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Why software engineers in banks complain about their pay

As we reported last week, JPMorgan has been spotted hiking salaries for some of its mid-ranking software engineers in California to $300k. The move comes after relentless complaints on forum websites like Blind that banks underpay compared to technology companies and yet still expect engineers to work comparatively long hours. 

The recent eFinancialCareers compensation guide, based on our recent salary and bonus survey, helps shed some light on engineers' whinges.

Although some technology staff in banks are now receiving salaries of $300k, most are not. As the charts below show, it's usually only managing directors in technology jobs on Wall Street who receive $300k salaries. VPs are more likely to get $187k, plus a $57k bonus. 

In London, our survey puts VPs in technology on slightly higher average salaries (£146k/$195k) but far lower bonuses (£22k/$29k).

The data points in the charts help explain why technologists in banks have a tendency to complain about pay, even though they often work shorter hours than people in other banking divisions. - Average pay for engineers in banks is still considerably lower than in big tech firms. At Google, for example, entry-level engineers (Level 3) are typically paid around $190k in total compensation after graduation. At banks, associates with over two years' experience are on $177k.

Nor does it help that first year investment bankers are now on salaries of up to $120k and total packages of around $180k when bonuses are added. 

Comments on our survey reflected the gripes. "I'd like a pay increase and fewer meetings," said one VP in technology at UBS. "I want to be paid better, to work with technology that's not obsolete and to be treated better by the front office," said a VP at JPMorgan. Another senior technologist said he wanted a bigger share of the bonus pool. One Goldman engineering VP said simply that he wanted, "Better comp, better comp, better comp."

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Photo by Ryan Stone on Unsplash

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Vi
    Vince Lynch
    21 December 2021

    Start-up's trade on speculation about potential future growth. Banks trade on the ground reality. It's very easy to be a hype man. Let's also not forget that Google/Facebook are monopolies. Whereas banks trade on once again free market realities. The reality is. that engineering is about converting ideas into on-the-ground reality, and that means with tight schedules and constant change.. iteration happens more frequently and the hours are longer.

  • Wa
    Wayne B.
    18 December 2021

    Now convert it to an hourly rate. This is always fun. I'll wait.

  • SK
    17 December 2021

    Questionable data

  • wi
    william payne
    17 December 2021

    Software engineers limit module size to less than one page of code to conform to Boeing hardware engineers software standards. Before 1966 to after 1980. Computer programmers do not. They make 'c/c++ "messes" ?

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