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Compensation Negotiation

Hey guys, could use some guidance here:

I currently work in wealth management and have been loosely applying for jobs (basically only easy applies on linkedin). I got a call for an equity research job with what looks like some great people at a small-ish firm. They called me and asked me what my salary expectation is, I told them a number that was less than I make now because I thought it would improve my chances of getting the job and it’s not the easiest industry to break into.

I’ve gone through the interview process now: 4 interviews total. I’ve met all the partners and my would-be manager. Everyone seems to like me a lot and they’ve stated that in our many emails since my first interview. They’ve given me the offer with my asking salary (keep in mind I only told HR this salary, no one else, and I’ve been in contact with partners ever since). Problem is, my contract doesn’t specify any bonus ontop of this base salary and without a bonus I’m effectively making ~30% less than I would be at my current job.

My first line of defense is an email asking about the bonus structure/total compensation. I fear they’ll get back to me and say that my salary is reviewed annually and that there’s no bonuses (maybe since the firm is on the smaller side..) or that bonuses are up to their discretion and I could end up with just my base.

Second line of defense is to ask for a higher base. This is really my issue because I’ve already stated to HR the exact number that they gave me (meaning it was too low, lol). Can I go back on this or do I just look like an idiot?

Some guidance would be very helpful as I don’t have much experience in negotiating compensation/industry standards.

Ok, I would gather your W-2 from the prior year or whatever so they don’t just think you’re making that up, if you decide to go back to them you’re going to have to have your ducks in a row.  I would just mention there may have been some confusion, you were thinking salary component but total comp is higher, here’s where I currently am, etc.  Be very polite and nice and ask what is possible, emphasize that you are still very interested in the role and are trying to weigh this keeping in mind that that gap is difficult for you to overcome.  Just ask if there’s anything they can do and see what they say.  If they say no, then you just have to make a personal decision about NPV of both routes.  Early in my career out of school, I took a role or two that paid less than I could have gotten if I was agnostic about the actual job function I would be performing, one was a straight up pay cut (granted, 2009).  It personally worked out for me, but others I know regret having done that just as context.

Maybe some of the others here will have different perspectives that can help.

#FreeCVM #FreeTurd #2007-2017

I saw your post in r/cfa and the top response is exactly what I would tell you. You got everything you asked for. You just low-balled yourself.

Sweep the Leg wrote:

I saw your post in r/cfa and the top response is exactly what I would tell you. You got everything you asked for. You just low-balled yourself.

Thanks for adding absolutely nothing to this discussion. As mentioned in the Reddit thread and in my OP, I stated a base that I was willing to accept assuming there was a bonus component which was likely to put me close enough to my desired comp to make this offer acceptable.

Black Swan wrote:

Ok, I would gather your W-2 from the prior year or whatever so they don’t just think you’re making that up, if you decide to go back to them you’re going to have to have your ducks in a row.  I would just mention there may have been some confusion, you were thinking salary component but total comp is higher, here’s where I currently am, etc.  Be very polite and nice and ask what is possible, emphasize that you are still very interested in the role and are trying to weigh this keeping in mind that that gap is difficult for you to overcome.  Just ask if there’s anything they can do and see what they say.  If they say no, then you just have to make a personal decision about NPV of both routes.  Early in my career out of school, I took a role or two that paid less than I could have gotten if I was agnostic about the actual job function I would be performing, one was a straight up pay cut (granted, 2009).  It personally worked out for me, but others I know regret having done that just as context.

Maybe some of the others here will have different perspectives that can help.

Thanks for your response. I’m in the negotiation process now, just had a phone call and basically told them what you said there.

imaginethat wrote:

Sweep the Leg wrote:

I saw your post in r/cfa and the top response is exactly what I would tell you. You got everything you asked for. You just low-balled yourself.

Thanks for adding absolutely nothing to this discussion. As mentioned in the Reddit thread and in my OP, I stated a base that I was willing to accept assuming there was a bonus component which was likely to put me close enough to my desired comp to make this offer acceptable.

I reinforced what others had already said to you, so that’s adding something. But, if want me to reiterate, you made a poor assumption when you gave them a comp number thinking they would add a bonus on top of it. You purposefully stated you’d work for less to get interviews. You got an interview at a place you like. Now you want more money. This probably isn’t going to end well.

From your prospective employer’s point of view, they think they have a comp number you’ll be happy with so they’re expecting you to take the job. Now you have a few options: 1) Take the job and eat the lower comp hoping you’ll either get a bonus or quickly move up. Neither are likely, though, because your new firm thinks they just got a bargain with you. 2) Go back and tell them you’ll need more money. They’ll likely rescind the offer because they’ll feel duped and it’s just a shady move after you’ve given a number to HR. Instead of just asking you to work for the original amount, they’ll probably pull the offer because they won’t want an employee working for them that’s unhappy with their comp. 3) Take the BS approach and have an honest discussion with them. Tell them exactly what you’ve told us. Be honest and say you’re really thrilled with the job opportunity but just can’t swing living off the lower comp. Then you’ll find out if they really want you, or if you were the right person at the right price.

tl;dr - Never give HR a comp number you won’t be happy getting. You put yourself in a tough spot.

Are you sure there is no bonus with this job? Just because they don’t mention it in the offer letter doesn’t mean you are ineligible for a discretionary bonus. 

Anyway, if there is no bonus, would you reject the offer? If not, then you’re not really being paid less than you should be.

“Visit the Water Cooler forum on Analyst Forum. It is the best forum.”
- Everyone

Sweep the Leg wrote:

tl;dr - Never give HR a comp number you won’t be happy getting. You put yourself in a tough spot.

I have had some insanely frustrating merry go round exchanges with HR where they insisted on a prior comp number.  They made that illegal now in MA which has really streamlined things.

#FreeCVM #FreeTurd #2007-2017

I am master negotiator!

It’s very easy when you can bring tremendous value. I was regularly getting 10-15% raises each year back when I was still an “employee”.

If you bring little value, then you have nothing to negotiate. 

In your situation, its very easy to say your total compensation expectation is higher, then the offer and therefore you need a higher base since there is no bonuses.