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Old 12.01.2011, 01:24
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Compensation advice (yet another .. ) in Finance for a newbie

Greetings to everyone,

First of all I already feel guilty about posting yet another salary question - turns out I couldn't find any threads specific enough on the forums for a newbie and with my skill set. Also I haven't mustered the courage to ask anyone in person yet about salary advice - the people here seem to be very sensitive and discreet on the topic.

I have a masters in Mathematics & Financial Engineering (top 10 percentile of my class- sorry if it looks like I am bragging - not my intention - want to be as objective as possible) from a top 50 university with a few professional certifications (FRM, CFA Level 1). My skills would be mathematical & statistical modeling,financial engineering (derivatives etc) and intermediate programming skills. Have a year and a half of work experience between my current job and internships in small financial firms mostly working on derivatives pricing, financial modeling and a little bit of programming. Also don't speak any of the 3 local languages.

I was keen on knowing what could be the range of compensation most likely fair for me or for that matter for a person with a similar master's & ~1 year work ex :

1> In a top tier bank in Zurich
2> In a small firm in Zurich
3> Difference in salary between Zurich and Ticino

Hope my question is too much for this forum, but I would be really grateful for any answers/ suggestions.


Cheers

Hankz
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Old 12.01.2011, 11:15
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Re: Compensation advice (yet another .. ) in Finance for a newbie

Chf 1 up to Chf 1mio, depends a little on how much common sense you have
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Old 12.01.2011, 11:21
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Re: Compensation advice (yet another .. ) in Finance for a newbie

There is only one "local" language - Swiss German and in your area not having it won't be too big an issue as most anyone looking to hire a quant will speak English.

Your skillset is in pretty high demand at the moment but the market is still pretty soft over here for new hires. Assuming you found the "right" spot, you should be looking at 140k+ (although these days, it's anybody's guess).

Check out companies like EFGFP and Julius Baer, both of which are big into structured products.

Cannot comment on Ticino.
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Old 12.01.2011, 14:30
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Re: Compensation advice (yet another .. ) in Finance for a newbie

The guy has 1 year work experience, if he dooesn't know now what he is worth or doesn't have a network of professional friends to sound out i think that really says a lot. Having degrees, masters, and beoing very intelligent is great, but that's only one part of the skill set needed in life and the work place in general.

PS for Bobster, congratulations on achieving thanks/groan status, 13 posts in just over 6 months, not bad, 2 per month and you managed a groan and a thanks all in the same day !
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Old 12.01.2011, 15:08
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Re: Compensation advice (yet another .. ) in Finance for a newbie

Masters in Finance - any swiss grad out of university would have a masters degree. We only hire quants with Phd in physics...

CFA level 1... Zurich has probably the highest concentration of CFA charterholders outside of New York city. This also means that you are 18 months years away from full qualification, and maybe another year on top of that from a full charter.

I think you can consider yourself very lucky to get 140k. Bonus is a different matter.
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Old 12.01.2011, 16:29
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Re: Compensation advice (yet another .. ) in Finance for a newbie

Ax: First off, who is "we"? Because unless you are from one of the larger hedge funds, your comment is either nonsense or bullsh!t. There are plenty of folks like this running around with a decent degree, a good skill set, working on their CFA, done their FRM (or CAIA - for what that is worth ) who, back in the day, were regularly getting offers for more than the number I quoted.

Fine, today they might be closer to a buck and a quarter than 140 but don't give me the line about "every Swiss has a Masters and you need to be a rocket scientist to get an offer", that's just not true - because, if it was, this country would not be crawling with Brits, Yanks, Krauts, and Canucks doing their banking jobs.

@Today, I supported you on another post where you were taking a beating, but you should really learn when to say when...
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Old 12.01.2011, 17:00
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Re: Compensation advice (yet another .. ) in Finance for a newbie

My apologies for my comments, perhaps I do not really know what I am talking about, but please allow me to explain:

Masters degree - according to my company's employment procedure, Swiss degree = masters degree. There is no bachelors. I did not agree. But recently there is talk about making the swiss degrees shorter and hand out bachelors, which proves that they do consider their degress as masters degrees.

We do employ a lot of foreigners. Most of them have masters degrees. Those who don't, have some years of experience in a specialised field. We consider work experience to be more important than masters. Thus, English degree with 5 years experience in structured finance is considered better than swiss degree (masters). So in my department of 15 people, there is not a single Swiss person, except the boss.

There are 6 guys sitting in the next office- the quants - they all have Phds. All but one are CFA charterholders. I only know 1 guy's salary, and it is only slightly more than 140k. He has 4 years experience. I can only guess that his bonus is pretty huge. Then again, apparently our fringe benefits are also worth another 10% compared to other companies.

I work for one of the biggest companies in Switzerland.

Again, I apologize if my post is wrong, but as mentioned above I wasn't just saying things without any proper consideration. I did consider the facts, but if they are wrong, then my bad, and I apologise.

Last edited by axman; 12.01.2011 at 17:35. Reason: removed comment about something which I mistakenly thought was directed at me
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Old 12.01.2011, 17:09
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@Today, a forum is a great wealth of knowledge, I can't ever remember anyone posting questions with those skill sets. I know the general census here is to be as quick as possible to reply with some sarcastic reply, or a quick fired "use the search facility" but seriously what's the point?

Given that the guy has less posts than you tells me his posts have a little more quality to them compared to your rabble.
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Old 12.01.2011, 17:40
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Re: Compensation advice (yet another .. ) in Finance for a newbie

Quote:
The guy has 1 year work experience, if he dooesn't know now what he is worth or doesn't have a network of professional friends to sound out i think that really says a lot. Having degrees, masters, and beoing very intelligent is great, but that's only one part of the skill set needed in life and the work place in general.

PS for Bobster, congratulations on achieving thanks/groan status, 13 posts in just over 6 months, not bad, 2 per month and you managed a groan and a thanks all in the same day !
I like to share the love.

But seriously; this is a board to share information. The OP was clear, concise and provided all information required for anyone here to add any relevant information that he or she may have. My view is that your reply did absolutely nothing except potentially dissuade any future browsers from becoming active members.
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Old 12.01.2011, 17:45
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Re: Compensation advice (yet another .. ) in Finance for a newbie

Ax, Thanks for the measured response I don't disagree with anything you say, per se, and there are clearly companies (let me Reassure you) that manage to get well qualified people for not a lot of money. That being said, if you are smart and well qualified these days, you probably will be pulling in more than the numbers quoted and if you settle for less, well, there are other threads discussing that...

As for bonuses, I would guess that you work at UBS / CS where, in many areas, the bonus can take the 140k up substantially (although not as much as many on this forum would have you believe ). Either way, the OP probably has a job waiting for him or her somewhere in this country and really only needs to worry about getting a work permit.

Oh, and btw, the highest per capita locale for CFA charterholders is (or used to be anyway) Canada.
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Old 13.01.2011, 03:30
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Re: Compensation advice (yet another .. ) in Finance for a newbie

Hey again folks .. thanks for your views - really didn't expect much - and did really get some interesting insights from your folks

Quote:
Chf 1 up to Chf 1mio, depends a little on how much common sense you have
Thanks today .. I am a staunt believer of law of the large numbers ... and the probability of me falling in the higher percentile on the common sense scales almost surely converges with a probability of 1 .. so maybe with a bit of luck ... in a couple of years will do the mid way mark atleast .

Quote:
The guy has 1 year work experience, if he dooesn't know now what he is worth or doesn't have a network of professional friends to sound out i think that really says a lot. Having degrees, masters, and beoing very intelligent is great, but that's only one part of the skill set needed in life and the work place in general.
@Today Okay I did say I had 18 months of experience BETWEEN my internships(3) and work ex (work ex being 6 months) - and only the last 6 months in Europe - hence the apprehension and uncertainty. I am quite aware of what I would have had on my plate by now OUTSIDE Europe <read where I have worked and studied before>. Let me elaborate more the reason for my ignorance on the subject - I curretly work in Ticino in a small firm - agree that I haven't networked at all as much as I would have liked - being the only person with the skills set in the firm - hence my professional network being more on the sales side - even though that is *NOT* my role per se. Even within the firm I've tried to get some estimates from colleagues - unfortunately don't get any satisfactory response because of lack of exposure on their part. Again professional networking is hampered by my lack knowledge in Italian just barely manage to understand for now - no offense to anyone but I find people are much much more open and conversant in English in the swiss german part than here . <If I come out as sounding bitter - I apologise .. for I am not - AT ALL - just stating facts>. Ticino is an absolutely lovely place to live - but in professional exposure terms I think its dragging me behind thanks to the lack of networking opportunities etc etc. Hence my inkling to fiddle with the idea of moving to Zurich.

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Masters in Finance - any swiss grad out of university would have a masters degree. We only hire quants with Phd in physics...CFA level 1... Zurich has probably the highest concentration of CFA charterholders outside of New York city. This also means that you are 18 months years away from full qualification, and maybe another year on top of that from a full charter.I think you can consider yourself very lucky to get 140k. Bonus is a different matter.
@Axman Thats something I didn't know @masters degree. Just out of curiousity - would you have a similar opinion about a 5Y combined {bachelors + master }in Mathematics + fin engg + statistics - just to understand how the swiss market prices my education. <I hope against hope after your statement, it isn't considered in the same league as Master of Finance >. As for hiring phd's as Quants - it (being a quant) was an option to me - but since I already did some research much ahead of my peers in quant fin - I took the decision to try out the job scene to see how I really feel about it first - to decide between a quants kinda role Vs structuring etc etc ... if I in the near future go for on the quants side <in that case I just work on my programming> - I do believe that I have the skills of a quant or atleast will have in a year or two Without a PHD and hope the job market does consider candidates with relevant skills rather than just degrees. On the other hand I was and still am very open to a role as a structurer - and then I wouldn't have wanted to wasted 4-5 years studying ,if thats where I land up. I mean I am ambitious by nature on most days ... at the same time am risk averse - hence my decision. My current role by the way is sort of a soft quant <nothing hard core in programming - from the scratch pricing & modeling> - the difficult part + structuring - and being a small firm need to juggle my time between the two - hence looking for something more concrete in possibly structuring / pricing after a while <I expect my <self> learning curve here to loose its convexity in the near future>.


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My apologies for my comments, perhaps I do not really know what I am talking about, but please allow me to explain:Masters degree - according to my company's employment procedure, Swiss degree = masters degree. There is no bachelors. I did not agree. But recently there is talk about making the swiss degrees shorter and hand out bachelors, which proves that they do consider their degress as masters degrees. We do employ a lot of foreigners. Most of them have masters degrees. Those who don't, have some years of experience in a specialised field. We consider work experience to be more important than masters. Thus, English degree with 5 years experience in structured finance is considered better than swiss degree (masters). So in my department of 15 people, there is not a single Swiss person, except the boss.There are 6 guys sitting in the next office- the quants - they all have Phds. All but one are CFA charterholders. I only know 1 guy's salary, and it is only slightly more than 140k. He has 4 years experience. I can only guess that his bonus is pretty huge. Then again, apparently our fringe benefits are also worth another 10% compared to other companies.I work for one of the biggest companies in Switzerland.Again, I apologize if my post is wrong, but as mentioned above I wasn't just saying things without any proper consideration. I did consider the facts, but if they are wrong, then my bad, and I apologise.
140K with a Phd and 4 years work ex ?! Even to me that sounds sort of low <by PHD standards> - are the markets actually that bad <Cause I keep seeing 150 sterling + offers on Wilmott.com for Phd quants> ? Although I have no clue about the bonus - I didn't get any thanks to joining at an inconvenient time in the firms bonus cycle. Also I had mentioned CFA L1 in my initial post - I actually am doing the CQF <Certificate in Quantitative finance for those of you who don't> - didn't expect as many responses - leave alone anyone knowing about this certification - hence substitued it with CFA <btw wudn't do it if I can help it> .

On that note could I pester you/anyone else who'd be kind enough for a counter question <please let me know if its not appropriate if I ask it here or rather start a new thread>
1>Do folks with Mathematics/related masters 1-3 years work ex get hired as quants in Ch ?
2> What would be your opinion on the salary numbers <range> with my skills set and work ex for a structuring role ?


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There is only one "local" language - Swiss German and in your area not having it won't be too big an issue as most anyone looking to hire a quant will speak English.Your skillset is in pretty high demand at the moment but the market is still pretty soft over here for new hires. Assuming you found the "right" spot, you should be looking at 140k+ (although these days, it's anybody's guess).Check out companies like EFGFP and Julius Baer, both of which are big into structured products.Cannot comment on Ticino.
@Ratbert, thanks for opining .. meant 3 local languagues for CH as a whole, brightens me a bit about it not being a problem .

Quote:
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Ax, Thanks for the measured response I don't disagree with anything you say, per se, and there are clearly companies (let me Reassure you) that manage to get well qualified people for not a lot of money. That being said, if you are smart and well qualified these days, you probably will be pulling in more than the numbers quoted and if you settle for less, well, there are other threads discussing that...As for bonuses, I would guess that you work at UBS / CS where, in many areas, the bonus can take the 140k up substantially (although not as much as many on this forum would have you believe ). Either way, the OP probably has a job waiting for him or her somewhere in this country and really only needs to worry about getting a work permit.Oh, and btw, the highest per capita locale for CFA charterholders is (or used to be anyway) Canada.
@Ratbert - I thought I was really well paid until I actually landed here - the expenses for a normal easy going lifestyle lol !! - classic newbie mistake I guess for someone moving here. Makes me think for your first line you quoted lol. Pulling numbers wouldn't be my priority 1 in the short-medium term actually - getting better exposure - and dealing with permit issues in case of job migratoin <am a non EU citizen> would be over and above that.

On that note - I;d fire another question at you folks if you'd be so kind to oblige me yet again - how much do first year analysts <say in trading/structuring> in the big swiss banks can expect to bag - I've heard 6K(beginningg) and I've heard 10K(after 1 y) .. am I close ?

@Country_mouse - I did expect much more than a little bit of sarcasm - doesnt hurt if it is with good intentions


Cheerz

Hankz
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