eFinancialCareers: Education Pays off on Wall Street but Debt is Climbing

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According to eFinancialCareers’ latest Insights “Back to school: Trade-offs and Pay-offs”, education pays off. But the total amount of debt is climbing, as is the time needed to repay.

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There are a few things that Wall Street professionals can do to improve their employability and salary prospects in challenging market conditions. One is strategic networking. Another is showing your worth by making a difference to the top or bottom line. But not to be ignored is a willingness to go out and get some new qualifications.

Education pays. That's the conclusion of eFinancialCareers Salary and Bonus Survey* on the salary impact of going to college and graduate school. In the financial sector, each leap in educational level is rewarded with increases in base salary. In 2011, survey respondents with a Master's degree earned $28,000 on average more than those with a four-year college degree.

Other credentials are powerful too. Those with a CFA credential command some of the highest salaries in the financial services industry. In 2011, the premium for a CFA holder measured by base salary was $26,000 vs. the industry average. Moreover, CFA holders reported an average base salary increase of 9 percent in 2011, compared to an increase of 6 percent for the overall industry.

US Financial Services Salary Index by education and certification level, 2011

Industry Index                     100
Some College                     65
College Graduate (4-Year)     88
Master's Degree                     112
Doctoral Degree (PhD)     122
Chartered Financial Analyst 122

Source: eFinancialCareers Salary & Bonus Survey

But going back to school or pursuing elite credentials is not a light investment in time or money.

According to eFinancialCareers US Education & Career Choices 2012 Survey**, there is a wide gulf between the student debt of financial services professionals who graduated between 1971 and 1982 and their counterparts who obtained their degree in the last ten years.

Graduating with no debt may be unthinkable today, but it wasn't in the generation that's in the senior ranks of Wall Street now. Our survey shows that two thirds of finance professionals who graduated between 1971 and 1982 left college with zero or nominal debt. For those who graduated in the last 10 years, just over a third were able to escape the debt burden upon graduation.

The total amount of debt is also climbing, as is the time needed to repay. For those respondents who graduated in the last ten years, three in ten were laden with debt between $26,000 and $75,000 when they left college. In comparison, only 6 percent of the older cohorts had this amount of debt. Over eighty percent of the older graduates were able to pay their debt off in less than five years – only half of the younger graduates were able to do so.

It's a calculated risk for future reward. But that's what Wall Street is all about.

Constance Melrose
Managing Director
eFinancialCareers North America


Notes for Editors

*eFinancialCareers Salary & Bonus Survey took place online between January 2 – February 16, 2012, with 2,860 financial markets professionals providing salary information.
** eFinancialCareers US Education & Career Choices 2012 Survey took place online between May 28 to June 1, 2012, with 1,165 financial professionals, based in the US, and registered on eFinancialCareers.com, taking part.

Media Contact
Ann Bourgeois
eFinancialCareers PR Manager

eFinancialCareers, a Dice Holdings, Inc. service, is the leading global career site network for professionals working in the investment banking, asset management and securities industries.

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Anne Bourgeois
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