When we last met, I was crowing about having paid off $52,050.74 in student loan principal.
I’m still mighty proud of that particular achievement, but this morning, an article from Ignites, an electronic publication available to corporate subscribers only, crossed my path and completely changed my perspective.
Banking Deal: Earn 1.20% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Barclays.
The article? Average Portfolio Manager Pay Tops $450K.
At $450,000-some a year, it seems I could have paid off my loans in about ten minutes, instead of ten years. Alas, it’s a long, hard road for those of us who are math-averse.
But maybe there’s a message in this for some of you out there, those of you who have enough of an interest in financial topics to regularly read blogs like this one.
In doing some research, I happened across a Boston-based job listing which shows the sheer earning potential of this type of career. A full-time position requiring a Ph.D in Math or Physics and 7 to 10 years of relevant work experience, it offers $450-600K in total compensation. There are lots more such jobs out there, too, but this one openly lists its salary range. I’ll repost here so you can see what’s involved:
Leading Asset Management Firm in Boston seeks a Sr. Fixed Income Quantitative Analyst. On a daily basis the successful candidate will recommend specific relative value strategies to the PM. Additional responsibilities include: implementation and development of pricing and risk models for cash and derivative products, interaction with Currency and Structured Credit Products analysts and PM’s, and programming in C++ and/or VB. Requires a minimum of 7 years experience in F.I. as a Quantitative analyst on the buyside. Also requires a PhD in Math or Physics in addition to strong communication and leadership skills.
Now there’s a nice payback for a Ph.D! I’m amused because I recall my math-genius brother (someone had to get all the analytical skills in my family) dropping his Physics major in college because he felt there wasn’t much income potential with such a high-flown degree, and university jobs seemed scarce. He switched over to Computer Science, which seemed more lucrative. But I don’t know any CS majors earning over $450K unless they’ve founded their own companies. Sorry, big brother! He got his Masters from Stanford, too.
Those of you qualified for this position should not read beyond this point – you should be applying for the above position posthaste. For everyone else, I’ll give an overview of the Ignites article, since many of you won’t be able to read it directly.
In the article, Kevin Burke details the recent results of a CFA Institute study, finding that equity portfolio managers are the top earners among investment professionals, with an average salary of $456,000 a year. Polling more than 75,000 investment professionals worldwide, they received over 13,500 responses, and learned lots of juicy details about industry salaries.
A CFA news release from Thursday shares some of the facts:
In the U.S., the three highest compensated positions at all levels of experience are portfolio managers (equities) ($456,000), followed by investment bankers ($275,000) and then sell-side research analysts ($195,000). Buy-side research analysts (equity and fixed income) fall in the middle of the pack at all levels of experience.
The pattern for cash bonus is also affected by years of experience. There is little variability in median cash bonus for those with less than five years of experience. However, the gap widens at five to 10 years of experience. At all levels of experience, portfolio managers (equities) ($200,000) and investment bankers ($185,000) reported cash bonuses that are more than double that for most other occupations.
Not just is there a high potential payoff for choosing this career path, but after putting in your five years, the financial outlook keeps getting rosier. Granted, there’s likely some attrition here, with those who aren’t as qualified weeded out while those who are successful begin to see increased rewards and bonuses. After the ten-year mark, the average portfolio manager compensation grows to $499K.
A significant portion of the managers’ compensation comes from performance-based bonuses. Ninety percent of those surveyed were bonus-eligible, and indicated that, on average, bonuses comprise 25% of their overall package. Bonuses can be tied to individual, business unit, and/or firm performance. Some are a percentage of total assets.
The bonus component also means that companies aren’t stuck paying high salaries when the market’s down. So this certainly isn’t a rest-on-your-laurels type job, but there’s ample reward for a job well done.
Unsurprisingly, location also affects compensation, with the highest earners across all levels operating out of New York City, followed by other major metropolitan areas.
Who knew a Ph.D in Math or Physics could be so lucrative? It may be too late for my brother to become a portfolio manager, but perhaps, if you’re seeking a career change, it’s not too late for you.
Image credit: Yomanimus
Updated October 15, 2015 and originally published October 19, 2007.