Fixed income pay in London, Paris lags Frankfurt, Milan

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Forget the City of London or Paris: if you work in fixed income sales, Frankfurt or Milan may be the place to be for top pay according to a recent recruiter salary survey.

Recruitment firm Napier Scott, which specializes in debt and credit hires, says pay for salespeople working with vanilla (non-structured) credit products in Frankfurt can be nearly double that of similar salespeople in London. Italian salespeople can earn 70% more.

The discrepancy is most noticeable in tier-one banks like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. Napier Scott says associate directors selling vanilla fixed income products in Frankfurt typically earn total packages of between €132,000 (90,000) and €315,000. In Italy, similar packages range from €124,000 to €271,000. In the UK and Scandinavia they go from €110,000 to a modest €161,000.

Discrepancies continue right up the hierarchy. Managing directors (MDs) selling vanilla credit products in Frankfurt can earn packages valued up to €586,000 according to Napier Scott. MDs in Milan can earn up to €557,000, but their counterparts in London are lucky to receive €491,000.

Napier Scott says the figures were derived from conversations with over 200 salespeople working with vanilla credit products during the course of last year.

Simon Kamal, a senior consultant at the firm, says high pay for German salespeople reflects the size of the German market. 'Germany is Europe's biggest economy and the hardest to cover,' he says. 'Covering the market efficiently requires a very competitive platform with very good people.'

Jürgen Merkel, managing director at search firm MB Consulting in Germany, confirmed that German salespeople working with vanilla credit products can be paid generously. He says top juniors are always paid well, and that high quality senior sales staff are earning more than ever: 'The very top people in Frankfurt can earn €700,000 to €1m. This has gone up 50% in the past two years.'

Giovanna Adriani, an Italian recruitment specialist at Napier Scott, says high pay in Milan is down to an increased focus on the Italian market: 'Italian banks have only recently acquired the status to compete in vanilla credit products, and international banks with vanilla sales teams in Italy have only recently started doing it seriously.'

Big bonuses are relatively new to the Italian market, says Adriani: 'Three of four years ago bonuses in Italy were purely symbolic. Now we have bonuses of London standards.'

Some rival firms are not so sure that Italian salespeople are earning big bucks, however. 'It seems unlikely to me', says one. 'It's a very thin market here.'

French headhunters also cast aspersions on Napier Scott's figures, which show Paris bringing up the rear with maximum bonuses for MDs in vanilla credit sales of €469,000. 'I don't think Paris pays less than Milan or Frankfurt,' says Frédéric Sola, a consultant at the Financial Services Consulting Group. 'In 15 years I have never heard this. Paris, Frankfurt and Milan typically pay the same.'

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