It used to be the case that if you wanted to make money young, a banking career was your best bet. You preferably wanted to go into a front office job - either sales and trading or M&A - and you preferably wanted to stay there for a minimum six or seven-year period (banking pay doesn't get going until you're four years in).
Nowadays, however, there's a better alternative.
One Apple technologist, with four years' experience at Apple and six years' experience in total, says on Bline that he's amassed $1m in combined Apple stock and restricted stock units (RSUs) during his four-year tenure at the firm. This has been helped along by the fact that Apple's stock has quadrupled since 2019, but it's still pretty impressive, and it doesn't include his salary.
The California-based engineer in question says he's particularly grateful for the healthy state of his brokerage account because he grew up in the Middle East with very little money. "We never had a washing machine, and we had to wash our clothes by hand even in the cold winter," he says. "We had to boil the water for bathing in the winter because we didn't have a water heater."
As various people have been quick to point out, the superior pay on offer in technology firms is one reason banks are struggling to persuade juniors to work long hours, even after their recent salary rises. The Apple engineer's experience seems to bear this out.
By our estimation, and based on this year's increased junior banker salaries and bonuses, a top ranked junior M&A banker going from first year associate to first year vice president could reasonably expect to take home over $1m in cumulative total compensation over a four-year period. However, they would likely work 80-hour weeks in the process.
A developer working in a bank's technology function would be much worse off. Pay figures from recruitment firm Selby Jennings suggest that if the Apple developer had become an engineer on Wall Street instead of in Apple, his cumulative total compensation over a four-year period would have been closer to $650k, salary included.
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