Pay in banking vs. consulting vs. tech vs. medicine vs. law
We've been here before (many times), but a new and significant discussion point has been added to the perennial debate about which career is best if your principal objective is earning money, and so we are addressing the issue again. Which career will best set you up financially in the first 10 years of your working life?
A mysterious spreadsheet says that, yep, it's still banking. Circulated on forums like Wall Street Oasis and Blind just after Christmas, it suggests that over a 10-year period working in investment banking (ie. M&A and equity and debt capital markets roles, not banking tech and not quant roles) for a top tier bank you can earn a cumulative $3.7m. This apparently compares to: $1.3m in medicine; $3.5m in software engineering at a FAANG company; $2.3m in management consulting at a McKinsey, Bain or BCG; and $2.1m in big law at a Cravath Swaine and Moore or Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
Created by someone who describes himself as a first-year analyst in an investment bank, the figures are for high achievers only. This is purportedly how much you can earn as a top performer at the top firms in each industry - not how much you can earn as a middling employee at a non-elite-household name. Validation isn't easy, particular for senior roles where variations between individuals can be enormous.
We've added the figures underpinning the conclusion that you're still financially best off in banking so that you can see them in the chart below. We've also added a screenshot given that our charts don't always seem to work on mobile (we're looking into this).
Needless to say, earnings alone don't take into consideration the number of hours worked or hourly pay. With junior bankers still complaining about working weeks of 80 hours+ banking may be seem less lucrative when you factor-in the amount of life sacrificed for the $3.7m.
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