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The highest paying investment banks in the world, ranked

What’s the difference between two investment banks?

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If you ask sane people, they’ll talk about work-life balance. If you ask an investment banker, they’ll talk about their paycheck. So it stands to reason that the best investment bank in the world – according to the people that work in them – are the ones that pay the best. 

Our 2024 salary and bonus report shed some light on which banks exactly were the most generous with their compensation. Our report was based on over 6,000 respondents to our survey, from every major financial institution (including banks, private equity firms, and hedge funds) in every major financial center (including New York, London, Hong Kong, and Singapore). 

So, the million-dollar (or in this case, 398,319 dollar) question. Who in banking is getting paid the most? The answer shouldn’t surprise you. But the rest of the list just might.

Please note that, due to sample sizes deemed too small to be reliable, a number of firms – particularly boutique investment banks – were not included in this table.

(We're still having problems displaying charts on mobile, so please view this on a desktop for the moment). 

1. Goldman Sachs is the highest paying bank overall - $398k in combined salaries and bonuses, on average

Goldman Sachs, which paid average salaries of $200k and average bonuses of $199k for 2023, was the highest paying bank we polled. It took top position by virtue a leap in bonus payments. Although the bank’s people told us last year that they were expecting 29% increases, a 20% increase might not be so painful. Not for most, at least.

2. Citigroup's average salaries and bonuses were $372k

Citigroup came second for average compensation in our survey. Although it had the highest average salaries, at $228k, it was let down by a big (10%) slide in bonuses paid out, which stood at $144k in 2023. Citi’s people told us that they expected their bonuses to be more or less flat this year when we surveyed them a few months ago, that’s still got to hurt, even in the midst of a 20,000-strong job cuts program.

3. Deutsche Bank paid an average of $353k

Deutsche Bank was a surprisingly strong third place in our survey. The bank paid an enormous $210k in salary on average, the second highest average on our list, as well as a very respectable $143k in bonuses. Like at Citi, our Deutsche Bank respondents said they also suffered from a significant fall (8%) in bonuses, while its people were expecting a 10% increase at the end of last year.

4. Standard Chartered paid an average of $331k

Standard Chartered paid a very decent average salary of $176k, and a very good average bonus of $154k according to our respondents. Bonuses there were flat compared to last year. The bank, despite being based in the UK, is very much Asia-focused, with its main business activity in Hong Kong and Singapore. Both regions performed poorly in 2023, suggesting that Standard Chartered is making an effort to retain its people whilst others in the region are cutting

5. Bank of America paid an average of $326k

Bank of America paid average salaries of $196k in 2023, as well as average bonuses of $130k. That’s pretty good, and it’s also a healthy increase on last year – BofA’s people told us that their bonuses rose by 16% on average, one of the highest increases we polled. That’ll be an even more impressive number given that they were expecting their bonuses to fall by 3%.

6. UBS paid an average of $323k

UBS’ people had an unsatisfactory year in terms of compensation, but they might be overreacting somewhat. The bank paid average salaries of $189k, as well as average bonuses of $134k – a very reasonable 6% increase on last year. Given that UBS people had told us that they were expecting just a 3% increase, not to mention the nightmare that was integrating Credit Suisse, that doesn’t seem as bad as it could have been.

7. NatWest paid an average of $318k

NatWest paid average salaries of $208k and average bonuses of $110k in 2023. The bank’s staff had a mixed fate in 2023, with juniors allegedly receiving healthy salary increases, whilst senior staff were squeezed, with 20% bonus cuts being the norm. That tracks pretty well with the 13% salary decreases we polled. 

8. William Blair paid an average of $314k

William Blair paid average salaries of $189k and average bonuses of $125k in 2023. Those are pretty good numbers for a bank not generally regarded as paying well – its bonus numbers especially were a nearly 20% increase on last year’s. The bank was the most-respected boutique firm in our 2023 Ideal Employer report, although mostly for reasons unrelated to compensation.

9. HSBC paid an average of $312k

Our respondents said HSBC paid average salaries of $195k and average bonuses of $117k. The bank had the highest increase in average bonus, on average. That’s good news for the people that work, of course, but it’s also below what they were expecting. Our bonus expectations survey at the end of last year showed that HSBC’s people were expecting bonus increases of 30% - they got 21% in the end, on average. Better than them falling, as they did in other places.

10. Barclays paid an average of $305k

Such as at Barclays. Although traditionally seen as the biggest (and therefore best paying) of the major European banks, Barclays paid an average of $200k in salaries and $104k in bonuses in 2023. That’s pretty good, all in all, but bonuses alone were down 10% on 2022 – and Barclays’ people told us they were expecting increases of 16%. That was probably expected, however, given that it cut its bonus pool this year and announced that it was keeping the EU bonus cap.

11. JPMorgan paid an average of $299k

Respondents to our survey from JPMorgan paid an average of $196k in salaries and $104k in bonuses in 2023. The bank being so far down the compensation table might be a bit of a disappointment, both for people that worked there and for people that want to work there. JPMorgan topped our 2023 Ideal Employer ranking, with perceived pay satisfaction being a major driving factor behind the votes it received. Ouch.

12. Santander paid an average of $298k

Santander, which paid an average of $157k in salaries and $141k in bonuses, was biting on the heels of the much larger JPMorgan. That increase was massively driven by the bank’s push into investment banking, spearheaded by a $250m investment last year to “turbocharge” its investment bank. At a time when major rivals are downsizing, that’s a strong message – and it’s converted into salaries.

13. Morgan Stanley paid an average of $266k

Morgan Stanley is another bank whose position might lead to disappointment. Although it paid strong salaries, $174k on average, it was significantly let down by the rather paltry $92k in bonuses paid out. That was the second-lowest figure of the banks that we polled and was in large part due to an 8% decrease YoY. The bank’s poor bonus payouts in 2024 were well known, with “widespread disappointment” as a consequence. 

14. BNP Paribas paid an average of $240k

BNP Paribas paid an average of $137k in salaries and $103k in bonuses to its staff in 2023. Those are pretty well-balanced numbers, but they’re low compared to peers. The fact that the bank’s bonuses this year were down 10% on 2022’s will be an especially sore point, given that the fact that they performed very well indeed across 2024, especially its traders. BNP’s staff were expecting bonus increases of around 9%, too, a relatively modest increase compared to some others.

15. SocGen paid an average of $220k

SocGen rounding out the list is not surprising, with both the lowest average salaries and bonuses on average at $133k and $86k, respectively. What’s sad (for its people) is that things could have been very, very different. Near the start of last year, the bank promoted a new CEO, Slawomir Krupa, from the investment bank. There was much anticipation about the changes Krupa would make – but in the end, they fell flat

Our 2024 financial services salary & bonus report is available for download now on this page.

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: +44 7537 182250 (SMS, Whatsapp or voicemail). Telegram: @SarahButcher. Click here to fill in our anonymous form, or email Signal also available.

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AUTHORZeno Toulon Reporter

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