Is investment banking the single highest paying salaried job out there?
Are there any occupations that pay as well or better?
Secondly, I'm a sophomore at London School of Economics, and I want to follow a career in IB. Is M&A the best choice for a career ?
Does IB have the highest salary after undergraduate?
User @Deo et Patriae, an investment banking analyst, shared that quant funds are the highest paying jobs out of undergrad:
I would say people that get hired at quantitative hedge funds for their technical skills (e.g. researchers, programmers, developers, etc.) get paid much more at the entry-level compared to entry-level investment bankers. Base salary for an entry-level analyst is $85,000.
For an entry-level quant position at a quantitative hedge fund, base salary starts in the six-figures... In investment banking you won't start getting a six-figure base salary until you have been promoted to associate. I've known some exceptional people from my school who were making 7-figures in all-in compensation only three or four years removed from college at quant hedge funds...
User @johnsmithv001 shared that it is the highest paying job for those without a specific skill set:
It's "one" of the highest paying jobs for people without specific skills/incredible abilities. if you're super smart, then don't do banking, do anything listed above. if you're incredibly talented and motivated, then start a company. banking is good for anyone who has good, marketable abilities, but i wouldn't say extraordinary.
User @ArcherVice shared a comparison between tech and banking:
The question isn't that simple, especially when you factor in the cost of living. For example... 170k in NYC is 130k in SF, 115k in San Jose and 90k in a place like Chicago. In tech you can work in DC, Seattle and California making pretty good money. Finance is generally restricted to higher cost of living cities, NYC and London being the two major hubs. Which doesn't take into account the work/life balance and quality of life of those cities.
Another point that you rarely see brought up on these forums is the comparative advantage. In banking, putting in an 80-90hr week is considered common. In tech that would be considered atrocious working conditions. If you are the guy willing to put in 80-90hr weeks that would make you a rock star in an industry where most people don't work more than 60hrs. The argument is often that if you work very hard in finance the compensation structure is much more rewarding, I'd contend that your upward mobility with the same effort might be a lot faster in another industry. This doesn't take into the consideration the ease of entry into either career path.
Obviously the more senior levels in finance earn exceptional salaries and generally have a much better work/life balance than junior bankers. Tech executives and top performers also get compensated exceptionally well. I think these threads miss out on the bigger picture. It isn't just tech, consulting is another lucrative career field.
User @kodelgi compared Investment Banking, Quants, and Engineers:
Quant: Highest paying ($100-$150k?) | Medium Hours (70?) | Extremely hard to get into (at least MBA from Top 5 schools)
Petroleum Engineer: Very High paying ($100-$120k?) | Good Hours (50?) | probably definitely easier to get than Quant
Investment Banker: Pretty well paying ($80-120k?) | Awful Hours (90-100?) | hard to get into, still need a degree
If we convert these to hourly wages, Quants make about $27-$42 an hour, Engineers $38-$46, IBs $18-$25.
Engineers should have least stress unless they're not knowledgeable in their area. Quants probably have more stress because their work is closely tied to the market, which can be stressful. IBs have the most stress because of the tight deadlines.
Work / Life Balance:
Engineers probably have it pretty good, however I have heard that often these jobs are stationed at facilities such oil rigs in the Ocean... Quants have it pretty good because their hours are not too bad, they can afford to live in the city close to work, and their colleagues are usually like-minded and there is little office politics. IBs... have no life.
To conclude, petrol. engineering is probably the best bang for your time (do they really make that much? I haven't confirmed this). Quant is great but super hard to get into. Investment banking... is an overpriced stock lol it's like having two entry-level full time jobs at the same time. Which reminds me of a friend in Europe (eastern Europe); he has a full-time job as an insurance agent, and a night-time job as a security guard in a warehouse, which he very conveniently uses to get a good night's sleep
Read About The Salaries of Different Industries on WSO with Industry Reports
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