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The 2021 Investment Banking Salary Report


There are financial centres across the globe, but which is the best choice for you? This report contrasts expected salaries and general working environments of seven global finance centres. The covered areas are: the United Kingdom, the United States, Frankfurt, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Dubai, and Singapore. Each section will include: (1) the expected salary ranges for front office roles of varying degrees of seniority, (2) the working environment in each country, such as benefits and holidays, and (3) an analysis on expected salary trends for 2021 and beyond.


Firstly, for each country, IB Insider has compiled a range of different sources on salaries across the industry and summarised them into a single table for your convenience. These sources range from reports released by recruitment firms to verified salary surveys, and will be cited in the references section. Within each table, salaries are denoted in local currency, and then in US dollars (USD$), Euros, and Pounds, rounded up to the nearest thousand. Where information on salary bonuses is available, it is denoted; otherwise, information on bonuses is omitted.

Secondly, the correlation between economic growth and the health of the financial sector means that growth projections can be used as a proxy for analysing the direction of investment banking salaries. Lower interest rates are associated with economic growth and a vibrant economy because they open the door for capital projects and investment opportunities, encouraging consumer and business spending. The financial sector benefits from its central role in such activities, as well as from the fact that it generates a good portion of its revenue from loans and mortgages, products that gain value in an environment where interest rates drop. More directly, performance bonuses tend to be tied to your company’s profit margins and your own performance. 

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is the world’s global financial centre, being home to more bank head offices than any other place in the world and the European headquarters of 40% of the world’s top companies.

Salary £
Salary $ (USD)
Salary €
Bonus %
48K – 65K
65K – 89K
53K – 72K
25 – 100
75K – 120K
102K – 164K
83K – 133K
25 – 120
130K – 165K
178K – 225K
145K – 184K
40 – 150
150K – 250K
205K – 342K
167K – 279K
50 – 150
250K – 550K
342K -753K
279K – 614K
50 – 180

Individuals are taxed by a progressive income system, where salaries between £12,500 and £50,000 are taxed at 20%, salaries between £50,000 to £150,000 at 40%, and anything above £150,000 at 45%. 

Under UK law, workers who work a 5-day week must receive at least 28 days paid annual leave a year, the rough equivalent of 5.6 weeks of holiday. Employees are not entitled to paid leave on bank holidays; this is at the employer’s discretion. The number of bank holidays varies from year to year; 2021 will have seven, and 2022 will have ten. For health insurance, UK residents on valid work passes are covered by the UK’s National Health Service after paying a one-time NHS surcharge upon their visa application. 


In the short term, salaries in the financial sector are likely to stagnate. The vast majority of the UK’s Gross Domestic Product is supported by the services sector, which has been hit especially hard by multiple national lockdowns over 2020, and the UK economy is not expected to return to the size it was at the end of 2019 until early 2023. Banks are also likely to enact pay freezes, following the lead of firms such as Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan.

However, despite Brexit uncertainty, the UK remains Europe’s premier financial service hub, and investment banking salaries are likely to see increases in the long term. Warnings of a mass exodus of finance jobs should the UK leave the EU were premature; Financial Times research has shown that international banks have maintained most of their staff since the Brexit vote, and big asset managers have continued hiring in the UK capital. In addition, the regulatory consultancy Bovill found that more than a thousand banks, asset managers, payments companies and insurers in the European Union planned to open offices in post-Brexit Britain so that they could continue serving UK clients. 

Also, the Covid-19 pandemic is turning into a global recession – probably the biggest drop in economic activity since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The latest forecasts put UK and US GDP both down by about 10% in Q2 2020 (40% on an annualised basis).

United States

New York is one of the leading financial and cultural centres of the world, and the largest centre for trading in public equity and debt capital markets, driven in part by the size and financial development of the U.S. economy.

Salary $ (USD)
Salary £
Salary €
Bonus %
85K – 100K
62K – 73K
69K – 81K
45 -100
135K – 190K
98K – 138K
110K – 155K
65 – 120
175K – 240K
127K – 175K
142K – 195K
40 – 100
250K – 330K
182K – 241K
204K- 269K
50 – 170
400K – 550K
292K – 402K
326K – 449K
35 – 400

The US currently has seven federal income tax brackets, with the USD$85,526 bracket being subject to a 24% tax rate for 2020, and the highest bracket being a tax rate of 37% on an income of USD$518,401 and above.

Unlike other countries, employees in the US are not entitled to paid annual leave under federal laws. Thus, the amount of annual leave you can expect varies across individual employers, although most firms offer competitive annual leave, healthcare and welfare programmes.

In the short term, US banks will continue to contend with a lower for longer interest rate environment and lower loan demand, which will pressure top line revenues, especially in the first half of 2021. Salaries are likely to stagnate, specially bonuses, with regards to which the US boasts the largest range. A successful and efficient Covid-19 vaccine distribution could lead to a general pick up in economic activity, likely in the latter half of 2021, which could spur on modest loan growth and be a positive for revenues and earnings performance.

Long term salary trends are more optimistic; the prime position of the US financial sector is not under significant threat by its global counterparts. The US Bureau of Labour Statistics projects that jobs in the securities, commodities and financial services category will grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand for investment banking and retirement services is also likely to create employment growth, inflating salaries and contributing to bonuses.


Frankfurt is the home of the European Central Bank, and has the highest concentration of banks in Europe, making it a strong contender for the financial capital of the Eurozone.

Salary €
Salary $ (USD)
Salary £
Bonus %
60K – 105K
73K – 128K
53K – 94K
17.5 – 105
100K – 170K
122K – 208K
89K – 152K
25 – 120
145K – 200K
177K – 244K
129K – 179K
35 – 135
150K – 270K
183K – 330K
134K – 241K
45 – 145
250K – 400K
306K -489K
223K – 368K
50 – 170

There are five income tax brackets, with the lowest being a 15% tax rate for salaries between €25,000 and €40,000, and the highest being 38% on salaries above €200,000.

In Germany, employees are entitled to a minimum of 20 days of paid leave per year, based on a five-day working week, or 25 days based on a six-day working week. In practice, employers tend to give more holidays, with an annual leave of between 27 and 30 days excluding public holidays being very common. Employees that have worked for longer than four weeks will receive six weeks of statutory sick pay.

Foreigners working in Germany are entitled to the same state-run healthcare as German nationals once they register with the German authorities, have a German social insurance number, are making national insurance contributions, and register with a health insurance fund.

The Brexit debacle has highlighted the need for the EU to create a known capital and financial services market that is independent of London. Frankfurt has attracted the majority of the large international banks looking for a post-Brexit hub in continental Europe, and will likely see a further influx of banking jobs over the next few years. As the European Commission attempts to turn the EU’s smaller financial capitals into a world-class system, one can expect a plethora of politics from Brussels aimed at helping the financial sector thrive. Thus, banking prospects look bright, and salaries will likely see long-term increases as Frankfurt continues to make a niche for itself in a post-Brexit world.


Shanghai is the largest and most cosmopolitan city in China, with a vibrant social atmosphere and a welcoming expat community.

Salary ¥ (RMB)
Salary $ (USD)
Salary £
Salary €
330K – 480K
50K – 74K
37K – 54K
41K – 60K
500K – 725K
77K – 112K
56K – 81K
63K – 91K
600K – 1.5M
92K – 231K
67K – 169K
75K – 189K
1M – 2M
154K – 309K
112K – 225K
126K – 252K

Individuals are taxed on a progressive income tax system, where salaries between ¥300,000 and ¥420,000 are taxed at 25%, at a rate of increase of 5% for the next few brackets until a cap of 45% for salaries over ¥960,000. Deductions and allowances are available, and include fixed monthly deductions and personal basic contributions to schemes such as pensions and medical insurance.

In China, an employee who has worked continuously for more than 12 months is entitled to paid annual leave determined by their cumulative working years. Between one to ten years working time yields five days of paid annual leave, between ten to twenty years yields ten days, and twenty years or more yields 15 days. On top of this, employees are entitled to eleven public holidays. Under national law, an employee suffering from illness or non-work-related injuries is entitled to a sick-leave period ranging from 3 to 24 months. In Shanghai, this depends on the number of years the employee has worked for an employer.

Financial sector salaries in Shanghai are likely to increase in the long term, as China remains fixated on Shanghai’s development into an international financial sector. Banking professionals in China are likely to observe a salary increase of approximately 11% every 13 months. The national average annual increment for all professions combined is 9% granted to employees every 15 months. The Chinese government issued reform guidelines for Shanghai on 14 February 2020 that have included steps to encourage the participation of foreign investors, increase the use of offshore RMB, and streamlining capital account convertibility.

Additionally, Shanghai is integral to transforming the Yangtze River Delta into a hub of frontier technology development, through its financing for domestic technology innovation, and as fertile grounds for the establishment of FinTech companies. It is thus being positioned to drive the trend of automation and technological advancement forward, an area that forms a cornerstone of China’s national development strategy. Therefore, opportunities in the financial sector are abound, as the country bounces back quickly from the slowdown it experienced as a result of the pandemic, and instability in its closest rival Hong Kong dampens business sentiments there.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong boasts macroeconomic stability, a strategic geographical position, a good healthcare system, and strong infrastructure, all of which have contributed to its robust financial sector.

Salary $ (HKD)
Salary $ (USD)
Salary £
Salary €
400K – 700K
51K – 90K
37K – 66K
42K – 73K
750K – 1.3M
96K – 167K
70K – 122K
79K – 137K
1.3M – 1.8M
167K – 232K
122K – 169K
137K – 189K
1.7M – 2.4M
219K – 309K
160K – 226K
179K – 252K
2M – 2.6M
227K – 335K
188K – 244K
210K – 273K

Hong Kong has one of the lowest individual income tax rate across Asia, with a tax rate of 17% on incomes above HKD$200,000.

The Employment Ordinance (EO) is the main employment legislation in Hong Kong. Foreigners under continuous employment are entitled to paid annual leave depending on the employee’s length of service, starting at seven days after one year of employment up to a maximum of 14 days after nine years of service. The EO also specifies 12 statutory holidays that must be granted to all employees and covers maternity and paternity leave.

Unlike other ex-pat destinations, Hong Kong has a strong public healthcare system that non-permanent residents are eligible for, without the need to pay any extra fees beyond the actual costs of subsidised healthcare. Alternatively, many ex-pats choose to opt for private healthcare as well. Under the EO, Sick leave is accumulated in the form of a sickness allowance at the rate of two paid sick days per month during the first year of employment and four paid sick days each month thereafter.

Financial sector salaries in Hong Kong are likely to stagnate as the country faces rising policy uncertainty, fraying social cohesion, and greater competition from mainland China. S&P Global Ratings states that the balance of risks to Hong Kong’s long-term economic prospects is tilted to the downside. Pessimism about business prospects has been an inevitable outcome of the National Security Law introduced in June 2020, and as China seeks an accelerated financial opening of the mainland, Hong Kong’s role as a conduit has lessened. The comparative advantages that have propelled the Hong Kong economy for decades are at risk of erosion in the long term, and in the short term, this is likely to manifest as a growth slowdown despite a cyclical recovery in 2021.


Singapore is one of the Asia region’s largest and strongest financial hubs, boasting a prime geographical location and a high standard of living.

Salary $ (SGD)
Salary $ (USD)
Salary £
Salary €
80K – 120K
60K – 90K
44K – 66K
49K – 74K
130K – 210K
98K – 160K
72K – 116K
80K – 130K
210K – 310K
160K – 235K
116K – 171K
130K – 191K
320K – 420K
240K – 318K
133K- 232K
198K- 260K
400K – 630K
303K – 477K
221K – 349K
247K – 390K

Foreigners that have worked for 183 days or more preceding a particular year of assessment will be treated as tax residents under Singapore’s progressive tax system. The highest income tax rate is 22% on incomes above SGD$320,000, but analysts can expect to see rates closer to 11.5% and 15% for the salary brackets stipulated above.

#Under Singapore’s Employment Act, the paid annual leave and paid sick leave an employee is entitled to is dependent on how many years of service the employee has performed with the company. For the first year of service, employees are entitled to seven days of leave; for the second year, eight; so on and so forth up to a cap of fourteen days of leave for eight years of service and above. On top of annual leave, employees are also entitled to eleven paid public holidays a year.

A similar system is in place for paid sick leave where service is calculated in months, although the amount of both annual and sick leave you are entitled to may differ depending on your employer’s discretion. Locals are covered by the Singapore government’s national healthcare plan, but there is a high probability that employers will provide foreign work permit holders with health insurance too.

Over the pandemic, a number of large financial institutions in Singapore such as DBS and OCBC have committed to avoid redundancy exercises. The Monetary Authority of Singapore also noted that the financial sector expanded by 5.9% in the first half of 2020, with employment rising by about 1,500. However, the financial sector should still brace itself for job cuts in 2021, and salaries and bonuses are unlikely to be increasing anytime soon. The Singapore economy shrank by 13.2% on a year-on-year basis in the second quarter of 2020, and labour market conditions are expected to become more challenging, with some firms downsizing and others imposing hiring freezes.

In the long term, there has been a noted trend towards technology jobs within the financial sector, as financial institutions speed up on their digitalisation to cater to the extensive shift in customers’ preferences. Something else to note is that there is a general perception that Singapore benefits economically as Hong Kong, its biggest competitor, suffers from political instability. Companies planning to move out of Hong Kong see Singapore as a viable alternative, and the foreign currency deposits at banks operating in Singapore have nearly doubled since last July 2019, a sign that money has started to flow out of Hong Kong and into Singapore.


If you’re looking to work in the UAE, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is a good place to start. The DIFC ranks among the top 10 global financial centres and has a strong reputation, supported by an English common law framework, an independent regulator and an independent judicial system. Being home to more than 2,000 firms from around the globe, it boasts a vibrant business ecosystem, and the DIFC district itself remains a lifestyle destination with modern architecture and a dynamic social atmosphere.

Salary $ (AED)
Salary $ (USD)
Salary £
Salary €
200K – 400K
55K – 110K
40K – 80K
44K – 88K
350K – 620K
95K – 168K
70K – 123K
78K – 138K
480K – 830K
130K – 225K
96K – 165K
107K – 185K
700K – 1.3M
190K – 353K
139K- 259K
155K- 289K
920K – 1.8M
250K – 490K
183K – 358K
205K – 400K

The UAE also does not levy an income tax on individuals, meaning that your gross income will be the same as your net income.

Under UAE Labour Laws, employees are entitled to 30 paid days off annually if their employment period exceeds one year. There are also around ten to fourteen days of official public holidays, the exact dates of which vary with the Islamic calendar, which are counted within your annual leave.

Working in the DIFC also provides you access to multiple employee schemes launched in 2020. Under the DIFC Health Scheme, a group health insurance policy scheme, you can get access to multiple budget-friendly options with no individual underwriting and no claims experience required. There is also the DIFC Employee Workplace Savings Plan (DEWS), a professionally managed contribution savings plan that will allow you to plan your financial future with ease.

While Dubai remains one of the most attractive places to work in the Middle East, the stresses on the financial sector in the country are unlikely to let up, meaning that salaries and bonuses are unlikely to be increasing substantially in the near future.

In 2020, the UAE financial sector suffered from the triple blow of a sharp drop in oil prices, lower economic activity due to the pandemic, and lower interest rates. This will lead to a rise in problem loans and the cost of risk, as well as lower profitability for banks. In particular, the UAE was already suffering from declining real estate prices due to a supply-demand imbalance.

The market conditions are presenting a renewed challenge to not only the real estate sector, but also the banking system, which has an estimated total exposure to the real estate and construction sectors of 26.4% at year-end 2019. Credit losses for UAE banks are likely to be exacerbated by the fact that of the banking sector’s total lending, 20% comprised sectors such as trade, transport, storage, communication, and personal loans for business purposes.


Salary is often the key factor individuals begin their employment search with. Indeed, our research suggests that the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States of America are the top three destinations for salary across all but one of the role levels analysed. However, there are many factors to consider.

This report provides insight into the expected salary ranges, the working environment, and analysis on expected long-term salary trends. However, there are many more factors to consider, such as education, politics, governance, or general cost of living. It is important that you look further and make sure that both the role and the location work best for you as an individual.