Hey guys,

First time poster. Been working only 4 months now for an accounting firm. Chose to do accounting since it was the best program offered in the business school, but have always been more interested in finance. I've been discussing salaries with the people I work with and they seem much lower than initially thought (a lot lower than people on here report, too). I've been talking with a few friends trying to break into i-banking and was wondering the truth about the salaries they throw around, and the work life discussed. So could you all clarify a few rumors with specifics.

1) 100k right out of school.
To me that just seems crazy, nobody out of undergrad is that qualified, so it's hard to believe people would be so well compensated with no experience. Bankers are just like accountants, soldiers. Seems management would cut salaries and still find plenty of smart kids to put in the hours.

2) 100+ hour work weeks.
I have worked one 100 hour week since starting. I could do it again, but not week in week out. In all reality, what is the typical hours? 14 hours a day (so say 8am-10pm), 7 days a week is only 98 hours. If you are working that every week, you would have never have time for basic things like doctor appointments, depositing checks at a bank, getting dry cleaning, etc. Is this a dramatization? Are we talking more like 70-80 with the occasional crappy week?

Since I am asking for salaries I know people will swing their dick around, but in all honesty I make $51k, $5k sign on, with the top rating I would receive a 7-10% bonus, with a utilization bonus of around 3% (but the utilization bonus is nearly impossible to hit, especially with the eating hours that occurs to keep your sr. manager happy). This is in the south, so cost of living definitely not NY or Chicago.


Comments (9)


1) Standard - with bonus, at most BB. You get your share of the pie, and its comp for the higher stress and longer hours. The issue with cutting salaries is that the cost of a fuckup on a live deal is high enough that senior bankers will pay if they can (this becomes an issue when other parts of a BB - FICC for instance - slow down).

2) 85+ with every 2nd week getting close to 100 is expected. You have to realize NOBODY goes home at 10pm on a regular basis. 9am-1am is more "normal", with people coming in at like 11am or so on weekends.

You can double you salary, but that is not why you do it. You do it because you are fascinated by your product/industry, for the prestige and the exit opp to your dream PE job. Not worth it if for other stuff.

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Best Response

Here are your answers...

1) Your salary isn't going to be 100k as a first year analyst. Investment banking pay structure is similar to your accounting industry structure, you typically receive a sign-on bonus, a base salary and then a discretionary bonus at the end of a full year. For investment banking, typical sign-on bonus will be around 10k, sometimes more, sometimes less...for more regional places, it will probably be lower...if you were a summer intern with the firm and were given a full time offer, sometimes they will throw in an extra $5k if you sign by a certain date.

Your base salary will also vary depending on location, but more so on the level of bank you are at. $70k base is pretty standard for BB firms and their equivalents, regardless of what city you are in...so a first year at Wells Fargo in Charlotte will likely have the same base as an analyst at Goldman Sachs in NYC...seems weird, but it just happens to work out that way. Where you typically see the pay differences is boutiques and MM firms. Some will pay 'street' and start their analysts at the same $70k as BBs do, some will offer a bit less (say $55k-$65k) and others will offer more ($75k-$80k), though 'higher' is going to be rather rare. Often times with the firms that start you off lower are located in what would be consider more 'regional' cities, so not NYC, Chicago, etc...which is why your pay is somewhat adjusted for cost of living and what probably might be fewer hours, potentially. Bonuses will vary greatly depending on where you are and how hard you work. Between your sign-on, base and bonus you should be able to break $100k, even in a regional market...or get really close. That leads us to...

2) 100 work weeks are not the norm, but you can expect to be close to it if you are a first year and you work someplace that stays busy. Some things that factor into the hours are face time, your relative inefficiency and large workload, among other things. Some places are less particular about face time, so if you don't have anything going on, you are expected to not be in the office...this is rather rare and generally only found outside of NYC at the more 'regional' IBs. Additionally, your relative inefficiency will play a part in working long hours. As you learn more and develop 'tricks of the trade' you will accomplish more in shorter amounts of time, thus you will hypothetically put in fewer hours. Workload is probably the biggest and this consists of the actual amount of work you are assigned and the time at which it is assigned to you. You are expected to be at the office during normal hours, in addition you will, or can, get assigned things towards the end of the work day that need to be ready in the morning...this will create extremely long days even if you aren't swamped 100% of the time...thus you do get some inflated numbers when it comes to 'hours worked in a week'...often it should be 'hours at the office in a week'. Anyways, you could have times that you work steady 100+ hour weeks. I've known a few people that have done it because they were short analysts and their group was super busy. They were leaving the office around 3 or 4 am and then coming back in around 9 or 10. My buddy once told me it was an early night if you could get home in time to catch the last few minutes of Late Night with Conan O'Brien...which came on at 1am. His experience wasn't normal by any stretch of the imagination, but you could very well find yourself going through a stretch that is very similar. As you pointed out, it's probably going to be more like the 80 weeks with crappy weeks thrown in, but could very well be more through your first year.


"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant, it's just that they know so much that isn't so."
- Ronald Reagan


Just for clarification, no one really "works" 100 hours a week. There are bankers that may be "engaged" or "at the office" 100 hours a week, but a lot of that time is spent sitting around waiting for work to flow their way. You would go brain dead and your body would begin to shut down at some point if you were really working at an all out rate for 100 hours a week as some people like to lead others to believe.

50-60 hours of intense work at a good buy side shop > 100 hours of glorified admin work.


Just a random question on the hour topic: Is it ok to grab some coffee, go somewhere to eat or head to a bar (i'm not talking about getting drunk) while you're waiting for work or do you really have to stay in your shitty cubicle all the time? I mean, if it is only 5 mins or so away, it shouldn't be a problem?!

Sorry for this starry-eyed question..


PlusMinus, I'm not sure I would head to a bar but it's perfectly fine to grab coffee and get a bite to eat if you're waiting on work. Just make sure you have your phone on you and stay close in case you get called back in. You're not chained to your desk with an armed guard pointing a gun at you, you're just expected to be available all the time.


I'm guessing it wouldn't be okay to catch a quick nap while you're waiting for work?
Not while you're in the office, but when you're grabbing a bite...


100K out of school is not that high in finance. I will be starting at 80K in ER and should only work 50 hours a week in a 'regional' area. You get what you pay for and if a firm decided undergrads were 'not worth the money' those top undergrads would just go elsewhere. Supply and demand in a free market dictates that no one is overpaid regardless of their level of perceived experience.


sign on = 10k
salary = 70k

bonus = 20k+

total = 100k+

Top tier first-year analysts got 60-70k last year from what I hear. In that case, total = 140-150k.

divide by 50 weeks and 90 hrs = about $30/hour... not bad. But this works out to getting $60k for a 9-5 job, so it's not exactly extravagant given the hours worked.

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