Average Bonus of US$201,500


In this particular industry, the top 5 firms are giving an average year-end bonus of US$201,500 for each employee this year. This is about S$290k.

Yes, you heard it right. These lucky workers are each getting an average cash payout this Christmas amounting to what most people here in Singapore earn in 5 years or longer.

What most of us earn in 1 full year is just one-fifth of what these people get for Christmas alone.

This only happens in the wonderful world of investment banking.

As reported widely, including in Straits Times and in Bloomberg (which compiled the data), the 186,000 employees working at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns will be getting a combined total of US$38 billion at year end.

This is still US$2 billion more than last year, despite the subprime crisis and stock market woes largely attributed to the “smart” financial engineering done at Wall Street.

As these 5 firms all have offices in Singapore, don’t be surprised if your friend tells you he just bought a Ferrari and maybe even a district 10 penthouse thanks to his company’s holiday present.

This is also why I encourage top students to aim to be an investment banker. See this post too.

Career advice for students: If you want to save lives – a popular (stock) ambition among top students – why be a doctor when you can build hospitals? 🙂

So, parents, please tell your kids not to give such stock responses.

At least be a little creative – “I wanna save lives, so I’ll accumulate millions working as an investment banker, and retire in my forties to build hospitals and hire the best doctors.” 🙂


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  1. Where is this data coming from. From the comprehensive information that I know, not everyone is getting big bonuses. There are some that are even getting zero or are losing their jobs because of the credit crunch. It’s not a rosy picture in IB. The rumors overdid it.

  2. Hi. Need to ask the experience ones here. In a time like this, where the world is under recession, would it be a good choice to study finance? Would the economy be good in 3 to 4 years time. I’m thinking of switching from life sciences to finance related subjects. Don’t really think that my calibre could qualify for investment banker..just wanna land in a banking job.

  3. Jeff, I presume you are an undergrad. Good that you realise life sciences won’t take you far (it’s way overhyped during the Philip Yeo era).
    That said, I would also advise you to pick up ‘cross industry’ skills by taking courses like marketing in addition to doing finance subjects, just to hedge against the ever changing financial landscape.

  4. Hi advice, I hope I’m not too late in changing my course of studies now. I’m now in ns and would be entering bio sci soon in August. I’m hoping to get a place in NUS biz admin to start with, however, it would really be hard for me to switch field as I have mentioned. I might at the end be in SIM if I could not get any place in biz courses in either NUS or NTU. I have been rejected twice by NUS for biz admin..really depressed. You are very right to say that life sci was overhyped during my time, whereby only top students could get in. I got in with a 10 pts, and as far as I know, I’m like the bottom few who managed to secure a place in bio sci in poly with a pt of 10. lol..

    My friend took electrical electronics engineering..and too..he was asking me if he has been in the wrong course. Is it true that engineering is a dying market? Would like to hear from you.


  5. You can definitely earn a decent living working as an engineering professional. As for life science professionals, I’m not sure as this industry is just too new, but it sure is overrated based on my personal observations (pity those smart students who are on this path).
    Given that Singapore is moving away from manufacturing and into services – financial, tourism, hospitality, sales – I would certainly do a services-related course if I were still a student.
    That said, Singapore also supports some high tech industries – IT, electronics, etc. People with domain knowledge and relevant training are needed in areas like project management, operations, support and even sales and marketing.

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