Negotiate new salary

I‘m currently thinking about changing my job. Not only the employer, but also the region (from AG/SO to ZH) and banking division (from retail banking to private banking). All of those 3 factors give me a seperate reason for a salary increase. Changing employers usually results in 5-10% higher salaries. Banks in ZH pay higher salaries than those in AG/SO. Private banking is generally better paid than retail banking (especially due to higher requirements like BSc/MSc etc.).

So I was wondering, what increase could I reasonably ask for? And how honest should I be if they ask me about my current salary? My base is 96.5k and my bonus was 23-25k in the near past. So I‘m looking at ~120k total right now.

ZH instead of AG/SO: +10k
Private banking instead of retail: +10k
New employer: +10k

So would it be reasonable to ask for 125k base?


Having been through a job change myself last year, my advice would be:

  • if you can, use your network to find out what others in a similar situation are paid in your future industry and location, with similar years of experience. Thinking in terms of reasonable increases to your base salary anchors your expectations to something that may be completely off. What if people usually get paid 150k base? Then you’d be leaving a lot on the table? (Or 100k base? Then you’d be setting your expectations unreasonably high)

  • the single best thing you can do to test the salary you can command is to get multiple offers and negotiate. Other offers are absolutely the best form of leverage.


One point you made is important to me when negotiating your new salary :

What is your current level of education?

To get a clear idea of what salary you can ask for, I think there are two possibilities:

  • network and ask your peers working in the field and in the area you are targeting
  • get several interviews and compare the salaries that are offered to you.

I don’t know the market for the branch, however I can imagine that a lot of qualified people will be looking to change jobs very quickly due to the uncertainty of jobs at CS-UBS. From this point of view it would be a disadvantage for job seekers if a large number of qualified people were on the market at the same time. In this sense, negotiating a salary in a realistic low range does not seem to me to be a bad strategy (IMO).

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That logic seems flawed. Except for rare skillsets maybe. If it is a 1:1 job they would rarely offer you +10% just being a new hire.

First would be determining your (approx.) market value in ZH private banking for what you bring: is it 100, 110 or 120 k base.

In my case I applied for jobs which where the next step in my career ladder (from “simple” engineer to team leader, now plant manager with development on managing director of the legal structure of the Wastewater treatment plant), then get the average market value for this kind of job and try to bring my relevant add-ons (as an example in my case minimal training needed on the technical side, language proficiency…) to get an increase to the average market value.

The average market value I got from people working in these kind of positions and salarium (which were really similar).

I never disclosed my todays salary. If they insisted, I asked for the salary of my predecessor first (in a polite manner of course). I merely insisted on the job requirements and that I see my market value at xxxx CHF per year.


Hi Cortana,

I am at the start of my career in Switzerland as well and one thing that I learned so far: the first to talk salary numbers loses.

My strategy now when asked about salary is to ask in return, what is the budget / salary range for this position?

I remember one temporary role that was offered to me when I first arrived which was literally double what I was being paid. If I had said my salary at the time, they would have probably just done +20-50% and called it a day


I find your logic correct and would also use the change of employer for a substantial increase of salary.

  • ZH vs. AG/SO is definitely +10%-15% salary
  • New Employer +10k-15k a year
  • Private vs retail, salaries are higher in private, but do you have experience in private banking to justify a raise for that?

Before giving them any number, ask them about their pension plan (employer part of savings contributions, which is on top of gross salary). Banks and insurance have generally good pension plans, but sometimes it is possible to have higher base and bonus, but the pension plan is so bad, that you end up earning less or the same than before.

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I just went through a round of job hunting in February and March this year and maybe I can share personal opinions.

In my opinion, when you look for a new job, your currently salary doesn’t matter at all. What matters is your market price, or the market price of the job you think you can get. So forget about your current salary, just look for some open positions on linkedin. Sooner or later you will get a idea how much you can get paid by your dream offer.

Again I think it’s a irrelevant question. I haven’t been asked this question in any interview. If asked, I would just say it’s irrelevant and refuse to answer. Some recruiters have indeed asked me this question, then I just told them my target salary as my current salary, not being honest at all.


BTW you bought in Aarau region, wouldn’t transport and time in public transport negate the effects of having a higher salary in ZH region (or otherwise formulated : could a career move in Aargau be possible, maybe 5-10k less but better quality of life).

The time gain could be used for sidehustle which would flex your “enterpreuneur spirit” (of course only if you are interested into that).

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Those were actually some really useful tips, especially a good counter to the ridiculous “your current salary” question.

On a side note: how does everyone handle those little text boxes where I should fill in my salary requirement before even applying?

Never apply on these black holes, these are only data gathering machines. Did it in the beginning (like right after studies) but nothing ever came out of it. Mostly I try to research the relevant manager via linkedin or similar. Since I am in rather small structures, these applying methods are also not used much, or you can easily circumvene them by getting into touch with the right person.

Just add some obviously incorrect number like 0 or 999

From my own experience from junior to lead, and being myself involved in hiring people of all levels, i can confirm that the generic „+10k when changing a job“ doesn’t work. Unless changing is combined with transitioning to the next level (junior-mid, senior, lead, head). In such case, moving is the best way to get the max out of it, since most times it‘s harder to get the same when promoted internally.

Thanks for all the suggestions guys, really helpful advice!

When answering how much you require do not speak in terms of salary range because they will always offer you the lower value from the band you said.

As opposed to some others in the thread I think speaking salary at the start helps filter out opportunities. I once invested my time to be interviewed by 8 different people to be offered a salary 40k lower than the one I asked. It’s better to clear that point first in my opinion.


What worked for me was to find some recruiters / personal agencies that are working for the target industry and ask them to estimate my “market value”. Some job listings have a personal agency as a point of contact, so it’s possible to just email them them and ask.

The other option, if there are enough job listings available, is just ask for a lot upfront (for example 140k in your case) and get rejected early in the process. (Some recruiters ask about this even before the first phone call to filter people out). Then, slowly lower the number, until one doesn’t get rejected immediately.

I wouldn’t focus so much on the “reasonble” aspect. In a negotiation, anybody is free to ask for whatever they want. The other party is free to reject an offer.

One more thing: since you already have a job, I’d frame any interview in a way “You know, I have a good job going on and it’s working well for me, but I’m looking for a change of [aspect] because I’d like to [develop/work] in [area/topic]. I’m in no hurry for a change, I’ll listen to what you have to offer me (make sure to ask a lot of questions), and if I’m interested, I might decide to move forward.” It puts you into a good negotiation position, since you always have the option to just walk away as a BATNA.

Guys, it’s not all about the salary. There is a lot more than just what you can earn… and you should never take on a job just because the salary is higher.
Look at other aspects when searching for a job - think of it: you have to go there every day… and money won’t buy you happiness… :wink:

@Cortana : i PNd you, got a lot of insides as i’m exactly in this business in ZH :wink:


Extremely true, I agree 100%.

I also think that given any particular job you may be doing, you should try to maximise the amount you are getting paid for it.

Think of it this way: you are being hired because the value you create is greater than your cost to the company. Any money you leave on the table is excess value you are giving to the company rather than to yourself.

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i’ll try to put it into other words.

In finance, i have never seen an incentive for a manager to try to “minimise out” on the salary he will be paying to a future employee. Sure, i don’t want to be overpaying… but i have never seen someone paying less, just because a future employee was asking too little.

And think of it in the following way: employee don’t leave bad companies… they leave toxic work cultures/managers. So aim for a good manager…

What is a good manager: it’s someone taking good care of his team… and thus paying fair/good salaries (to look only at one dimension). Every manager knows that getting budget for raises every year is very difficult, so you have to pay decent salaries when you are recruting, as this is the easiest way to have your employees happy (on that dimension)… and as a manager you don’t want to be recruiting all the time - you try to get good employee and to keep them happy.

Sure, if you are purely looking to max out your salary… you will get into a bank with such a work culture/ethic… if this is what you personally aim for, go for it… but this wouldn’t be something for me. I got a couple of colleagues/friends you were always aiming to max. out… it might have paid out in the beginning of their carreer, but their work-life balance has always been terrible and happiness in life cannot be bought… and medium-term: finance is a small market place… for a good job you will always get a decent/good salary, as no bank can afford to be way off with their compensations.

I just try to make a case for younger talents to make the right choices and to consider more dimensions rather than just focusing on money. But it’s always a very personal choice.


I would only do that if the new company contacted me first. Otherwise I would declare it as obvious bullshitting in negotiations, which I cant stand.

Also I recommand to go with a salary range, but use for the lower end the number you actually want.

That’s something everybody can agree on, but on the other hand, the salary is the one thing that’s legally binding. When a recruiter tells you the company is great, you have a lot of freedom, people are awesome, you basically take their word, and their incentives are misaligned with yours. The salary number is right there in the contract, that’s the only hard metric.

About negotiations: in my experience, companies requiring a number from the applicant underpay people. So if they don’t allow the “I don’t know / I’d rather not say a number” answer, it’s unlikely to be interesting financially speaking (unless you’re already being underpaid). In my case (not banking) I don’t think I’ll ever say a number first again, but the company is always free to give a range if they want to speed up the process in case there’s an obvious mismatch. Having more interviews is good for me (for practice), so if they want to save time it’s their problem.