How to Negotiate Salary When You Get a Job Offer in Financial Services

Have you recently gotten a job offer in the financial services sector? Congratulations! Perhaps you’re in the market for a new position and you’re considering your options. Whatever your situation, knowing when and how to negotiate salary is an important skill to have.  

When an employer extends a job offer to you, they’ll typically present a compensation figure upfront. If you aren’t happy with that number or the benefits package and other details of the offer, you are free to negotiate the salary or the other factors, like benefits.  

Of course, negotiating salary with your employer is easier said than done. For one thing, it’s intimidating. No one likes to have uncomfortable conversations about money and what you’re worth. But the truth is that it’s important to be compensated fairly for what you do for the company—they’re paying you for your skill set and expertise, after all.  

Whether you’ve recently got a job offer in financial services or hope to get one soon, it’s crucial to navigate pay negotiations properly. Read on to find out more about this important skill set.  

Why Should You Negotiate Salary in Financial Services? 

Perhaps the better question is, why shouldn’t you? Studies show that not discussing your salary and benefits before accepting a job can affect your lifelong earning potential in a negative way. Think of a job offer as a two-way street. The company is offering a certain amount, and you’re selling your services at a price. It’s only when those two sides come to a mutual agreement that the deal is closed.  

Some of the best reasons to negotiate your salary in the financial services industry include: 

  • Your first salary can stick with you. The salary at your next job might be based on your first. Wouldn’t you want that number to be as high as possible?  
  • You’ll demonstrate that you know your value. Someone who negotiates their salary comes across as confident and capable. You’re setting the precedent right off the bat that you know your worth and expect to be compensated fairly. You don’t want to enter your new job as a push-over.  
  • You’ll help close the pay gap. Women are far less likely to negotiate their salaries than men are. When you negotiate your pay, you’re helping to close the gender pay gap and get paid what you’re worth. 

Is It Normal to Negotiate a Financial Services Salary?  

Yes. It’s normal to negotiate your salary in almost any job, and the financial services world is no exception. Salary negotiation for financial services jobs is perfectly acceptable—and expected.  

When Should You Negotiate Salary?  

The first rule of thumb: don’t start negotiating your salary until a job offer has been made. It may seem obvious, but many candidates shoot themselves in the foot by talking money before an offer is even extended. That could turn off employers and result in your elimination from consideration.  

After the offer has been extended, it’s wise to ask how long you have to evaluate the offer. Usually, an employer will tell you that they’d like an answer in a few days, or by the end of the week. From there, it’s up to you what you’d like to counter-offer when the time comes.  

Always Do Your Research on Financial Services Salaries

Knowing the going rate for similar financial services jobs in your area is always a smart idea. That way, you have a clear sense of whether you’re being valued fairly with the initial offer, or if you’re being undervalued.  

Use sites like Glassdoor or Payscale to find typical salaries for your position or try asking peers in the field. You can also contact financial services job recruiters—these individuals are experts in the field and will know what a fair salary looks like based on your experience, the job description, geographic area, and other factors.  

How To Answer Salary History Questions

Sometimes, a company will ask you about your salary history. This is their way of deciding on a starting point for their offer. And as discussed above, that’s one of the reasons it’s important to get the salary you deserve in your first job.  

Note that it’s not legal in every state or city for an employer to ask about salary history. Do your research and know what the state and local laws are regarding this practice.  

If you find that it is legal for your potential employer to ask salary history questions, here are some tips for when the question comes up: 

  • Flip the question and ask, “What is the range you typically pay for this position?” 
  • Give a range that you’d be comfortable with, and make the low end your current rate. 
  • Know your numbers about the going rate for similar positions in your area, and don’t be afraid to tell the employer this. Then, state a range that works for you, and note that you’re factoring in perks like bonuses, benefits, and paid time off.  

Tips For Negotiating Salary Like a Pro

What are the best ways to negotiate your salary when it comes down to actually doing it? Here are some tips for negotiating your salary like a pro:  

  • Know your value and show it. We’ve already seen how important it is to know your value. Know how much peers make in similar jobs. And be prepared to show your value to your prospective employer; they won’t necessarily pay you more simply because you ask for it. Prove why you’re worth it. 
  • Have a salary range in mind, as well as an ideal salary. Know what you’d like to make, and come up with a range around that number that is still acceptable. Don’t accept anything that doesn’t fall within your preferred range, or you’re selling yourself short. 
  • Remember that money isn’t everything. Salary itself isn’t the only thing you can negotiate. Benefits, perks like vacation days, stock options, equity, and other factors can be used in your negotiations as well.  
  • Don’t accept the first offer. Negotiation should last longer than one offer. Don’t accept the first thing the employer says; play the game and see what you can get.  
  • Don’t give up too soon. If you’re not happy with the number you’ve reached during negotiations, don’t give up. Until the employer won’t budge another inch, you have the right to keep negotiating.  
  • Work with a professional recruiter. Consider working with a financial services recruitment firm. Recruiters from professional staffing agencies can prepare you for interviews and salary negotiations, and they can find offers that align with your compensation expectations.  

What About Sign-On Bonuses?

 It’s possible that your prospective employer will offer a sign-on bonus, especially if they’re suffering from a talent shortage in the industry or if the company has turnover issues. And while sign-on bonuses are attractive, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. Remember to calculate whether a one-time bonus is really worth it. For example, is a one-time payment of $3,000 worth more than a $3,000 increase in your salary? It depends on you and your circumstances, but it’s something worth thinking about before entering salary negotiations.  

Can New Graduates or Entry-Level Financial Services Professionals Negotiate Pay?

Yes, and they should. Remember: your first salary can follow you throughout your whole career, affecting how much you make even years into the future. Start out on the best footing you can to give yourself a leg up as time goes on.  

If you don’t necessarily have extensive experience in the financial services industry, you can still negotiate for a better salary based on things like your work ethic, teamwork acumen, communication skills, and other “soft” skills. And remember: researching the going rate for the position and what peers are making is crucial for your leverage.  

Can You Negotiate Salary After You’ve Started a New Job?

This depends on the employer. You may be able to negotiate salary after you’ve started the job, but it’s not particularly likely. That’s why it’s always best to enter negotiations strong and remain steadfast until you’ve reached an agreement that you’re comfortable with. Once your starting salary is locked in, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to change it.  

When Can You Skip Salary Negotiations?

Most of the time, it’s not wise to skip salary negotiations. One of the few exceptions is when you’re working with a financial services job recruiter. These individuals will be able to tell you upfront what the employer is offering, and the recruiter will only present you with opportunities that fall within your range.  

Interested in working with a professional staffing firm for your job search? To find your next financial services job, get in touch with one of Workway’s professional recruiters. We’re here to help match talented individuals like yourself with the area’s top employers.