“We Thought Our Pay Would Be Higher” –Bankers

wolf-of-wall-street-pic09After days of toggling between news of Baltimore and news of Nepal, I am primed to be unsympathetic to the plight of people in finance who feel unsatisfied by their compensation. Still, let’s hear them out.

Asked whether they earn more or less than they expected when they decided to pursue a finance career, 48 percent of respondents in the Bloomberg Markets Global Poll say compensation is less or much less than they had hoped for. Just 14 percent say their pay exceeds expectations. A third say they earn about what they thought they would. …

The trend is clear. Goldman Sachs, for one, set aside $12.7 billion for compensa­tion last year, or 36.8 percent of revenue. Since the company went public in 1999, the only lower number was 36 percent in 2009. The 2014 figure averages out to $373,265 per employee, down from $504,750 in 2007.

“They’re still making decent money, but it’s nothing like 2007,” says Jeanne Bran­thover, head of the financial services division at Boyden Global Executive Search. “It’s harder to get a big bonus because there are more metrics that come into play, in­cluding how well the whole firm does.”

Only $373,265 per employee and harder to get a big bonus! It’s the end of men. 

No, I get it. They graduated from top schools, they work long hours, and they were led to expect they would be rewarded for their achievements with gold and glory. Instead, they lunch on disillusionment and dine disgruntled. They can barely taste the Chateaubriand.

Here, have some charts.

expectations vs reality

future of wall street

I don’t know an awful lot about the secret to happiness; an old man was going to tell me once, in a dream, but I woke up before he could. It seems like expecting or hoping for X and getting X+ has a lot to do with contentment, though. Being pleasantly surprised by life. Feeling lucky.

Conversely, if you expect Y, and you end up with Y-, even if Y- puts you in the top 1% of the most privileged people to ever walk the earth, or more likely, ride over it in chauffeured cars, you’re going to feel sour. Even, perhaps, cheated.

Do the bankers regret heading to Wall Street? Would they encourage their former selves to try a line of work that’s less lucrative but potentially more fulfilling? Do they consider, even now, making a switch? Bloomberg doesn’t ask. I’d like to know, though. Finance folks — and, indeed, readers in general who are making either less or way less than you thought you’d be making in your chosen career — tell us, please. If you thought you’d be getting Y and are getting Y-, what now?

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