What compensation goals are you setting for yourself?

Hi All,

     I'm curious about what milestones you all are setting for yourselves regarding base salary compensation and any other benefits (cash bonus, stock options) provided for corporate finance jobs. I've been thinking $150K base salary by age 35 is reasonable and then $200K base salary by age 40. I know stock options would factor in somehow but that might vary by company.

Thank You

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (38)

  • Analyst 1 in AM - Equities
Apr 25, 2021 - 3:07pm

very realistic. I'm thinking 225 base by age 35. But I intend to get an MBA and maybe do corpstrat

Apr 26, 2021 - 2:27am

Broke 100 when I was 25 yr old but dunno if 200 is in the cards any time soon... everybody breaks 100 easily but the true climb is that next 100... definitely not getting to 200 in current co without doing quite a bit of job hopping, especially without pedigree/IB on my CV. Simply not enough rapport and room to grow. 

Apr 26, 2021 - 11:40pm

I hear ya - I got a 34% increase in base pay with my last company change (first post-MBA role).

It just doesn't pay to be with the same employer long-term anymore since there are often caps on the percentage increase in pay you get from an internal promotion. I witnessed this first hand.

  • 1
May 13, 2021 - 2:30pm

This is so true.  I'm not in corp finance but also at a F500 (brand management) and it's just such a slow climb.  I'm on the cusp of promotion, which would be a ~15% increase in total comp, which is actually more than normal (the next role is where you start to get stock).  I've talked to recruiters and if I moved to another company (in very good roles) I'd be looking at ~25% minimum.  If your primary goal is growing comp as fast as possible, you need to move companies every couple of years.  Personally I love my current situation and value other things (culture, people, etc) enough that that doesn't move me, but it still is frustrating.  

  • 2
Apr 26, 2021 - 12:52pm

Whatever market rate is for the role / company I eventually end up in within the market I end up in. 

I can't will myself into a comp band if it doesn't exist

Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
Apr 26, 2021 - 11:45pm

Makes sense. How do you determine what the market rate is? What resources do you use? I typically use Glassdoor but I take everything I see on there with a grain of salt.

One thing I was told is to always aim for at least a 20% increase in pay if you are considering external opportunities. If you combine this with merit increases and bonus percentages at your current employer you can get a good ballpark estimate.

  • 1
Apr 27, 2021 - 5:27am

Best resource is probably speaking with recruiters directly and asking what kinds of numbers they're seeing at the levels you're interested in.

Glassdoor is useful for base salary but beyond that can get pretty dicey. I'm in tech personally so rely on places like Blind or levels.fyi for comp numbers.

Apr 26, 2021 - 1:28pm

Not sure what stage of your career you're in, but from what I've seen in my career making up to $150k (base + bonus + stock) is pretty easy by 35 assuming you're not a creep or bad at your job, which translates to a manager / sr. manager position.  Beyond that it can get dicey as company politics / relationships play a much bigger role in your growth in director+ jobs, and these are the jobs where the corporate world really starts to grow from one position to the next (i.e. pay jump from manager to director is nothing compared to that of director to VP).  This is assuming we're talking about established companies, can't comment on start up space.  

Another thing to consider is COL.  I've interviewed around, and surprisingly comp doesn't vary that much in CF by region, and 150K in bumfuck nowhere is a lot different than 150K in NYC.

Edit: just noticed I didn't answer your main question. I don't plan on staying in CF, so not meaningful what my salary goal is (although, probably won't be 200+)

Apr 26, 2021 - 11:58pm

Finishing up an MBA in two weeks (Currently ~6.5 years out of undergrad). I started my post-MBA role early since I am a part-time student. I'm at the manager level with a path to director in 5 years.

To your first point - I meant $150k in base salary alone. Unless your in a higher-paying industry like pharma or tech $150k base salary is director-level.

That makes sense on the jump from Director to VP, especially if you're going externally. 

Your point on COL is a bit surprising but I can believe it. It definitely makes higher COL areas less feasible. I keep on hoping tech companies allow remote workers for corporate finance jobs.

  • 3
Apr 27, 2021 - 1:38pm

I was targeting MBA LDPs because I like the structure and emphasis on leadership development. I am hoping to supplement my current experience (Internal Audit and FP&A) with other areas of finance (treasury, IR, corp dev). LDPs have great flexibility in this regard

Also, the MBA gave me a better pay bump than I would've gotten otherwise

  • 1
May 14, 2021 - 9:19am


To your first point - I meant $150k in base salary alone. Unless your in a higher-paying industry like pharma or tech $150k base salary is director-level.

I can't speak much beyond my industry (CPG) but $150k base is manager/senior manager level at my company, and we pay as close to market as possible (not above, not below, exactly market).  I just broke $150k base as a senior manager and I'm 3 levels below Director (we have Associate Director and then also a level between Sr Mgr and that).  Director at my company is a bit more senior than others I've seen (it's usually 8-10 years post-MBA) but Director base salary starts close to ~$200k.  

  • 3
Apr 26, 2021 - 9:05pm

Out of college my goals were to make 100k by 30, and have a NW of $1M by 40. I hit 100k at 25ish (if you count 401k match.. 26 if not) and realized its not that hard to do and doesn't buy the amazing lifestyle I assumed it would if you are aggressively saving. My goals now are more about title (with the assumption that the pay is commensurate). Manager by 28, director before 35, VP eventually.

Apr 27, 2021 - 12:08am

I know how you feel - You get there and realize it wasn't as hard to get there as you thought. Personally, I'm hungry for more.

Looking at it from a title perspective makes sense. I reached manager at 28 and will (hopefully) reach senior manager at 30 or 31 followed by director at 35. VP by 40 seems feasible if the timing is right.

  • 1
Most Helpful
May 24, 2021 - 12:49pm

It really depends on COL for me because what the salary "buys" you is so different depending on the city you're in. Also, me now being in my 30s has made me realize that, in addition to being considered a "Boomer" by most on this forum, I don't need as much salary as I thought I would to be happy/content. In my 20s, I was desperate to get into consulting/IB because I thought earning a ton of money would make me happy. That has since changed and I've realized that a job is just a job at the end of the day and that time spent building relationships with people/pursuing hobbies will be what gives me happiness. This does not mean that I don't try to do a good job and move up the ladder, but rather that being good the best at my job now comes in second place to my health and friends/family. I'd also prefer to work at a less prestigious company but be a "big fish" than just be a cog in the machine of a huge firm and be able to name-drop where I work.

So with all that said, here's what my near-term goals are by city (for me, near-term means by age 35):

NYC/SF: would never stay in these areas for too long and would not want to live in these cities past 35. Goal is at least $250K TC, which is still mediocre given how much wealth there is out here. I know people make it on much less and blah blah, but that would be my bare minimum for me to consider raising a family in these areas and have a job that requires me to be in the city itself. 

Boston/LA/DC: I think if I were earning at least $180-200K and had a wife with some semblance of a career, I could life nicely in these cities

Chicago/Philly: Honestly, I think $150K base in these cities goes very, very far. It's so much cheaper to live in these areas than the other big cities

Atlanta/Houston/Other Sunbelt cities: $150K TC would go very far, although I may have to revisit this figure because they're rapidly getting expensive

Jun 9, 2021 - 12:22am

Thank you for posting this! It's great to hear that you were able to spend time building relationships and pursuing hobbies! I've been trying to do the same post-grad school.

When I decided to get an MBA part-time I knew I was (more or less) shutting the door on getting into IB, PE, and VC. I thought I was missing out.

F500 Finance roles don't pay a ton IMO but I can earn an honest living and have time for family, friends, exercise, dating, and creative outlets.

Your point on Chicago/Philly seems very reasonable to me. I'd like to think $150K goes far in Philly as well.

I must be making less than most people on this forum just based on location/COL. Philly does seem lower than most major cities

  • 3
Jun 9, 2021 - 12:25pm

Yeah, I definitely agree. I see some of the comp figures people are aiming for ITT and wonder what people are spending all their money on that requires that high of a salary. I understand needing $250K+ in NYC/SF (kind of) because property is so damn expensive out there and taxes are high, but people are quoting those numbers even outside those cities or in the suburb areas of those cities, which is crazy to me. I'm not one to tell people how to live their lives, but, on my end, as long as I make enough to support and family and invest (build wealth over time - not try to 10x on cumrocket overnight), I don't really understand what else I could possibly want that would warrant the extra stress and hours that a high-paying career demands. The only thing I like spending a lot of money on is international travel, but that's not exactly something I'd be doing for more than a couple of weeks per year, if I'm lucky.

Side note, but I sometimes wonder what the point is of earning a lot of money, being miserable, yet pushing your kids into private school so they can get into an Ivy and continue the cycle with their kids. I see this a lot with my peers (I'm Indian and hang around a lot of high achievers) and have realized over time how ironic it is. I think a lot of people in these careers think that earning even more money will solve their problems, yet it never ends up doing so. It just raises the bar further because they get accustomed to that lifestyle/hang out with a new crowd that spends even more, so they remain miserable. I'd rather my kids figure out what actually makes them intrinsically happy and earn enough to support them in whatever that endeavor. Perhaps this is a topic for another thread, however... 

May 24, 2021 - 9:08pm

At 35 - 200k base. 300k all-in. Tier 2/3 cities only (will never move to NYC or SF)

At 40 - 250k base. 375k all-in. Tier 2/3 cities only (will never move to NYC or SF)

Will be happy if I can consistently bring in ~400-500k a year from 45 to 55...and take a 2 years retirement package after that.

Oct 7, 2021 - 7:25pm

Laborum hic eius nobis porro labore. Laudantium consequuntur dignissimos quis ipsum temporibus ipsum. Sit itaque pariatur autem odio repellat non.

Doloribus rerum iste voluptatem beatae aut. Ab eveniet dolorem commodi optio distinctio fugit. Possimus vitae ut aut velit tempora tempore quibusdam. Et pariatur ipsam quae magni laudantium magni molestiae. Eos facilis recusandae et consequatur autem quis. Quia natus dignissimos omnis doloremque praesentium.

Voluptatibus odio et quo voluptatibus accusamus et illo. Vero id iure et voluptas animi in.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

December 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (10) $853
  • Vice President (40) $360
  • Associates (237) $235
  • 2nd Year Analyst (145) $156
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (34) $154
  • Intern/Summer Associate (107) $146
  • 1st Year Analyst (515) $136
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (396) $84