Junior Wall Street Traders’ Salaries Just Hit $100K — Before Bonuses

Business team deal on a stock exchange. Stock traders concept. stock photo
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If you’re concerned about student loan debt, your best bet may be to pursue a degree in finance to become an investment banker on Wall Street. New college grads are demanding starting salaries of $100,000+ plus bonuses, an amount that is roughly five times more than the medium wage for college graduates entering other fields, according to Bloomberg.

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Earning six figures in the first year of your career should make it easy to put a dent in college debt, but there are trade-offs. These young investment bankers are expected to put in 100-hour plus weeks. And even at these salaries, many are resisting. It’s not just the hospitality and retail industries feeling the crunch of the labor shortage. New investment bankers feel they have more leverage because the banks are having a hard time filling desks. Wall Street’s answer is to increase starting salaries, but that’s not what these recruits necessarily want.

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Late nights, long hours and weekend work are nothing new on Wall Street. However, a group of 13 first-year employees at Goldman Sachs presented a slide deck detailing the rigors of investment banking life, which was subsequently leaked to the public, Bloomberg reported.

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The young bankers were trying to create a culture shift in an industry that has thrived on the backs of these workers for decades. Former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein told Bloomberg that when he started his career in the mid-70s, “work-life balance did not top my list of concerns.”

On the other hand, 88% of today’s knowledge workers say they want flexible hours and the choice to work remotely, according to Citrix’s Talent Accelerator study.

Wall Street Ups the Ante for New Recruits

The slide deck did lead to some initial changes, including a promise of Saturdays off at some investment firms. But when workloads began to increase again, they reneged on these promises.

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Instead, firms delivered “expressions of sympathy,” Bloomberg wrote, along with free Pelotons and one-time bonuses during the pandemic. Six figure salaries represent the culmination of Wall Street’s desperate bid to recruit and retain talent.

Among the investment banks offering the highest base pay are Jefferies, Goldman Sachs and Guggenheim Partners, all paying new grads $110,000+. Evercore Inc. exceeded them all with a starting salary of $120,000. Other big banks, including Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase are offering $100,000, according to Bloomberg.

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In spite of the changes, Wall Street veterans believe the tides will turn again and young workers will lose their bargaining power. “I hope those who are being recruited in today’s sellers’ market for talent can keep perspective,” Blankfein told Bloomberg. “I don’t care what profession a young person is going into — hard work and grueling hours are necessary for learning.”

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Last updated: August 19, 2021

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
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