It is not easy to be a French bank in its country of origin. As US banks build their Paris offices after Brexit, competition for French talent has intensified, and although French banks have increased their wages, they have been overshadowed by recent increases among US competitors.
“The problem with French banks is that they were already paying below the market”, explains a Parisian headhunter. “They raised their wages about two months ago, but then the Americans raised their wages as well, and now they’re late again.”
french newspaper The echoes highlighted the problem last week, noting that French banks have always struggled to hire in New York and that has now been exported to Paris, where some US banks say more than 30 people from big French houses are lining up to join on the spot that by doing so, they can double their remuneration.
Headhunters in Paris say the pay gap between French and US banks is widest in vice-president (VP) level and above. French banks like SocGen now pay salaries of € 160,000, € 170,000 and € 180,000 to the equivalents of vice presidents one, two and three, but US banks offer similar or higher salaries and much higher bonuses .
The gap starts at the analyst level. A few months ago, SocGen and BNP increased the salaries of their first, second and third year investment banking analysts in Paris to €€ 67,000, € 75,000, € 85,000 and €70k, 80k € and 90k € respectively according to the boss of a local headhunter firm. It wasn’t bad – until Goldman Sachs raised its Parisian salaries for junior bankers to the same level to € 85,000, € 105,000 and € 125,000, from € 70,000, € 85,000 and € 110,000 previously. – French banks are chasing a moving target.
The graph below shows the headhunters’ claims regarding the current salary levels of analysts working in the investment banking divisions of banks in Paris. These figures have not been verified by the banks themselves.
Claude Calmon, another Paris-based headhunter, confirms that French banks are around when it comes to compensation, but says they have other methods of attracting people to work for them. “French banks have had to increase their salaries, but the competition is always winning,” he said. “However, a French bank can offer a generalist platform and has a stronger commercial banking activity.”