If you work as a relationship manager in corporate banking you will never be as well rewarded as the rainmakers in investment banking. On the flip side, corporate banking does offer a more stable career – lay-offs are less common – and recruitment is rising as banks seek out steadier revenue streams. As a result, talent shortages are now cropping up in the sector and salaries are starting to increase.
But which major financial centres offer the best base salaries? We looked at recent compensation surveys from recruitment firms to produce the tables below, which compare average corporate banking pay (in US$) in the US, UK, Singapore and Hong Kong across five levels of seniority.
Junior and mid-level corporate bankers in the US have a clear earnings advantage over their counterparts in the other three markets – you’ll be paid $80k on average as an analyst there, almost double what you’ll get in Singapore. In fact the US has the highest base salaries right up until VP level.
While salaries in US corporate banking remain lower than in investment banking, the percentage pay rises on offer for those who move firms can now top 20%, says Oliver Hayes, principal consultant at recruitment firm Selby Jennings in New York.
“In the US there’s a lot of pressure for salaries to be increased for RMs in corporate banking,” says Hayes. “Corporate bankers believe they work similar hours to those on the IBD side and that their part in deals is essential. So they feel justified to request similarly high increases. Additionally, banks here are now very selective when hiring and base salaries have been creeping up to remain competitive.”
At director and MD level, the US loses its salary edge over the other markets – directors in the UK can potentially out-earn their American counterparts, for example. If you’ve reached the director ranks you will be managing more clients and generating substantially more revenue than your junior counterparts, making corporate banks more willing to offer salaries in excess of $200k.
While analysts and associates in Asia are paid a lot less than those in the US and UK, the gap narrows from VP level. And corporate banking pay is rising faster than pay in most other parts of the Asian finance sector, say recruiters. “Talent shortages and demand for new clients have caused upward pressure on salaries for corporate banking relationship managers,” says Dean Stallard, regional director of recruiters Hays in Hong Kong. “A premium must be paid to attract an RM so they will take the risk of moving current client relationships to a new platform.”