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Where to make £310k ($410k) a year in banking without killing yourself

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It’s the Holy Grail: a front office banking job that pays well, but doesn’t involve excruciating hours and a hideous work ethic. A new study from pay benchmarking company Emolument.com suggests it exists. Just not in London (and probably not in NYC).

The chart below shows Emolument’s figures for front office compensation at analyst, associate, vice president and managing director level in various European finance cities. Predictably, London pays by far the best. However, the other European cities don’t pay badly – you can still earn nearly £200k ($265k) as a VP in Frankfurt and over £300k as an MD. And Frankfurt, in particular, offers something that might be more important than cash.

While 39% of bankers in London complained that to Emolument they didn’t have a good “work life balance”, in Frankfurt just 30% of bankers did. – The implication is that while Frankfurt bankers might be paid less than in London, 70% of them are at least cool with their lives.

This might be because Frankfurt as a city is easy to commute in and out of, and therefore easier to work in than London when you have children. – Emolument founder Alice Leguay says bankers’ work-life satisfaction typically plummets everywhere once they have offspring. It also might be because Frankfurt bankers say there’s less of an after work drinking culture there, that life is cheap and that you get a whole hour off to eat your lunch.

Of course, Frankfurt’s apparent leisureliness is unlikely to survive Brexit. The incoming influx of overseas bankers is already destablizing the Frankfurt housing market and squeezing school spaces. And bankers in London famously took long lunches until the Americans arrived in the mid-1980s.

There’s also the possibility that Emolument’s intimation that Frankfurt bankers work less hard is wishful thinking. This time last year, a doctor was summoned to Goldman Sachs’ Frankfurt office after a junior banker working on a live deal collapsed at 2.30am and bankers in continental European financial centres typically insist that they work harder than their colleagues in London because teams there are smaller.  If Frankfurt bankers say their work life balance is better than Londoners’, maybe it’s simply because their expectations are lower than peers’ in the UK?

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Comments (1)

  1. I don’t think that bankers work less hard in Frankfurt. In Frankfurt the workload is more varying depending where you work. You can end up working more in some of the bulge brackets in Frankfurt, as they also get dumped with work from seniors in London and New York. Also at Rothschild and Lazard the work load is quite heavy. After that you have much smaller banks and boutiques where the work load can be lower – but not necesarily.

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