We compared figures from Emolument.com, the real time pay benchmarking company, on average compensation over a 10 year period in a front office role in an investment bank, a hedge fund, and a long only asset management firm. We then netted those figures to take account of UK income tax.
After tax, the only area of finance in which you can take home an average of £1m+ over a ten year period is hedge funds. Other sectors are nowhere near: take-home pay in banking is typically 30% lower.
Predictably, much of the pay in hedge funds comes from bonuses. Emolument founder (and ex-Morgan Stanley VP) Alice Leguay, notes that you can earn large bonuses early on in hedge funds. As the helpful chart here shows, rewards for outstanding performance in hedge funds still accrue to individuals: once you've exceeded a hurdle rate and had your costs deducted, a hedge fund will typically pay you a steady proportion of your returns equivalent to 40% to 60% of the performance fees earned on your P&L. This can be very lucrative.