Pay is, of course, becoming a lot more complex in the financial sector and investment banks are keen to build their internal compensation teams in order to meet the demands of both employees and regulators. There’s just one problem – there are not enough people available.
Investment banks are slowly building their compensation teams in order to both navigate the tricky new regulatory environment and ensure that pay remains competitive relative to their peers. Banks employ specialists in deferred compensation, equity payments, international tax, and regulatory remuneration issues as well as those tasked with working out cash payments.
“Banks are building their compensation teams,” said Claire Hodgson, senior consultant for HR at recruiters Morgan McKinley. “The main challenges banks face attracting talent is that there is currently a lack of candidates for compensation roles in the market. Attracting candidates for these roles is difficult as they’re not actively looking.”
These roles are surprisingly well-paid, considering that they sit in an HR function. One compensation consultant working for a Big Four firm, said that they pay “a fraction of what people earn in the investment banks” for an equivalent role.
After three years’ experience, £60-80k is the normal salary range, he suggests, while a head of reward for a European bank should expect over £250k and a head of deferred compensation can earn over £150k. Across financial services, figures from Robert Walters suggest a £100-200k average for a head of compensation and benefits and £75-100k for a compensation and benefits manager.
Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley all have open roles in this area.
So, why are these people so hard to find? It’s not just a supply and demand issue: “One problem is that people are pigeon-holed into particular specialism early in their career, which is not conducive longer term to offering the step up to a senior position with a more general compensation focus,” said the compensation consultant.”Banks are also likely to look externally for the more complex advice, which doesn’t make in-house staff feel overly-valued.”
Junior investment bankers in the front office burning the midnight oil may disagree, but it’s also something of a gruelling position to work in. It’s common to work at least 60 hours a week, and you can add another 20 as compensation cycles looms. “It’s a hugely stressed and pressurised environment, which you can only remain in for so long,” said the compensation consultant. Therefore, people either go it alone, or move into a consultancy, he said.
Ironically, perhaps, in the past two years or so that the job has become much more interesting, with the regulators spicing up the complexity of the role by changing compensation within investment banking so much.
“Investment banks are having to extend their search beyond the sector – consultancies are happy hunting grounds, but so are retail banks and insurance firms,” said the compensation expert.