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Old 27-12-2015, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by skydiver View Post
I'm a 3rd year PQE in a Big 4 law firm. I'll be hitting Senior Associate within the next 3 months. I'd like to take this opportunity to clarify the salary structure within local firms. Here goes:

(1) Salary Culture Whilst local firms tend to set a low basic monthly salary, the annual remuneration is by no means unattractive. The annual remuneration mechanism is a very, very bonus-centric one, which involves a bonus component which pushes up the base wage by a minimum of 50%. A minimum 6 month bonus is given to flat-out average performers. Better performers typically get 7-8 months, while star performers (very rare) may get up to 9 or more. Anything less than a 6 month bonus is typically the firmís signal telling an associate to leave.

In order to bring monthly take-home paychecks more in line with those offered by offshore firms, part of the 6 month bonus is set aside, divided by 12 and "front-loaded" into monthly paychecks. These are set out below in Paragraph (3).

The easiest way to calculate your annual pay is to take the following formula: (12 + no. of months bonus) * Basic Salary. Typical annual packages based on a ballpark average performance are set out below in Paragrapsh (3).

(2) Basic Salary schedule for the first 4.5 years:
Year 1 (NQ, 1st 5 months) - $4,000
Year 2 - $5,000
Year 3 - $6,000
Year 4 (SA1) - $7,200
Year 5 (SA2) - $8,500

(3) Take-home Salary schedule for the first 4.5 years (pre-CPF):
Year 1 (NQ, 1st 5 months) - $5,800
Year 2 - $6,800
Year 3 - $7,800
Year 4 (SA1) - $9,000
Year 5 (SA2) - $10,500

(4) Aggregate Annual Salary schedule (based on 6-8 months bonus, ie 18-20 months basic salary)
Year 1 - $30,000 over 5 mths.
Year 2 - $90,000 to $100,000
Year 3 - $108,000 to $120,000
Year 4 - $129,600 to $144,000
Year 5 - $153,000 to $170,000

It is thus clear that the yearly increment in annual pay is not $12,000. Since local firms pay typically 18-20 months of the basic wage within a year, the true average annual increment ranges from $18,000 (years 1-3) to $24,000 (year 4-5 increase), often outstripping the annual increment offered by offshore firms. As a result, the income gap between a Big 4 associate and ann offshore associate shrinks every year, and by the time a local Big 4 associate hits Year 5, his annual pay really isn't too far below what his peers in the offshore firms are taking. Furthermore, the move to offshore firms starts looking less and less attractive, given the better prospects of making partner within the next 3 years.

Final Note: These figures exclude the monthly S$650 employer CPF contribution as these are useless funds that go into your Medisave and Special Account. They can't be used to pay for housing (or anything for that matter), and in most cases, you will only smell these funds when you're way too close to your deathbed... Nevertheless if you wish to include this, you can add about $12,000 to each of the annual income figures stated above.
Bump for being an informative post. Is this still relevant?
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