Various sections of the industry, including hedge funds and investment banks, have a reputation for big pressure and even bigger paychecks. Long hours are often offset by six figure salaries, with performance and signing bonuses to boot.
So what can MBA graduates entering the finance sector expect to earn straight after graduation?
To find out, BusinessBecause analyzed the employment reports from the most recent graduating classes of top business schools from different regions across the globe.
Analyzing five schools each from the US, Europe, and Asia—all of which were ranked among the global top 100 by the Financial Times—the figures revealed the average salaries that top b-school graduates earn in different regions after landing a finance job.
The figures present substantially different results between regions due to several factors, ranging from variations in reporting methods to external factors such as differing living costs and average income levels.
The article does not therefore provide a direct inter-regional salary comparison, however it does provide an insight into the salaries that MBA graduates can earn within different regions across the globe after landing a job in finance.
Here’s what top MBA graduates across the globe are earning in the financial sector.
MBA in finance salary: Top business schools in the US
The US is home to many of the world’s most prestigious financial institutions. The likes of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JP Morgan—the three top financial companies to work for according to b-school students—are headquartered in New York City’s iconic Wall Street.
Students at top business schools often go on to land roles within the sector. Three core areas where they typically find opportunities are investment banking, investment management, and private equity. Other popular areas include consumer finance and venture capital.
US business schools generally provide more granular salary details than other regions. Schools typically provide a breakdown of salaries across different subsections of the industry, while they often do not report an overall average MBA in finance salary.
For example, at Columbia Business School—the world’s best MBA program in 2023 according to the FT—graduates who enter investment banking typically earn $175,000; while for private equity and investment management grads the average MBA salary is around $162,000.
Few students among the most recent graduating class at Stanford Graduate School of Business entered investment banking, however among private equity hires, the average MBA finance salary is more than $202,000. Those entering investment management earn more than $176,000 on average.
Harvard Business School is the birthplace of the MBA program, among its graduates the average salary for those who enter investment banking, private equity, and investment management sits at $175,000.
At Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, students entering investment banking earn slightly lower salaries, averaging at around $168,000. Private equity new hires earn more, at approximately $179,000; while salaries are lower for investment management recruits at around $143,000.
Yale School of Management, another top US business school, saw MBA finance salaries in 2023 amount to $175,000 in investment banking; $150,000 in private equity; and $160,000 in investment management.
These strong MBA finance salaries are a huge draw for graduates in entering the industry, however the vast majority of MBA graduates from these schools also landed bonuses after they graduated.
When it comes to bonuses, schools differ in how they report data as bonuses are not always guaranteed within an employee’s compensation package.
However, finance MBA students in the US can expect strong bonuses after graduation. Among the most recent cohort of Harvard MBA grads entering private equity, for example, 84% received a performance bonus which averaged at $175,000. A further 41% received a signing bonus, which was typically around $30k.
MBA in finance salary: Top business schools in Europe
Europe boasts major finance hubs including London, Paris, and Zurich. The sector therefore attracts large numbers of European MBA graduates every year.
Students looking for opportunities in finance can find job postings with top companies such as Barclays, UBS, and Deutsche Bank. That’s alongside international organizations including the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Enrolling in one of the many leading business schools in Europe can provide access to a wealth of opportunities within the sector that also boast impressive salary prospects.
At INSEAD, a former top-ranked business school that has a campus in France as well as Singapore and the UAE, the average MBA in finance salary for graduates amounts to $121,000.
The UK’s London Business School, which recently ranked second among the top b-schools in Europe, sees graduates who enter the finance sector earn higher average salaries of around $135,000.
Spain’s top-ranked IESE Business School helps graduates earn average MBA finance salaries of approximately $105,000. At HEC Paris, the top-ranked business school in Europe, students entering the sector typically earn around $112,000 straight after graduation.
For MBA graduates entering the financial sector at Oxford Said Business School, another renowned institution based in the UK, salaries average at around $107,000.
Like their US counterparts, students at European business schools often secure signing and performance bonuses alongside their impressive MBA finance salaries. However, there is also variation in the reporting of graduate bonuses among European institutions.
At HEC Paris, performance bonuses average at around $27,000 while IESE graduates earn total bonus packages of around $88,000 overall, including both performance and signing-related compensation.
MBA in finance salary: Top business schools in Asia
Like Europe and the US, there are many top financial institutions operating in Asia that hire business school graduates each year.
Students aiming for careers in the sector can set their sights on landing roles with globally renowned firms such as HSBC, as well as prestigious leaders within the region including Bank of China and OCBC Bank.
Asia is a large and highly varied region boasting countries that are both categorized as currently developing as well as those that are characterized as developed. This means there is large variation between economic performance and average incomes can differ as a result.
In the Hong Kong SAR, for example, a strong currency and high cost of living means that average income levels are higher than in other parts of Asia. Hong Kong also boasts a unique economic situation with low tax rates and free trade.
As such, MBA graduates who enter the financial sector after studying at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Business School earn comparatively high average salaries of around $132,000.
In India, on the other hand, where the average cost of living is much lower than in more developed economies, average salaries are significantly lower.
Students landing roles in finance after graduating from the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, for example, earn around $30,000; while Indian School of Business graduates take home average MBA finance salaries of around $41,000. Grads from Indian Institute of Management Calcutta earn comparatively higher salaries of around $60,000.
In mainland China, the average salary for those MBA students who secure roles within the financial sector at CEIBS, one of the country’s top-ranked business schools, amounts to approximately $69,000.
While salary data fluctuates within Asia, business schools are also less inclined to report in-depth compensation data including the bonuses that students earn after graduation.
Whether you’re aiming to study in Europe, Asia, or the US, enrolling in an MBA will help develop your skills, build your expertise, and enhance your network—all of which can unlock your salary potential after graduation.
For more information on how to launch your career in finance, including free advice from b-school careers experts, download our BusinessBecause Careers Guide: What's Next After Business School?