How To Compare Compensation Models Wisely

Don't get stuck in compensation issues or models that are less than you deserve. Find a recruiter that specializes in your industry and gets you the best deal.

As I pondered what to start the 2021 blogs with, I thought about some conversations that I have had over the last month or so regarding compensation issues. I also thought of a specific conversation that recently occurred with Jennifer and a potential bond counsel candidate. Jennifer, as you may know, is my partner that specializes in the bond counsel area and is always having conversations with potential attorneys that are looking to at least “kick the tires.” After a recent conversation, she was told, “You can’t touch my compensation model so there’s no reason for us to continue chatting.” I cannot be any clearer than saying nothing could be further from the truth.

Knowledge Is Power With Compensation Issues

As an individual that is knowledgeable in the recruiting field (thus one who is extremely aware of compensation issues and models across the board), I knew for a fact this particular candidate’s firm compensation pay was on the low level of the scale. However, the fact that I knew that, and this particular candidate did not know that was the gap that needed to be filled. In this circumstance, the person was not open to any further conversation, which is completely understandable as we recruit for opportunistic situations. Although, it made me wonder. Is everybody out there completely unaware of where their firm sits when it comes to compensation? Not that compensation should be the main reason why anybody makes a move; however, with other extenuating factors motivating an individual to contemplate making a move, compensation definitely comes into play in the endgame.

How Do You Find Out Critical Information Regarding Compensation Issues & Models? 

Let us briefly address the compensation issues. A good recruiter, who specializes in a particular area, is an excellent source for you to determine how well or conversely how poorly you are compensated. Only by having conversations will you be able to determine that. Let’s say your base salary is exactly the same at two competing firms, but the bonus structure is different. If you do not have a conversation, how are you going to know that? Going one step further, let’s say that at first glance the payouts are exactly the same at two firms. What you do not know is that at one firm your payout is reduced since you have to pay for sales credits, benefits, T&E, or anything else a firm decides to deduct. Again, if you do not have a conversation, how are you going to know that?

The Key To Information Is A Specialized Recruiter

What I am sharing with you is important for your future in navigating compensation issues. Even though firms at face value look to pay the same, when you delve deeper into the compensation models you will determine how much your true net is going to be. Only by working with a recruiter that specializes in your field will you be able to determine this. Sometimes when receiving compensation models from a firm, you still may not be able to determine exactly what your true bonus will be. It is for this reason that in the first couple years we recommend a guaranteed salary and a minimum bonus to help with the inevitable ramp up. That is so recognizable in our cottage industry.  If a firm is willing to give you some sort of guaranteed bonus, they are showing that they truly appreciate you considering making the move to their firm. They are able to value you today, but more importantly tomorrow too.  Those are the firms you want to consider. Firms that are compensating you now and alleviating your concern about bringing in business on day one. Firms that are giving you the time and opportunity to transfer your clients and develop a bigger clientele over the next three to five years.  These are the firms Jennifer and I represent.


If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs so you never miss one. 

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all level Public Finance Bankers, Health Care Bankers, Municipal Financial Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.