Even if the pay hits a plateau, working in private equity still beats investment banking

Autor: Article based upon analysis from Reuters Breakingviews | Link: Private equity’s pay boom may have peaked
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Unfavorable market conditions marked by rising interest rates and volatility from geopolitical tensions such as the Russia-Ukraine war have prevented private equity firms, including Carlyle, from cashing out investments for top dollar.

With fundraising getting harder, the pay in this business, which is the envy of the financial sector, may be hitting a plateau.

According to a survey by recruiter Heidrick & Struggles, cited by Reuters, the average European partner or a managing partner at a buyout firm like KKR, Blackstone or EQT cashes in an annualized total of €2.6 million.

In investment banking, high-ranking staff earns less than €2.5 million, including bonuses.

For the vast majority of private equity associates, the base salary is around $135k-$155k. Then, based on fund performance, bonuses tend to range from 100% to 150% of the base salary.

Midway through 2021, banks increased base salaries for Analysts from $85k – $95k to $100k – $110k.

And then, in January 2022, many banks increased Analyst base salaries again so that 1st Years earn $110k and 2nd Years earn $125k.

The average European partner will rake in roughly €630k ($650k) this year, with almost half in an annual cash bonus.

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Also, there are 20 million euros of so-called carried interest in his latest fund.

That refers to their portion of the 20% share of profits from investments that buyout firms charge, most of which gets paid towards the end of a fund’s life.

At Deutsche Bank, on the other hand, 520 high-ranking staff earnt more than €1 million, including bonuses in 2021. But 405 of them raked in less than €2.5 million.

These days, buyout fundraising is getting trickier, with pension funds being more selective.

So slower money-raising fund sizes could stop growing. Also, the recent boom years have seen a flood of capital competing for a relatively small number of proven buyout investors, boosting pay.

That’s been especially true for senior women in Europe, whose scarcity means they now out-earn men in private equity on average, according to Heidrick & Struggles data covering fixed pay and cash bonuses.

Even if the supply and demand balance tilts back in firms’ favor now that the pace of deal-making is slowing, working in private equity still tops everything else in the financial world.