Help! My boss just quit to pursue a new career. AND, sorry for the long-winded story. Please help me think this through. A little bit about myself: I work in equities research, have been an associate analyst for four and a half years with my same MD boss at two middle market/boutique-ish banks. Previously I was an equities research editor for a year at the first bank. I have my MSc. Finance degree, but no levels of the CFA out of the way. I am paid what I believe to be approximately 50-75% of market rate for this position: my bank (and previous bank) simply don’t pay out. Here’s the crux: My bank wants me to take over coverage, dropping some names to make it more manageable (from 23 to 10-ish), without taking either a new title or a bump in salary (they have “frozen” salaries this year, and decreased their bonus payout Y/Y - a different issue entirely since we were profitable as a group in 2008 - partly why my boss left). I’d be making recommendations, publishing research under my own name, calling on clients, traveling with management teams, etc. Everything a senior analyst does, only being paid at maybe 25-50% of market rate (I guess, given that I’d be a “fresh” new analyst). They want me to do this for a “probationary period” of three months, after which they’d review my employment terms. I have to sit down with the Director of Research tomorrow and finalize details, but I don’t think I’m getting any more money now and won’t have a title change immediately. I am going to ask for both, and for a clear-cut set of goals and mandates for the three-month review, but I don’t have high hopes. Why I WOULD do this: I want the experience, I want to take on my own coverage, I want to make my own calls and I want to get paid for it. I’ve been slaving away in this industry for five and a half years for peanuts for pay (not what I expected AT ALL) and I want MY payday. I think I can use the experience to get a better job down the line, hopefully sooner, rather than later. Why I WOULD NOT do this: I don’t want to take on the added risk of sticking my neck out on calls without some kind of reward. I just don’t trust my company to take care of me (financially, that is) down the line - I don’t believe a word they say, and they won’t sign any guarantees/contracts (who would?). I don’t want to bust my ass even more than I already am and then get screwed YET AGAIN by my firm. I have a sinking feeling they see this as a perfect opportunity to take advantage of a hungry (in more ways than one) employee. They could just as easily use me to keep coverage, and then either drop me on my ass, or bring in some new blood (and then drop me on my ass), or just continue to string me along as I work my butt off for them for little pay. My company has consistently screwed me on my bonus every single year (that’s three thus far, Shooter). I took the job at a lower-than-normal base because I was verbally assured by the Managing Director of Equities that I should expect AT LEAST $XX,XXX as a bonus at year end, bringing up my total comp to the bottom-end of market rates, to which I agreed. He was let go after my first year bonus payout (after arguing with management regarding said payouts), negating the verbal assurance, and this year I received only 22% of what I was told should have been the “bottom” of the bonus range three years ago (not much change, but slightly down, from previous years). And only a one-time first-year 5% COL raise. Hence, I don’t take their “word” seriously. I have been slinging my resume and increasing my network as much as possible over the past year and a half, but now I have stepped it up to looking at jobs that aren’t even remotely finance-related. I think ANY other job will pay more than I make now. I was bartending and waiting tables five and a half years ago full-time (only 35 hours a week!) and was pulling in more than I make now between both my day job and the once a week waiting tables job I still have since I need more than peanuts to pay the rent. The REST of the story: I am married, thirties (ouch, it hurts just to type that), with two young girls to take care of. My wife has been a stay-at-home-mother since our oldest was born, nearly five years ago, and we have been OK financially, until this year, when my savings ran out. My original plan was to take an entry-level job in finance, then move up, make some dough and get on with our lives. So far, I’ve scrimped by on peanuts, worked a second job, put myself through a masters program (thanks for nothing, Bank!), and now taken on extra debt as the worst recession in a long time hits the world and the industry I hand-selected. I am seriously thinking of ditching this job (it’d be better if they let me go for unemployment benefit purposes) and getting a job in a restaurant (I am 90% sure I can make more money, potentially significantly more, do less work, have less stress and spend more time with my family) while I continue to schlep my resume around. I am also seriously thinking of moving back to Portland, OR (not a huge financial hub) from Chicago to be closer to all of my family. I have ties there from undergrad and from growing up in the area, and physically being there may give me a better shot a getting a job there. I’ve had a few interviews out there, but haven’t turned anything into an offer, yet. I think I may have to start all over somewhere else in more of an accounting-type role, but given the market, I can’t even get those roles right now since my experience is pretty niche and not really in accounting. Any good suggestions? What should I do about my job? I have to speak with the interim Director of Research tomorrow to hash out the details, but I already have most of the answers, as written above. I may get lucky and be able to get some money out of them now, but I am not too hopeful as my boss left trying to get a higher base to incentivize him to stay, and was flatly denied anything he asked for at every level. I’m going to ask for money and a title now, but expect to be denied both. That makes me want to quit right now. Should I quit if I can’t get more money? Should I stay until I can find a different job? Should I hold blind faith and trust they’ll take care of me down the road if I do a good job? Should I tell them that I want to keep my old job since I’m not getting paid for the new one (and get them to dismiss me, I guess)? Think I have a shot at talking them into a severance since it’s not my fault my previous position is no longer available? Do I have ANY leverage here? What would YOU do? Sorry for the long post, I guess it makes up for never posting.
I say: 1) take the job but under the condition that you will get a promotion, raise and bonuses etc when and if the economy comes around - put a timeline on this e.g. another 6 months. 2) it is imperative that the Mrs try and get back in the workforce. Even without the job question i would recommend that she gets a job.
you have good experience and are in the unfortunate position of being extremely loyal to your employer, which means they continue to shaft you. avg salary for your role is around 80-100k. nil bonus at the moment. my advice is to keep looking for a role+remuneration commensurate with your experience but dont leave yet. I understand how frustrating it must be as I was in that position once. Things wont change where you are (until they feel like they could lose you and you are no longer their b1tch) but theres no point throwing it in to take a further step down. If you can put forward a case detailing why you should at least have an upgrade in title -id be very suprised if they dont offer you that? Especially as its not costing them any more.
needhelp - Thanks for the quick reply. 1) I am so frustrated at working for this company as they haven’t paid me out in the past, and, they have taken the opportunity in this market to trim staff and cut comp across the board, even despite having the best year on record in 2008 (a luxury of being a private bank). They simply are hard-lined on not increasing salaries, and have taken that line over the past seven years. I am sure that I cannot trust them at their word. I know they won’t sign a guarantee and I just feel in my gut that they plan on using me and then dumping me without any reward. Yes, I am tempted to take the job - it’s what I wanted to do when I got into this industry, but I damn well better get paid to do it, and I know I can get paid a higher salary doing just about anything else, even given the job market right now. And any other job I’m looking at has much lower hours (40-50 a week would a great improvement). 2) I agree, and it is an issue we have revisited often. She went to school for four years and never completed her degree. Our youngest daughter is only four months old, and we don’t feel comfortable, yet, having my wife go work, while she goes to daycare, eating up most of what she would earn. A night job is an option, but I am often caught at work and may not be able to get home to take the baby on occasion. This is a big reason why we are trying to move to Portland - where family can give us the assist when we need it. Both of my brothers and my sister and their respective significant others and kids all live there, and my parents spend a lot of time there since they only live an hour and a half away. My wife’s parents are also only a 45 minute flight away (her mom flies free), and a three and a half hour drive away. We just don’t have any family in Chicago, and that’s been difficult. We haven’t lived near our respective families for over eight years. There’s just a lot of moving parts to my life. Every day brings more complications. Luckily, a simple thing like money can clear up a lot of the difficulties.
Your MD you transferred firms with took off? Did you ask him - what did he suggest? He has to know they are not giving you what you deserve and I am sure he has some great connections. He sounds like your biggest asset.
djjk1 - Thanks for your response. For clarity - are you thinking $80-100k for the associate’s role (sans bonus) - that’s about what I was thinking. At this point, I’d jump at that for this new position. I don’t need much more than I’m already making, but I need something to get me by. I am glad for the experience, and working for this firm has definitely been a life lesson. I plan on asking for the money up front and for the title. I don’t see why they wouldn’t give the title since they refuse to pay, and it doesn’t cost a thing.
Stick with it man. You obviously cant quit due to family obligations. Take the job and look for better options. You have the experience so you should be paid for it. If your firm doesn’t recognize that then leave, but not without a new job. Goodluck with everything.
Philip.platt - he has been a huge asset and gave me a shot at this originally. I have learned everything I know about the industry from him (and you - analystforum.com, thanks!). He suggested that I take the offer and try to get what I can out of them, doubting that they’d budge on much, and to continue to look for new opportunities while they continue to pay my day-to-day living expenses. He also mentioned that it is huge that they want to take a chance on me in this role - that speaks highly to where I’m at in my career. When he was going back and forth with them he also threw my salary in the mix, trying to boost my base because total comp is below what was originally promised and I have grown in this role and should be paid commensurate with my abilities. He does have a ton of connections and put the word out that I was looking about two months ago, right after our junior associate was let go (firm-wide cuts). He is basically moving on to a freelance consulting gig where it’s feast or famine. He did say that if a deal comes online that he’d take me on then. He said he’d start looking around for companies to work with and that will broaden his net and he might hear something up my alley, then. One can hope.
USFbulls - thanks. Yeah, that’s kind of my final reaction to it - keep the paycheck until I land something else. Having kids sure changes your perspective. I am normally quite optimistic and my first reaction was: “Wow! What a great opportunity! They DO believe in me! I can make something of this!” But, that was tempered with all my doubts and misgivings about my firm and how they are hardlined anti-payout. They say they are entrepreneurial, which sounds nice, but I just don’t believe that I’d end up getting a fair shake.
mcthorp, It is a long post, so I understand who have thought a lot before posting it. Quite frankly, I can not understand how a 4.5 yr equity analyst can make less than a restaurant worker or less than unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefit is $23K/yr max. So are you making less than that? Can’t believe it. It makes sense to take the new job as you will have a new title which you can put on a resume. So if you are hunting for a new job, it gives you more choices.
cfa_mba - thanks. I know I’m underpaid, but I do make more than unemployment benes. I was just hoping to collect some while I look for another job, since I have no interviews lined up at the moment. Spend some quality time with the girls - I feel I’ve missed out on my oldest’s formative toddler years and I’d like to have more time for my new baby (somehow that doesn’t make up for it though). I previously bartended and served tables in a fine dining restaurant and pulled about $60-70k after taxes, tipouts, etc. That equates to about $80-85k pre-tax, which is definitely more than I make all-in today at my day job. I’m pretty sure I could still line up a similar gig these days to tide the time while I wait for the right job to come along. A friend of mine at the time worked at a competing restaurant and was pulling a little over $100k after taxes/etc. That might be over-reaching, but I think I can do better than what my bank pays. It’s tempting - I could feasibly pay down my debts and build a little cushion so that I’d be better ready to take an offer in this market. And have that precious time with the kids.
Man…this is a pretty loaded question. I’ll have to come back to it after I’ve gotten some rest and wake up sober, but if I were you, I’d hang tight. Definitely don’t lose the job and it’s probably not a bad idea for you to take on the extra experience, but make sure you have the ability to play by your own rules. For example, a lot of the time when an analyst launches coverage, he/she has some say in terms of how much time he or she will need to get ramped up. You want to give yourself as much time as possible. On the other hand, if you think that management is just going to tighten the thumbscrews on you, you might have to be careful. Anyway, my point is that taking on new responsibilities is seldom a bad thing, but in your case, you have to worry about a few considerations: (1) that management is going to try to work you to the bone; (2) you are already severely underpaid. Clearly the bank is taking advantage of you in principle, but you have little way to prove that because you have no leverage. They think the ball is in their court because they don’t view you as a threat to leave. Why? Because you’re probably a very loyal employee and you’ve been through multiple years of putting up with crappy pay. Personally, if it were me, I would probably try to do as little as possible and just get by. My belief has always been that if you do not compensate your employees, you will not get good work. But in your case, you might want to do what you can to stack your resume and then move on. You may be surprised though that coverage really doesn’t matter all that much because the bank you work at is very small. Frankly I find it revolting that they pay you so little, but whatever, I hate to be skeptical but it’s probably because they think that’s all you’re worth. Anyway, my hunch right now is that the incremental efforts of launching your own coverage will far exceed the amount of additional kudos you’ll get from future employers. In fact, I’ve been through multiple coverage launches and they all sucked donkey balls. But, if you decline to take up these new responsibilities, what will happen to you? Make sure you consider all the possible outcomes. Maybe I’ll have some suggestions for possible solutions tomorrow, but I did want to highlight the issues at play here before I forgot. Goodnight.
Holy crap, you make less than 80K a year as a frontline analyst in your 30’s? Don’t mean to make you feel bad but my secretary just quit her job to take another admin one at a futures trading firm for about 85K all-in. That being said I am hearing a lot of horror stories of former MDs and VPs interviewing for entry-level jobs paying mid-5 figs so you’re not alone. My advice would be to accept the new position and immediately start interviewing for other jobs. Best case scenario you get picked up at a large bank where starting comp is low 6-figs for junior analysts.
Use your negotiating skills. You have to say IF I do this THEN you do this. Keep the conversation positive. Remember to state things matter of factly. They want you, you want more money. There is clearly middle ground here. Say you will do it if your conditions are met - that might be the market rate and be sure to state it. They don’t want to have to hire someone else when they have you. It is costly and time consuming and you probably will do the job well. Make sure you know what your walk away position is and stick to it. Don’t focus on what they have or haven’t done before. Focus on what you want and what you feel your worth is now. The rest is redundant now. You are earning what you are earning because you didnt negotiate before. You will always be in this position if you don’t learn the basics of negotiating. Start now. You will only be satisfied when you get what you want otherwise you will have a feeling of regret that you didnt negotiate to what you desired. Trust me, I have used this approach moving positions between and within companies and managed to get 20% raises each time. You have an excellent opportunity here for both a promotion and a raise, don’t lose it.
mcthorp - given that your boss has left and they want you to take over coverage, don’t you have some room to negotiate here. Do you have an idea how important it is for the bank to maintain or launch coverage of the names they want to give you. Are there other analysts in your firm who would snap up this opportunity if you play hardball. Surely, if they try and hire somebody from outside they would have to pay a hell lot more.
Mcthorp, This hits pretty close to home. I also work at a second-tier bank in a second-tier (at best) finance city and have been repeatedly given excuses over the years for why my pay stinks relative to my colleagues or relative to the industry despite the fact that they admit my performance is way above average. This year I received the CFA charter and expected that this would be my year. Initially they gave me a promotion, but they took it back soon afterwards due to the crisis and have asked me to hang in there until things turn around. I have already been waiting for awhile, so the prospect of waiting another year or two for a job that I am more than qualified for makes me sick. You have a lot of personal issues with your kids and wife that make it difficult for anyone to give you advice that exactly fits your situation, but in terms of the career, this is my take on it. Despite everything, I guess I am still an optimist. I would recommend that you hang in there and take the job. This bank probably will never reward you, but another one will if you do a good job–therefore insist on the title. And if you go and take a waiter job or something outside the industry just for the money, you could find that all that education and loans you had to deal with were a waste—and that should be an even more gut-wrenching thought than the idea of a few lost years with bad pay. If you can produce even a small body of good work, someone else will pay you for it. I would see it as that you are using them as a platform to get your work out there as much as they are using you for cheap labor. The situation with your kids is tough, but your wife is there for them full time right now, so I would see it as that you are working for two people right now. It is a sacrifice, but making a quick move for some minor salary pick-up doesn’t make sense to me, and I think you’ll be in a weaker position if you try to get back into the industry later.
Don’t leave the industry. It’ll be HARD to get back in. At least you’re building experience in a time that lots of stuff happens. This is the time that you build a resume. I don’t know about pay in the US so cannot help you here but sounds like a pretty good restaurant.
Leaving the industry would be a huge mistake that is assuming you want to stay in the industry. On your resume I think unemployed would look better than server. I would take the added responsibilities, and at the very least don’t back down from the new title. Some firms are notorious for underpaying their staff and the only way to get more out of them is to find a new job and ask them to match the offer. Even though your firm had a good year they probably think the market is tough right now so nobody could leave so they dont have to give you a raise. It sounds like their theory is to only pay a person enough so that they won’t leave, not what there worth is to the company. If they think a person is comfortable and wouldnt leave then why pay them more? For instance, I have a friend that was getting paid peanuts so he left for another company. A year later they called him back to do his old job at a 50% raise. 2 years later they are offering him a nice raise? Why? Because he has left before and they know he will do it again. There are some Companies that if they know they hold all the cards they will screw you on the pay. Unfortunately, unless you go to work at a great place to work for you often have to job hop every 3 years to get the increases in pay that you are looking for. My advice is to keep looking always keep an eye on the job market. Never let a company hold all the cards.
Golden rule: Never leave a job before having another one locked in. Don’t ever break this rule. Suck it up for now and look for another gig. You need to stand up for yourself and make a strong case as to why you need to be paid more. Even if it’s a token increase it’s something. If anything, try to get the title increase, as that will give you an instant resume boost.
Here’s how I would look at it: 1 - Given that you have kids, you have to stay employed. Forget all those interviews you got in Oregon, almost anyone can get interviews, the problem is getting an offer. I know someone who interviewed with UBS/O’Connor in Chicago two month ago, everything went great, and when it came time to commit they said, they no longer have budget for the position ( actually they no longer have budget to even buy a color copier according to the MD). So stay put in the short term at least until you find something concrete. 2 - If you leave now and go work at a restaurant it will be almost impossible for your to break back in, the competition is intense for the few analyst positions remaining, and a lot of qualified individuals are looking. I met a guy with a Ph.D from Princeton who worked 8 years for Barclay’s in SF and was interviewing for an entry level position at a quant hedge fund. 3 - You say "you don’t want to take the risk ". What risk ? You have nothing to risk, you have everything to gain. If things go well, you have great experience in your resume for the future, if not, you were screwed anyway, so nothing to lose. Conclusion: What I would do is to ask for a new title along with the new responsibilities. Don’t press the money issue now, just ask for the title. That will give you some satisfaction and will help strengthen your resume. Then take your chance and run with it, the money will come eventually, just make the best of the opportunity offered to you.