How Do Investment Banking Salaries Stack Up?

By Robert Half January 15, 2018 at 2:45pm

Are you considering what career in banking is right for you? As you explore the paths for finance professionals, one step is to examine the projections for commercial banking versus investment banking salaries.

The key differences between these two sectors can seem worlds apart. Read on to find out a few factors that differentiate these careers, from commercial and investment banking salaries to the types of employers and work duties you can expect in these careers.

Investment banking salaries

For some professionals, compensation is the primary driver behind their career planning. For the most part, professionals in investment banking careers negotiate a higher salary than those in commercial banking.

Leading investment banks like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America said in Bloomberg Business they planned to increase salaries for junior bankers by at least 20 percent beginning in 2015.

Research from the 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide now shows a managing director or partner in investment banking can expect a midpoint salary of $190,000, not including bonuses, this year.

At the level of vice president, compensation varies widely, but the midpoint starting salary projection is $150,000, according to the Salary Guide. Associates can expect $105,000 at the midpoint, with $70,000 for analysts in investment banking in 2018.

Visit our Salary Center for an up-to-date overview of the hiring environment and an investment banker salary calculation for your city.

Commercial banking salaries

For commercial banking, there's a rebound, too. From small community institutions to national firms, banks are adding staff to handle relationship management, business development, credit analysis, and operations and compliance positions in the mortgage sector.

Salaries vary greatly depending on the experience and position, many of which are accompanied by annual bonuses. Research from the Salary Guide shows a commercial lender with one to three years of experience can expect a starting salary of $57,500 at the midpoint.

For a commercial lender with five or more years of experience, the midpoint salary is $105,000, according to Robert Half financial services executives. A private banker with five or more years of experience can expect a starting salary of $95,000.

At the midpoint, candidates have average experience with the necessary skills to meet the job requirements. The salaries listed in the Salary Guide are based on actual placements throughout the United States, as well as an analysis of the demand for the role, the supply of talent and other market conditions. Bonuses and benefits are not taken into account.

Types of employers and work

If you choose an accounting career in commercial banking, you’ll likely work for a bank branch or a bank’s corporate headquarters. Commercial banks offer customers an array of financial services, including checking and savings accounts, mortgage loans, auto loans, credit cards and IRAs. And for commercial businesses, banks will offer commercial loans, equipment financing, cash management, real estate financing and more.

At the branch level, financial professionals can choose from a variety of career options ranging from bank teller and retail loan officer to sales professional, operations specialist, trust officer, branch manager, commercial credit analyst and commercial banker. The most skilled financial professionals often land positions at the bank’s corporate headquarters, where they can expand into more complex areas, such as international trade finance, risk management, credit administration and investment management.

In comparison, investment banks act as intermediaries between corporations and investors. Because these companies often include a number of different divisions with varying responsibilities, there is a wide variety of career options within the investment banking sector.

Investment bankers facilitate the issuance of securities and make these securities available for investors to purchase. These professionals also offer investment advice to corporations and individual investors, handle mergers and acquisitions, and trade stocks, bonds and other securities. In-demand specialties include private equity accounting, hedge fund accounting, fund administration, trade clearance and settlement operations, asset management, and collateral and derivatives expertise.

It’s important to weigh all of these factors, from the banker salary to duties to employers, as you consider your future career. As you try to choose the right path — commercial or investment banking — think about which of these sectors most closely aligns with your long-term interests and goals.

Are you ready to take a closer look?

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