The highest paying jobs in finance

By Andrew Harbison, CA Today

19 May 2016

A job in the finance industry is often synonymous with earning a high salary, but exactly which jobs pay out at the top end of the scale?

A new report published by the salary benchmarking site shows that, by industry, a job in investment banking will see you pulling in an average pay 30% higher than workers in the buy-side institutions, including asset management and hedge fund companies.

The report states that the salaries increase in relation to the amount of risk involved in the job. For instance, a research analyst for a ratings agency provides valuable findings which are key influencers in the market. However, the analyst will not face any kind of exposure on the back of their recommendation and will have no direct impact on their employer’s top line.

Emolument chart


On the other side of the scale, the bonuses of traders and fund managers are directly tied to the performance of their fund and whether it makes a profit or a loss.

This is one reason that the bonuses of ratings agency directors are a fifth of their counterparts in investment banking, according to the report.

The highest paying finance jobs

Activity Salary Bonus Total
M&A £178,000 £148,000 £326,000
Bank Trader £161,000 £120,000 £281,000
Origination &  Syndication £175,000 £105,000 £280,000
Structuring £153,000 £103,000 £256,000
Institutional Sales (Banking) £150,000 £100,000 £250,000
Asset Gathering/Fundraising £120,000 £110,000 £230,000
Private Equity LBO £123,000 £102,000 £225,000
Fund Management £124,000 £100,000 £224,000
Venture Capital Investment £130,000 £60,000 £190,000
Research (Banking) £112,000 £75,000 £187,000
Relationship Management (Banking) £139,000 £39,000 £178,000
Portfolio Management £120,000 £43,000 £163,000
Product Specialist £105,000 £55,000 £160,000
Product Development & Marketing £100,000 £60,000 £160,000
Relationship Management (Buy-Side) £105,000 £42,000 £147,000
Risk £110,000 £42,000 £134,000
Ratings Agency Research Analyst £111,000 £22,000 £133,000
Middle & Back Office Generalist £88,000 £16,000 £104,000


A job in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) tops the board for both the highest average salary and bonus. When comparing M&A with the second highest paying job (bank trader), the report shows a 16% difference, stating that this is partly down to the fact that M&A workers' “lifestyles are vastly different” to those of traders.

“M&A projects tend to last weeks or months with 24/7 working hours, whilst in trading, decisions are made in an instant, with the working day over as soon as markets close. Are the sweat and tears of a career in M&A worth the extra 16%? [That's] a personal decision.”

Alice Leguay, Co-Founder & COO at says that, even though banking is still the highest paying sector, the large bonuses are as much a curse are they are a blessing.

She said: “Senior bankers who have been accustomed to a plush standard of living through a career of earning sky-high bonuses are often trapped in the industry, both burning through their revenue to cover household costs, and not making the fortunes they were aiming for 10 years ago.”


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