Asset Manager Salary: Benchmarking Pay in Asset Management (2024)

Most asset managers would agree that determining appropriate compensation is challenging, with pay varying widely across firms, asset classes, experience levels, and geographies.

This article will provide clarity on typical asset manager salaries, benchmarking pay across key dimensions to set appropriate expectations.

You'll see typical pay ranges for large institutions vs boutiques, equity vs fixed income strategies, entry level to senior roles, major financial hubs globally, and projections for how compensation could evolve given industry trends towards passive investing and increasing barriers to entry.

Introduction to Asset Manager Salaries

Asset managers are professionals responsible for making investment decisions and managing investment portfolios on behalf of clients. Their compensation is influenced by several key factors:

Defining an Asset Manager

An asset manager is a finance professional who manages investments in different asset classes like stocks, bonds, real estate, or alternative investments. Their primary responsibilities include:

  • Developing investment strategies aligned with client goals
  • Conducting research to identify investment opportunities
  • Executing trades to buy and sell securities
  • Monitoring portfolio performance and risk metrics
  • Preparing reports on portfolio holdings and returns for clients
  • Business development activities like client acquisition and retention

In essence, asset managers use their expertise to grow the value of portfolios entrusted to them by clients.

Typical Asset Manager Responsibilities

The typical day-to-day responsibilities of an asset manager include:

  • Analyzing financial data and economic trends to inform investment decisions
  • Meeting with current clients to discuss portfolio performance and objectives
  • Researching potential investments through financial statements, industry data, site visits, management interviews, etc.
  • Constructing asset allocation models and investment vehicles matching a client's risk tolerance
  • Executing securities trades to rebalance portfolios
  • Preparing monthly/quarterly reports of returns and holdings
  • Attending conferences and networking events to acquire new client accounts

The role encompasses elements of financial analysis, strategic planning, client service, and relationship management. Performance is measured by the risk-adjusted returns generated for clients.

Asset Manager Pay by Firm Type

Large Financial Institutions

Asset managers at large banks, insurance companies, and other major financial institutions typically have lower base salaries compared to boutique firms, but have greater bonus potential tied to individual and firm performance targets.

At large institutions, base salaries for asset managers often range from $80,000 to $150,000, with bonuses making up a significant portion of overall compensation. Bonuses at major firms are heavily weighted towards assets under management, investment performance benchmarks, and sales targets. Top performers can earn total compensation packages of $300,000 or more when bonuses are factored in.

However, the tradeoff is that these bonus structures carry higher performance risk. In challenging economic climates or periods of underperformance, bonuses can be reduced substantially or withheld altogether.

Boutique Investment Firms

Boutique firms focused on specific asset classes or investment strategies tend to pay asset managers primarily through base salary rather than variable bonus structures. Salaries at boutique firms typically range from $120,000 to $250,000.

Without the same revenue streams from managing massive pools of assets, boutiques weigh compensation towards retaining top talent rather than tying pay to benchmarks. Bonuses, if offered, are modest and based on the overall profitability of the firm rather than individual book performance.

The advantage for asset managers is a higher degree of stability and certainty around their compensation. But the earning potential may be lower over the long run compared to large institutions with incentive-based bonus structures during bull markets and peak performance periods.

Compensation by Asset Class and Strategy

Asset managers handling different asset classes and investment strategies can expect variation in compensation levels. This is driven by the relative complexity, risk, and performance expectations associated with each asset type.

Equity Fund Managers

Equity fund managers, investing primarily in stocks, have the highest earnings potential in asset management. However, their compensation also carries greater performance-based risk.

  • Equity investments are more volatile than fixed income, allowing for higher upside but also larger losses. Equity fund managers' bonuses are tied to beating their respective benchmark index.
  • Top-performing equity managers at large asset managers or hedge funds can earn $10-30 million or more per year. However, they risk much larger reductions in bonus pay if they underperform.
  • Compensation is correlated with assets under management (AUM). An equity fund manager overseeing $10 billion in assets earns vastly more than one managing just $100 million.

Fixed Income Fund Managers

Professionals managing fixed income assets like government and corporate bonds operate with less performance-based risk in their compensation structures. However, they also have reduced earnings upside compared to equity fund managers.

  • Fixed income returns tend to be lower but more stable than equities. Thus, fixed income fund managers have lower performance targets to beat.
  • Average fixed income portfolio managers earn base salaries of $150-250K, with bonuses of around 50% of base pay for average performance.
  • Top fixed income managers may earn up to $750K-$1 million or more annually if they consistently outperform fixed income benchmarks. But their bonus pay is less sensitive to market volatility than equity managers.

In summary, asset class and strategy plays a key role in determining pay levels and compensation model risk in asset management. Equity investing offers higher earnings potential but greater variability, while fixed income provides more stable baseline pay with less upside.


Experience and Qualifications

More experienced asset managers with credentials like the CFA generally earn higher salaries and bonuses.

Entry-Level salaries

New asset managers with 0-2 years of experience typically start with base salaries averaging between $65,000 and $85,000. Additional compensation like bonuses can increase total earnings, but are generally modest at this career stage.

Key factors determining entry-level asset manager pay include:

  • Education level and field of study
  • Internship experience
  • Specific role and firm size/type

Those with finance-related degrees from top universities tend to earn towards the higher end of the range. Experience from finance internships also commands better offers. Roles in investment banking, equity research, or at large asset management firms also pay better than more junior positions at smaller companies.

Overall, $75,000 serves as a reasonable median starting base salary expectation for an entry-level asset manager role right out of university.

Mid-Career Salaries

Asset managers with 5-10 years of experience demonstrate deeper investment expertise and take on more responsibility managing assets, teams, and client relationships. Their specialized contributions warrant significantly higher compensation.

Typical mid-career asset managers earn total compensation between $150,000 and $250,000, encompassing:

  • Base salaries averaging approximately $125,000
  • Bonuses ranging from 20-100% of base salaries
  • Other incentives like profit sharing

Salaries in this range represent the point where asset managers hit their peak earning potential before salaries start to plateau, except for those rising to senior leadership roles.

Mid-career pay varies according to:

  • Firm size - Boutiques pay less, mega funds pay more
  • Role/team leadership responsibility
  • Investment vehicle focus (e.g. equities, fixed income)
  • Individual and firm investment performance
  • Client assets under management

Overall, a mid-career asset manager with 5-8 years of experience managing $500 million in assets can expect to earn around $225,000 total compensation.

Geographic Differences

Salaries also range based on cost of living and concentration of financial services jobs across different cities globally.

New York City

New York City and the surrounding region supports higher pay for asset managers due to:

  • High concentration of financial services companies and asset management firms located in the city
  • Very high cost of living compared to other regions
  • Strong competition for top talent among the numerous major asset managers headquartered in NYC

To attract and retain skilled asset management professionals, salaries tend to be 15-20% higher on average than other big US cities. According to Glassdoor data, the average base pay for an Asset Manager in New York City is $115,000. With bonuses and equity, total compensation can reach over $200,000 at the senior level.

Asia-Pacific Region

Major Asian financial hubs like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Sydney have seen asset management salaries rise sharply in recent years. Reasons include:

  • Strong economic expansion in the region driving demand for asset management services
  • Government incentives to establish local fund management industry hubs
  • High costs of living in these global cities

For example, a Fund Manager in Singapore can expect to earn around S$150,000 on average, which equates to roughly US$112,000. Senior Portfolio Managers in Hong Kong frequently earn HK$1.5 million or more per year (around US$200,000).

To stay competitive with other major Asian cities and attract global expertise, financial centers like Shanghai, Tokyo, and Mumbai have also increased asset management pay. Though salaries are still generally 10-15% lower than Hong Kong or Singapore.

Future Outlook for Compensation

Asset management compensation is likely to face evolving pressures in the coming years. As passive investing continues to gain market share over active strategies, fee compression could weigh on bonus pools and profit margins at traditional asset management firms. However, the shift towards quantitative strategies and factor-based investing may support wage growth for managers with specialized skillsets.

Impact of Passive Investing Growth

The continued rise of low-cost index funds and ETFs is expected to put downward pressure on fees and margins for active asset managers. As more assets flow into passive vehicles, active managers will likely struggle to maintain historical compensation levels derived from charging higher fees on assets under management (AUM). Firms may be forced to rethink bonus structures and shift towards more performance-based incentives tied to alpha generation.

While the passive investing boom creates headwinds for fees and bonuses, it also opens opportunities. Managers focused on specialized areas like ESG, smart beta, and liquid alternatives may sustain higher fees. Firms that pivot successfully to rules-based smart beta and systematic factor investing may also support higher compensation.

Increasing Barrier to Entry

The shift towards quant-based asset management and factor investing strategies is likely to raise the barriers to entry for new portfolio managers. Demand is growing for data scientists, programmers, and technologists to develop systematic trading models and customized factor exposures. Portfolio managers will need specialized skills in areas like statistical arbitrage, machine learning, and alternative data analysis to thrive.

With a higher bar of required expertise, the flow of new talent into the active management field could slow. The restricted talent pipeline could give wage leverage to qualified managers that obtain scarce skillsets - especially tech-fluent managers that can bridge the gap between modern quant approaches and fundamental analysis. Specialized credentials like the CAIA and FRM may also become de facto requirements for advancement, limiting the pool of eligible candidates.

Key Takeaways

Wide Pay Spectrum

There is significant variability in compensation for asset management roles based on multiple factors. These include:

  • Role and responsibilities: Portfolio managers earn significantly more than analysts and associates. Chief investment officers (CIOs) can earn the highest salaries.
  • Experience and performance: More experienced managers with a proven track record of strong returns command higher pay.
  • Firm type: Hedge funds and private equity firms pay more than mutual funds and pensions.
  • Firm size: Larger firms pay more than smaller ones.
  • Location: Major global financial hubs like New York and London have higher salaries.

This wide spectrum emphasizes the importance of benchmarking pay accurately based on these criteria.

Rising Importance of Niche Expertise

There are certain specialized skills that can boost career earnings potential in asset management:

  • Alternative investments: Expertise in alternative assets like private equity, venture capital, and hedge funds is increasingly valuable.
  • Data analytics: Asset managers with advanced data analysis skills to translate insights into investment decisions are in high demand.

As asset allocation shifts more towards alternatives and technology transforms the landscape, developing expertise in these areas early on can pay dividends in the long run.

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Asset Manager Salary: Benchmarking Pay in Asset Management (2024)


Asset Manager Salary: Benchmarking Pay in Asset Management? ›

How much does an Asset Management Manager make in New Jersey? The average Asset Management Manager salary in New Jersey is $138,297 as of April 24, 2024, but the range typically falls between $111,107 and $172,834.

How well does asset management pay? ›

At mid-senior level, an asset manager can earn £52,000 to £80,000 depending on location and experience. As a graduate moving up the ladder, you can achieve mid or senior roles faster with qualifications such as CFA, CTP or CPA. Learn about professional asset and investment management certifications.

What is the highest salary in asset management? ›

Asset Manager salary in India ranges between ₹ 2.3 Lakhs to ₹ 16.0 Lakhs with an average annual salary of ₹ 6.6 Lakhs. Salary estimates are based on 1.2k latest salaries received from Asset Managers.

How much do asset managers get? ›

Asset Manager Salary in Los Angeles, CA
Annual SalaryHourly Wage
Top Earners$145,463$70
75th Percentile$117,400$56
25th Percentile$80,300$39

How do asset managers make money? ›

The standard fee for asset managers is 1% of whatever is being invested. Some asset management funds also make money through a performance fee, similar to a bonus. Performance fees are setup so asset managers are rewarded with a bonus payout when growing the fund to a certain target threshold.

How are Asset Managers compensated? ›

Key Takeaways

Most mutual fund managers get a base salary each year, plus other forms of compensation that bring them well beyond that. Compensation comes from a base salary, fulcrum fees, deferred compensation plans, equity and stock options, performance bonuses for the company and teams, and nonmonetary benefits.

How prestigious is asset management? ›

Although it may not have quite the cachet of investment banking, asset management is still one of the most prestigious and desirable areas in finance.

Is there a lot of money in asset management? ›

A reputable asset manager with a lot of assets under management (AUM) has the potential to make several hundred thousand dollars per year.

What is the asset management hierarchy? ›

An asset hierarchy is essential for maintenance teams to use because it's a way of organizing your assets so that you can identify and prioritize maintenance tasks, replacement parts, preventive maintenance, corrective maintenance, and other steps needed to keep an asset in good working condition.

What company is the largest asset manager? ›

BlackRock, Inc. is an American multinational investment company. It is the world's largest asset manager, with $10 trillion in assets under management as of December 31, 2023. Headquartered in New York City, BlackRock has 78 offices in 38 countries, and clients in 100 countries.

Is it hard to become an asset manager? ›

To become an asset manager, you need a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, or a relevant field. Experience is crucial for finding a job, so while you are in school, you should intern at an investment bank or financial institution.

What is the average age of asset managers? ›

The average age of asset managers is 40+ years years old, representing 68% of the asset manager population.

What is the average asset manager fee? ›

‍Advisor (Management) Fees

The industry typically refers to this as an investment management fee and averages between 1-2% of assets (i.e. A $100,000 investment could cost you between $1,000 - $2,000 annually).

What do asset managers do all day? ›

What Does an Asset Manager Do? An asset manager is responsible for creating a client's portfolio, overseeing it from day to day, making changes to it as needed, and communicating regularly with the client about those changes.

Do asset managers make commission? ›

The fee structure can vary from firm to firm, but an annual fee of one to two percent of the total value of assets managed is common. In other words, the bigger the client, the higher your fee. In some financial advisor positions, you may work off of commision. However, this is uncommon in the asset manager role.

Is an asset manager a good job? ›

For those who value stability and a good work/life balance but still want substantial compensation, asset management could be the perfect fit. However, the field is still quite competitive and intellectually demanding, so a degree and additional professional qualifications are a must.

Is asset management a good career? ›

For those who value stability and a good work/life balance but still want substantial compensation, asset management could be the perfect fit. However, the field is still quite competitive and intellectually demanding, so a degree and additional professional qualifications are a must.

Is it hard to be an asset manager? ›

There are some aspects of asset management that are reasonably straightforward, although a fair amount of work at times, such keeping track of assets. Other aspects are inherently difficult, in particular supporting the use or reuse of assets.

What GPA do you need for asset management? ›

A GPA or 3.5 or better is ideal, but make sure you have a minimum of a 3.0 if you want to get past most resume screens. Q: What is the best type of internship to get? Asset management or hedge fund internships are ideal, as long as they are front office internships.


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