If you want to get ahead in investment banking, are you better off slogging away with a single employer or transferring to a competitor every few years?
The answer, historically, has been transferring. Given the possibility of moving for a 20-50% compensation uplift, getting a guarantee, and inflating your title, the benefits of moving were legion.
Over the longer term, however, each job move you make will deliver a diminishing marginal uplift to your compensation. Each time you change jobs, you will become more expensive; this will naturally lead to a decay in the relative increase you can expect next time.
Equally, each time you move on, you will crystallise your market value, plus a premium. Prior to the subsequent move, it will be necessary to justify that premium. And this could prove difficult if you’ve joined a firm with a weak franchise, where your best efforts have minimal effect.
Every job move you make is therefore exposing your future compensation levels to serious downside risk.
This being the case, do you really want to take the chance of moving? By staying with a single employer you can build personal equity in a single institution. In a world where promotion to the senior ranks has become much more democratised, this is likely to prove invaluable. Without that equity your name has little chance of making it through the various committees which decide upon promotions and job opportunities.
And the same time, as the ratio of MDs to non-MDs increases, banks have become less willing to allow new hires to make the all-important leap from VP to MD. If you’re moving to a new bank and hoping to break out of the VP-trap, forget it.
In future, the most perspicacious bankers will stay with a single employer for a lot longer. Regular three year jumps are history.