Wall Street Is Offering 8-Figure Pay Packages to Woo Top Talent

The trading desk was just embarking on a second banner year when senior executives started defecting to the likes of Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and Millennium Management. By this fall, many of the team’s heaviest hitters had gone.

The setting wasn’t some struggling investment bank. It was the equity derivatives desk inside the mighty JPMorgan Chase & Co. -- one of many pockets of employee turnover that have erupted there in recent months, keeping the company’s recruiters busy. Pan out, and it’s part of a trend sweeping across Manhattan’s financial industry.

Signs of a surge in Wall Street job-hopping are emerging everywhere: An independent recruiter said he’s never seen so many eight-figure hiring packages. A career coach said his banker clients aren’t basing decisions solely on money -- they’re fed up with working so much they can’t even date. An industry veteran said moves are becoming so common that some people left behind are anxious: Are they making a mistake by staying?

The trend coincides with the easing of a pandemic that bottled up job changes and prompted many in the industry to question whether they want to resume old commutes, or even stay in the same city. Now, rival firms are dangling money or, in some cases, more flexible lifestyles to lure talent and capitalize on the trading and dealmaking boom. There’s also more competition for women and members of minority groups after virtually every major firm promised to improve diversity in the wake of last year’s racial equity protests.

While numbers are hard to come by, JPMorgan is by no means alone. What’s notable is that such a profitable, marquee name isn’t immune to the burst of circular poaching. Departure rates in many of JPMorgan’s businesses are up at least a few percentage points from pre-pandemic levels, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. That translates to thousands of seats to fill, which then adds to yet more turnover at other banks -- and so on.