Hardly a day goes by without a big bank announcing a significant rise in starting salaries for its youngest employees. JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, UBS and Morgan Stanley are now paying first-year bankers $100,000, while Evercore, Jefferies and Goldman Sachs will pay $110,000. In most cases, base salaries for first-year analysts were previously $85,000 to $95,000.
The pay is rising as the heavy workloads caused by high deal flow have led to complaints about burnout in the junior ranks. A notoriously grueling job has become even more challenging during the pandemic, junior bankers say, given the lack of camaraderie and networking when working in isolation from home. The surge in coronavirus cases as a result of the Delta variant has made return-to-office plans less certain, complicating many banks’ aggressive push to bring people back in the office, in part for the sake of morale.
More money could help attract and retain junior bankers, but now that most of the major players have landed at about the same rate, it isn’t necessarily a competitive advantage. Flexible working schedules for those back at the office, Zoom-free Fridays and other nonmonetary perks could help. More immediately, the DealBook newsletter notes, it’s worth watching to see if pandemic precautions at the office become a differentiator in Wall Street’s war for talent.
The boutique bank Jefferies said on Monday that it would mandate vaccines for those returning to the office, a decision made partly in response to the Delta variant. The bank’s executives said in a letter last month that while “the vast preponderance” of workers at the bank were vaccinated, it recorded 40 new cases of Covid, mostly mild but including two “short hospitalizations.”
Morgan Stanley also has a vaccine mandate for staff and visitors to its New York offices, while other banks, like Goldman Sachs, require employees to log their vaccination status before going to the office but don’t mandate vaccination. Bank of America has said it was focused on bringing back vaccinated employees first to corporate headquarters next month.
It’s a different calculation for the biggest banks, with universal policies hard to impose on operations across the country, from Wall Street offices to Middle America retail branches. As some banks, like Wells Fargo, have recently delayed their planned office returns, JPMorgan announced that it was only reinstating mask requirements for all U.S. employees, many of whom are back in offices on rotations. But a memo to staff from the bank’s operating committee flagged a potential change to its workplace policy down the road: “We deeply appreciate your efforts and will continue with our previously stated return to the office schedule as we learn more about how hybrid working may work for our company.”
Lananh Nguyen contributed reporting.