uber.

Mar 21, 2018

If he's including a all his unvested RSUs and options it's possible but definitely the high end. My current firm doubled my salary in RSUs and options ( 5 year gradual vesting) and they sometimes do that to lock in employees. I was curious what the vesting was for @CFLateral

Apr 3, 2018

I have a lot of unvested RSUs, but can only count them at vesting. Otherwise I get nothing.

Mar 14, 2018

I'm not including any unvested RSUs, they're not mine. I'm only counting RSUs that would vest during this current year (Initial grant + refreshers) @ current stock price.

Mar 14, 2018

Agreed that it might be on the high end. I know that my salary is near the top end of my band and I negotiated the RSUs pretty hard. Correct, as I've noted I work at a top Tech Firm.

Mar 28, 2018

You also have to note that he is in San Fran, which is extremely high COL. If you take $140k and compare that to COL in Dallas, he'd only need to be paid in the 70s to maintain the same standard of living. Obviously there are ways to game COL and pocket the cash (commute from a cheaper area, have roomates, etc) but $140k with 3yrs exp is pretty fair if you are living in San Fran.

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.

Mar 14, 2018

Hey,

I can't speak for all FAANGs but I do know that some are experimenting with rotational type programs. Some are targeting university grads and some are targeting those with a few years of experience. I can honestly say that from my experience there isn't 1 typical path, it's very team dependent. My team has a ton of ex consultants and bankers due to the nature of our work, the revenue team also has a ton of consultants and bankers as well as people with statistical modeling backgrounds, some of the corporate teams are more Big 4 and CF heavy.

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Apr 2, 2018

From my network, I know of a few companies that actually do real FLDPs, Google has recently moved into this space. I think more and more companies see the benefit of having a strong financial team since a lot of them operate using their own in-house systems and the conversion to outsource is becoming more tricky. This is the case with a lot of semiconductor companies and software folk as well.

Apr 3, 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

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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 15, 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 28, 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 17, 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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