It is nearly three and a half years since I graduated from university, and this year I will earn $325k working for a top M&A boutique. That's pretty good, even for someone twice my age.
Pay for juniors in banking has gone crazy. I come from a modest family background and my parents were immigrants. We didn't have that much while I was growing up and now earning more than my parents would have even considered possible.
It's crazy money and I already see my colleagues going wild. They have no idea what to do with all this money. - I've seen people spend thousands on clothes and watches or fly first class to crazy resort holidays. People are going nuts, especially if they haven't had this kind of disposable income before.
Of course, we worked really hard for this. There are no real restrictions on working hours here, and you can easily work weekends and be up working until 2am or 3am for a whole week straight. If you're serious about getting paid, you can't complain or talk about protected Saturdays.
Most of my university friends aren't in banking. They went into accounting and are earning $40k-$55k. I never tell them how much I earn.
I'm not going to be blowing my money on watches and holidays. I'm playing a longer game. $325k might sound like a lot when you're 24, but it's not so much after tax, and it's not enough to retire on. It's not going to sort me out or wipe out my parents' mortgage.
If you're in banking, you want to stay until MD level. – Once you get to MD level, you are making low double-digit millions that is what the game is about. The guys who make the serious money are at the top, and it takes around 13 years to get there.
Working in banking is about grinding your way through these junior years. I don't map my career on a year-by-year basis, but I know where I want to be heading. You have to really want it. You need the hunger, and then you don't think about the hours. It helps not to come from a privileged family - if you do, you wouldn't work like this.
It also helps that I enjoy a lot of what I'm doing. Yes, you get awkward personalities asking to change the colors or move a text box on client presentations, but a lot of the work is actually very interesting. That's good, because it can be easy to run out of energy in this energy, and it's no good burning out when you're still on the bottom rung.
Alessandro Patel is a pseudonym
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