Raise: We don't say yes, we don't say no

Kazar's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 20

Hello everyone,

I could use some advice on my current situation. My situation in bullets:

  • Joined equity research two years ago in Germany as a newcomer/analyst level
  • Low salary in comparison to peers (wont tell to stop you from laughing)
  • Took over a full coverage of 9 stocks as lead analyst after 9 months
  • First 7% raise in December 2015
  • Annual performance review in March this year and received very good feedback (ranked in top 30% among all of our analysts by scoring)
  • Asked for a raise of 25% due to the low level I joined and in comparison to market salary and promotion to associate. Initially not refused, wanted to get back to me as of mid-2016
  • Asked my boss again first week of June. Response "we will get back to you soon". He also said two weeks later something like "do not even think about leaving us after Ive built you up"
  • Received latest ranking already last week and was again ranked in the top group by scoring
  • Performance review meeting for 1H16 next week and I expect them to turn it down again.
  • Meanwhile receiving offers from headhunters for PE/Industry and also one position as a Junior IR for a company I cover which I could consider...

So any advice on how you would handle the situation? I do not feel appreciated at all with this kind of salary and work my a** off getting close to investors/companies.

Two approaches?

The aggressive one:
- Telling them that I deserve a higher salary due to over performance
- Inform them that I have options
- Giving them my opinion about how unhappy I am about getting no exact plan/goals for getting to what I want

The passive one:
- Go into the meeting waiting for them to get back to my favorite topic $
- Enjoy hearing about what I did good and what I have to improve
- Wait for a miracle

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance

Region: 

Comments (29)

Jul 21, 2016

If switching is an option, I would start thinking about it seriously..

    • 1
Jul 21, 2016

what the previous one said, if you have an option to switch over to another employer then obviously pursue the aggressive path

tell your boss you like your work (assuming you do? ) but feel like you don't get compensated for the amount you put work into it. Tell him/her you have been approached by and they have offered better pay but you want to continue at this firm because of blah blah atmosphere, great possibilities blah blah etc.

if they won't give the raise then ciao

Jul 21, 2016

I say hear them out first. If they act as you expect then I would start at least looking at other options to see if anything interests you. Don't switch for the sake of sticking it to them, but if you find something that you genuinely believe is a better move then go for it. At your age the three most important things are 1) What your day to day responsibilities are, 2) What your career projection is and 3) Who you work for. The money will come, the respect will come, just focus on those three things as your priority

    • 1
Jul 21, 2016

I don't think the two options you laid out are your only two. Of course wait until your performance review and then simply be frank with them. If they don't offer a raise or they don't offer one high enough, tell them. It doesn't have to be contentious or aggressive or anything. Matter of factly tell them it's not good enough.

If your boss says "do not even think about leaving us after I've built you up" thank him for all he's done but point out that you have also had quite a hand in building yourself up and now that you are "built up" you expect to be paid what you are worth and what is typical in the market. I wouldn't throw other options in his face - he probably already knows that - but simply state you do not feel properly valued at your current income level and that you are unhappy as a result.

If none of that works, leave. Again, none of this has to be an argument or get emotional or anything. It simply is.

Jul 21, 2016

Thank you all for the quick responses. I will probably let them start off first, thanks for the advice. Will keep you updated as I do not expect very much from the review. Last time they bought time with "you know the current market situation", "banking isnt in a healthy state" etc.Funny thing is that they hired some senior staff, who are absolutely under-performing and get bad reviews from investors (brokerage review etc) but earn like twice as much as I am. Talked to a trustful senior colleague once and he was literally shocked about what I get paid....

Jul 21, 2016
Kazar:

Talked to a trustful senior colleague once and he was literally shocked about what I get paid....

I've definitely been there before. One of the worst feelings is when they stare down into their beer because they're thinking "holy shit we are fucking over this kid" but don't want to say it because, while not at the top, they're a senior in the company and need to act as such.

    • 1
Best Response
Jul 21, 2016

If you're getting interest from recruiters, interview and get an offer. Then tell your boss that you have an offer and they need to give you a raise of x dollars to keep you. I have a friend who said he was leaving to travel the world, and his boss jumped through hoops to keep him on board. This approach works. And plus, if they don't give you a raise, you can just take the job offer at the other firm.

    • 3
Jul 26, 2016

Agree - don't tell them you're talking to people until you have another offer. Different managers react differently to that news.

Why was your salary lower? Simply didn't negotiate or were some of the more experienced? Still fine that you're asking but the context would be helpful.

When you make these decisions during your career think through a few things -

  1. Have I been here long enough? I've seen people job hop 4-5 times within 3 years. You're two years in so fine there but important to bring up. It can burn you eventually.
  2. I expect that comp figures I hear in offers are inflated on the bonus front. I would suggest you do the same. Better not to be surprised on the downside.
  3. Don't assume a work environment will be better at a new firm . It can be hard to reestablish working relationships, learn how things are done, understand nuances for different senior people etc. From a promotion standpoint a lateral can actually be a career staller in this case, as you have to relearn the people portion of a new job, but obviously worth if it you're stonewalled where you are.
    • 1
Jul 26, 2016

^What this guy said but I want to highlight it. Don't go touting that you have other employment options until you actually have one in hand. You don't want to get caught standing naked in the wind.

Oct 25, 2016

Legit. Have heard some brutal stories of bosses calling the bluff.

Jul 26, 2016

Shock us by telling us how much you are getting paid. Our opinions might change and tell you to join another company and never look back at your current firm who's taken advantage of you all this time.

Jul 26, 2016

Move on.

schmooze or lose

Jul 26, 2016

If you really are as below market as you say you are, go out and get an at-the-market offer. Next time you are turned down for a raise, inform them that a headhunter approached you regarding another opportunity. Your preference is to stay because you like the team and think you can grow faster here, but you can't afford to do so at a below-market rate.

WARNING: If you do this, be fully prepared to walk because there is no guarantee they will make a counter-offer. They may respond with "Thanks for your service; we're happy you found a better fit and wish you the best of luck in your next role", in which case your current job is gone, so make sure the offer is one you would actually take.

Things NOT to do:
- Express discontent with the situation
- Tell them you have other options before you actually do
- Say you are unhappy with your role/company/anything else

It may be the case that your boss knows you're underpaid and this is the push he needs to get your raise approved. It could also be that the firm is made up of asshats who want to pay as little as possible and don't care about grooming junior talent. In either case, sitting around passively is unlikely to get you the raise you want, and being aggressive without an exit strategy could backfire.

Most importantly, in the event that you do leave, you don't want your boss's last impression of you to be whining about your salary.

    • 2
Jul 27, 2016

So now I had the talk before my official review:

Boss took me outside and told me about how he approached our MD said "You may have seen it in your latest salary but there was no raise yet. I tried now several times to get you the raise but our MD turned it down again due to market conditions and general bank performance. I'm really sorry but I will continue to get you the raise you deserve."

In two days my official review will take place. I am so disappointed again and now I will definitely go for other offers. I can't stand this McDonalds wage anymore.

Edit: Current salary EUR 50.000 p.a. in Germany/Frankfurt. Any opinions?

Edit2: Most successful senior colleague advice after I told him:
- tell them you adjust working hours to low salary and communicate it in the review ("If you do not adjust your working hours you are making a bitch out of yourself and show them that they can do what they want. I know that they need you, especially ECM and your boss."
- go for alternatives to increase pressure (Quote "Its fun as a junior to act as you are having a phone call with a headhunter. Used to be so fun when I was a junior. Get another offer. Its normal in this bank to get raises this way.")

Jul 27, 2016

I wouldn't adjust your hours to prove a point or whatnot. That's pretty passive aggressive and will only lead to confrontation. Plus, your work will suffer, which will only further justify your low rate of pay in their minds.

Go get an offer. At this point, you might as well plan on taking that offer as well. Companies who don't reward their high performing employees are simply bound to lose them.

Jul 27, 2016
CRE:

I wouldn't adjust your hours to prove a point or whatnot. That's pretty passive aggressive and will only lead to confrontation. Plus, your work will suffer, which will only further justify your low rate of pay in their minds.

Go get an offer. At this point, you might as well plan on taking that offer as well. Companies who don't reward their high performing employees are simply bound to lose them.

100% agree. I would also not "apply pressure" without an offer for a few reasons:

First, your boss may be telling the truth and might feel up against a wall as it is. By forcing it down his throat when he really feels like he can't do anything, you risk alienating him and ruining those gains. The raise might also be in the pipeline but not guaranteed so he doesn't want to let on yet. You don't want to piss him off if that's the case. Raises and promotions can involve a lot of groups and political pressuring; it might be that he is advocating for you just as strongly as someone else is advocating for someone on their team, but for reasons out of your bosses control, the MD isn't ready to give to "him" (i.e. "you") yet.

Second, if you really start over pressuring they will see you as a flight risk but this could be a career jeopardizer. If things turn bad you can go to your offer. Essentially by pressuring you are posturing, and without something to back that up you're essentially taking a huge risk that your pressuring turns things sour and that the relationship turns.

Third, if you're really at a point where it's more money or bust, you should put yourself in a position to follow up on that. What if your boss scrapes up funds from the MD that makes up half the difference but not as much as you were expecting (definitely be prepared for these scenarios)? Having another offer will let you evaluate this situation differently.

Jul 27, 2016

Get an offer in hand and then just ask your boss what he would do in your position.

Dominos delivery guys in my area make $36,000 a year. EU50,000 seems low enough that I'd consider walking outright. I'm not saying that to be a dick, just for perspective.

Jul 27, 2016

I appreciate your perspective. I will get that offer and lets see what happens.

My other colleague said:
1. "If you use an offer to increase pressure and you get the raise, they got you in the palm of their hand. You turn down a offer from a new company and you rely on your current company's mercy".
2. "That's how they always do it. Top management (not my boss) tells you that you can feel so happy to have such a job and that there is so much talent in the market, but when you are about to leave they open their purse right away. Has never been different."

It's just horrible. I love my job, my colleagues and I am super successful with an incredible recommendation performance / total return including extel rank, but this is just freaking me out. Can't even afford a two room flat in this city....

Jul 27, 2016
Kazar:

I appreciate your perspective. I will get that offer and lets see what happens.

My other colleague said:1. "If you use an offer to increase pressure and you get the raise, they got you in the palm of their hand. You turn down a offer from a new company and you rely on your current company's mercy".2. "That's how they always do it. Top management (not my boss) tells you that you can feel so happy to have such a job and that there is so much talent in the market, but when you are about to leave they open their purse right away. Has never been different."

It's just horrible. I love my job, my colleagues and I am super successful with an incredible recommendation performance / total return including extel rank, but this is just freaking me out. Can't even afford a two room flat in this city....

If you're really interested in staying, there's a way to use the offer. I'm not a fan of the "I was just offered twice my salary to leave" approach for just that reason. Instead you tell your boss that you know they've been working a long time on you raise, sympathize and thank your boss for their efforts on your behalf. Tell him that you understand the funding hasn't there to pay you at market value, you love your job, he/she's been great but you need to make a living wage. Ask if there's been any progress and what there thoughts are. See what their repsonse is.

I wouldn't even mention the offer at this point. See what their response is. If it's really positive, I'd let them know you've been approached by a few firms and one of them made you an offer. Tell them you need to reply by x date and really want to stay, but that your performance level and compensation need to be brought into sync. If they want to keep you, and it's at all possible, they'll make it happen. They might want to keep you but the money really isn't there (this happens, don't take it personally). In that case, I'd leave. If they don't want you, I'd leave. If they want you and scrape together enough of what you're asking for to keep you, then you have an option to stay.

Being now "at the mercy" of the firm - definitely possible. There might be lingering bitterness with your boss or the level above, or colleagues, if this goes through for you. I'd expect you'll be under special scrutiny for the next 3-6 months if you get the raise. Make sure you kill your performance, show up early and late, etc so they feel justified for pulling strings. Don't expect you can cash it in afterwards. Just an aside.

Aug 20, 2016

So i had the review talk and I was turned down once again. Some Quotes from my boss:

"We and also the clients appreaciate your good work and want to support you. You are above expectation and we want you to keep this momentum"

"I pitched the raise multiple times already but my own boss turned it down"

"Your raise is one of our top priorities and we wont stop pushing it."

Me:"I dont want to get another offer to make this raise work since i like my job here, you know?"
Boss:"This may work but may lead to a bad reputation among our bosses. This may work once... But i wouldnt recommend it"

The only criticism in the review was about my conference calls, where they were wishing for more enthusiasm... Laughed my ass off afterwards.

So where are we? No raise, wierd headhunter companies spamming me with various PE jobs and one global players head of executive recruitment got in touch with me ("your performance caught our attention" thanks!)... Will keep you guys updated.

Aug 20, 2016

Your situation doesn't sound ideal, and it sounds like they are taking advantage of you (with the limited information that I have).

They claim "market coniditions", etc for not giving you a raise, are they giving themselves raises? Are they giving other people raises? It is one thing for an entire company (and even group at times) to freeze pay, but if that is not the case, then the comments about "how much they care, etc" don't matter, as if they really cared they would adjust their own pay and make sure they fit it in the budget (think about it, a 25% raise for you is NOTHING compared to raises to more senior people and others around the company, heck 100% raise wouldn't impact most firms).

I would recommend looking around and getting another offer. In situations like you describe above I would personally find another place. If you have to fight for every raise, that probably won't change in the future. And if you get an offer and stay (and force them to match) what makes you think it will be different in a year or two?

It is tough because you have to balance how much you like what you do and like the people you work with, but you can usually (not always, but usually) find another place with similar people/work. My biggest concern would be if they are treating others the same way they are treating you.

Aug 22, 2016

"My biggest concern would be if they are treating others the same way they are treating you."
It seems like they are. Talked to some other juniors and they are also kept on a low level and raises are off the table right now. Seniors are a whole different story, especially high ranked ones.

Aug 20, 2016

the clever play is to schmooze the shit out of your boss for the raise and when you get it, leave immediately. if you leave now you will get 10% on top of your lower end salary but if you get 20-25% then you will get 10% on top of that. might take a few months longer, but worth it long term. just my two cents.

Oct 25, 2016

So just to give you guys a conclusion out of this:

I just received an offer by a company I cover and I took it. So now I'm switching to the corporate side and they more than doubled my salary.

Funny thing: The day after I quit, the boss of my boss ordered me to his office. He asked "what can we do to make you stay" and I said "nothing, it's too late and I already signed the new contract". He wanted to tell me what they want to pay me now but I said "I don't want to hear it". The moment I signed I was done with this bank.

Thanks for the advice guys. Seems like the best way was to leave.

    • 3
Oct 25, 2016

That's fantastic. Congratulations.

    • 1
Nov 6, 2016

So glad to hear this conclusion. Great job seeing this through. Congrats!

Nov 8, 2016
Comment