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Is Your Colleague Earning More Than $200,000 a Year? Now You Can Find Out

As a salary transparency law takes effect in New York City, postings show pay ranges for jobs at companies from Amazon to PwC

By CHIP CUTTER
Wed, Nov 2, 2022 8:59amGrey Clock 3 min

Want to make more than $200,000 a year in New York? The options may be more plentiful than you think.

From content director at Colgate-Palmolive Co. to the diversity, equity and inclusion business manager at Macy’s Inc., the list of jobs offering the chance to make over $200,000 includes careers in a wide a range of industries, one of the early revelations from New York City’s new salary transparency law.

The measure, which takes effect Tuesday, requires nearly all New York employers to list pay on job postings, along with internal transfer or promotion opportunities. Companies hiring for remote positions that could conceivably be done from New York must also comply with the law and list minimum and maximum salary ranges, city officials have said.

The result is a trove of updated job listings at some of the nation’s most prominent employers, providing job seekers, existing employees and the merely curious with a rare glimpse at the pay practices of major companies.

Some employers, like Amazon.com Inc., have dozens of jobs with maximum pay of more than $200,000, according to listings. An opening for principal product manager in the company’s Amazon Music division lists a base salary of $197,900 to $267,800 a year in New York. A head of leadership and organisational development can make a salary of as much as $321,700.

An Amazon spokesman, August Aldebot-Green, said the company is committed to pay equity and lists the pay for some roles even when not required.

The listed ranges, which companies had to post as of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, can help shed light on how companies set pay, a process that has long baffled both job seekers and employees. The salary data also are likely to raise questions among workers about why some jobs pay so much more than others, compensation specialists say.

Pay “is going to be all over the map,” said Susan Schroeder, a partner at Compensation Advisory Partners LLC and a longtime compensation consultant. “All of this has been done behind the scenes for years.”

How pay is determined has also become more complex, executives and advisers say. Many large companies have roughly 15 salary grades, or broad pay bands internally; human-resources staffers then try to match similar roles across departments to each of those levels, Ms. Schroeder said. Companies often then buy data sets listing salaries at rivals or in an industry as a whole in an attempt to benchmark pay to others.

New York’s law doesn’t require companies to include information on benefits, bonuses or additional stock-based compensation. Many employers note on listings that base pay can vary by location, skills and other factors. Though the law requires employers to post “good-faith” ranges, what that means in reality is up to some interpretation, executives say.

Among the listings posted so far, lower-level jobs tend to have fairly narrow ranges. By contrast, some companies list salaries for senior positions that vary by more than $200,000. An assistant vice president position involving machine learning platforms at CVS Health Corp., for example, has a posted range of $189,400 to $416,700. A CVS Health spokeswoman declined to comment.

Some ranges can be so broad they are essentially meaningless for workers, some employment attorneys say. Employers posting wide ranges may be aiming to reflect that a broad array of candidates could potentially fill the role, including those who are very senior, said Nancy Boston, director of compensation at payroll processor Automatic Data Processing Inc.

“You want to ensure if a company needs to recruit somebody who’s really highly an expert in that area, they’re able to attract that level of talent,” she said.

The position of global content director at Colgate, which seeks 10 years of experience, includes a range of $172,000 to $253,050. The position focuses on content “through the entire marketing funnel,” a posting notes. A research and innovation director position in skin health and personal care comes with a top salary of $225,750.

Some companies are also spelling out the differences in pay between locations on job listings. A position for a tax director at accounting and consulting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP says that the base pay ranges between $144,000 and $368,000 in Colorado; in New York, that salary is listed at between $158,400 and $434,000. A PwC spokeswoman didn’t immediately comment.

Cost-of-living differences can account for variations in pay between states, compensation specialists say. Colorado’s salary transparency law took effect last year, while salary ranges will be required in states such as California and Washington beginning in January. Companies that fail to comply with New York City’s law could face fines or other penalties.

Pay matters have become so complex that those who advise on it typically earn six-figure salaries, too, postings show. A position for a job architecture manager, advising clients on compensation strategies, at Deloitte has a posted salary range of $145,000 to $268,000. The posting notes that at Deloitte, “it is not typical for an individual to be hired at or near the top of the range.” A compensation consultant at Warner Bros. Discovery, owner of CNN and HBO, can earn as much as $187,460.

Other workplace-related roles also come with salaries topping $100,000. At Macy’s, the diversity and inclusion role, supporting the company’s chief diversity officer, lists a base salary of $142,080 to $237,000.

ADP’s Ms. Boston advised workers browsing career sites to remember that total compensation may be different than the base salary, and said she encouraged employers to be prepared to clearly articulate how pay decisions are made.

“I can assume that there will be a lot of confusion,” she said.

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Equities are often seen as expensive after promising start to 2023

By CAITLIN MCCABE
Mon, Jan 30, 2023 7 min

A new trading year kicked off just weeks ago. Already it bears little resemblance to the carnage of 2022.

After languishing throughout last year, growth stocks have zoomed higher. Tesla Inc. and Nvidia Corp., for example, have jumped more than 30%. The outlook for bonds is brightening after a historic rout. Even bitcoin has rallied, despite ongoing effects from the collapse of the crypto exchange FTX.

The rebound has been driven by renewed optimism about the global economic outlook. Investors have embraced signs that inflation has peaked in the U.S. and abroad. Many are hoping that next week the Federal Reserve will slow its pace of interest-rate increases yet again. China’s lifting of Covid-19 restrictions pleasantly surprised many traders who have welcomed the move as a sign that more growth is ahead.

Still, risks loom large. Many investors aren’t convinced that the rebound is sustainable. Some are worried about stretched stock valuations, or whether corporate earnings will face more pain down the road. Others are fretting that markets aren’t fully pricing in the possibility of a recession, or what might happen if the Fed continues to fight inflation longer than currently anticipated.

We asked five investors to share how they are positioning for that uncertainty and where they think markets could be headed next. Here is what they said:

‘Animal spirits’ could return

Cliff Asness, founder of AQR Capital Management, acknowledges that he wasn’t expecting the run in speculative stocks and digital currencies that has swept markets to kick off 2023.

Bitcoin prices have jumped around 40%. Some of the stocks that are the most heavily bet against on Wall Street are sitting on double-digit gains. Carvana Co. has soared nearly 64%, while MicroStrategy Inc. has surged more than 80%. Cathie Wood‘s ARK Innovation ETF has gained about 29%.

If the past few years have taught Mr. Asness anything, it is to be prepared for such run-ups to last much longer than expected. His lesson from the euphoria regarding risky trades in 2020 and 2021? Don’t count out the chance that the frenzy will return again, he said.

“It could be that there are still these crazy animal spirits out there,” Mr. Asness said.

Still, he said that hasn’t changed his conviction that cheaper stocks in the market, known as value stocks, are bound to keep soaring past their peers. There might be short spurts of outperformance for more-expensive slices of the market, as seen in January. But over the long term, he is sticking to his bet that value stocks will beat growth stocks. He is expecting a volatile, but profitable, stretch for the trade.

“I love the value trade,” Mr. Asness said. “We sing about it to our clients.”

—Gunjan Banerji

Keeping dollar’s moves in focus

For Richard Benson, co-chief investment officer of Millennium Global Investments Ltd., no single trade was more important last year than the blistering rise of the U.S. dollar.

Once a relatively placid area of markets following the 2008 financial crisis, currencies have found renewed focus from Wall Street and Main Street. Last year the dollar’s unrelenting rise dented multinational companies’ profits, exacerbated inflation for countries that import American goods and repeatedly surprised some traders who believed the greenback couldn’t keep rallying so fast.

The factors that spurred the dollar’s rise are now contributing to its fall. Ebbing inflation and expectations of slower interest-rate increases from the Fed have sent the dollar down 1.7% this year, as measured by the WSJ Dollar Index.

Mr. Benson is betting more pain for the dollar is ahead and sees the greenback weakening between 3% and 5% over the next three to six months.

“When the biggest central bank in the world is on the move, look at everything through their lens and don’t get distracted,” said Mr. Benson of the London-based currency fund manager, regarding the Fed.

This year Mr. Benson expects the dollar’s fall to ripple similarly far and wide across global economies and markets.

“I don’t see many people complaining about a weaker dollar” over the next few months, he said. “If the dollar is falling, that economic setup should also mean that tech stocks should do quite well.”

Mr. Benson said he expects the dollar’s fall to brighten the outlook for some emerging- market assets, and he is betting on China’s offshore yuan as the country’s economy reopens. He sees the euro strengthening versus the dollar if the eurozone’s economy continues to fare better than expected.

—Caitlin McCabe

Stocks still appear overvalued

Even after the S&P 500 fell 15% from its record high reached in January 2022, U.S. stocks still look expensive, said Rupal Bhansali, chief investment officer of Ariel Investments, who oversees $6.7 billion in assets.

Of course, the market doesn’t appear as frothy as it did for much of 2020 and 2021, but she said she expects a steeper correction in prices ahead.

The broad stock-market gauge recently traded at 17.9 times its projected earnings over the next 12 months, according to FactSet. That is below the high of around 24 hit in late 2020, but above the historical average over the past 20 years of 15.7, FactSet data show.

“The old habit was buy the dip,” Ms. Bhansali said. “The new habit should be sell the rip.”

One reason Ms. Bhansali said the selloff might not be over yet? The market is still underestimating the Fed.

Investors repeatedly mispriced how fast the Fed would move in 2022, wrongly expecting the central bank to ease up on its rate increases. They were caught off guard by Fed Chair Jerome Powell‘s aggressive messages on interest rates. It stoked steep selloffs in the stock market, leading to the most turbulent year since the 2008 financial crisis. Now investors are making the same mistake again, Ms. Bhansali said.

Current stock valuations don’t reflect the big shift coming in central-bank policy, which she thinks will have to be more aggressive than many expect. Though broader measures of inflation have been falling, some slices, such as services inflation, have proved stickier. Ms. Bhansali is positioning for such areas as healthcare, which she thinks would be more insulated from a recession than the rest of the market, to outperform.

“The Fed is determined to win the war since they lost the battle,” Ms. Bhansali said.

—Gunjan Banerji

A better year for bonds seen

Gone are the days when tumbling bond yields left investors with few alternatives to stocks. Finally, bonds are back, according to Niall O’Sullivan of Neuberger Berman, an investment manager overseeing about $427 billion in client assets at the end of 2022.

After a turbulent year for the fixed-income market in 2022, bonds have kicked off the new year on a more promising note. The Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index—composed largely of U.S. Treasurys, highly rated corporate bonds and mortgage-backed securities—climbed 3% so far this year on a total return basis through Thursday’s close. That is the index’s best start to a year since it began in 1989, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Mr. O’Sullivan, the chief investment officer of multi asset strategies for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Neuberger Berman, said the single biggest conversation he is currently having with clients is how to increase fixed-income exposure.

“Strategically, the facts have changed. When you look at fixed income as an asset class…they’re now all providing yield, and possibly even more importantly, actual cash coupons of a meaningful size,” he said. “That is a very different world to the one we’ve been in for quite a long time.”

Mr. O’Sullivan said it is important to reconsider how much of an advantage stocks now hold over bonds, given what he believes are looming risks for the stock market. He predicts that inflation will be harder to wrangle than investors currently anticipate and that the Fed will hold its peak interest rate steady for longer than is currently expected. Even more worrying, he said, it will be harder for companies to continue passing on price increases to consumers, which means earnings could see bigger hits in the future.

“That is why we are wary on the equity side,” he said.

Among the products that Mr. O’Sullivan said he favours in the fixed-income space are higher-quality and shorter-term bonds. Still, he added, it is important for investors to find portfolio diversity outside bonds this year. For that, he said he views commodities as attractive, specifically metals such as copper, which could continue to benefit from China’s reopening.

—Caitlin McCabe

 

Find the fear, and find the value

Ramona Persaud, a portfolio manager at Fidelity Investments, said she can still identify bargains in a pricey market by looking in less-sanguine places. Find the fear, and find the value, she said.

“When fear really rises, you can buy some very well-run businesses,” she said.

Take Taiwan’s semiconductor companies. Concern over global trade and tensions with China have weighed on the shares of chip makers based on the island. But those fears have led many investors to overlook the competitive advantages those companies hold over rivals, she said.

“That is a good setup,” said Ms. Persaud, who considers herself a conservative value investor and manages more than $20 billion across several U.S. and Canadian funds.

The S&P 500 is trading above fair value, she said, which means “there just isn’t widespread opportunity,” and investors might be underestimating some of the risks that lie in waiting.

“That tells me the market is optimistic,” said Ms. Persaud. “That would be OK if the risks were not exogenous.”

Those challenges, whether rising interest rates and Fed policy or Russia’s war in Ukraine and concern over energy-security concerns in Europe, are complicated, and in many cases, interrelated.

It isn’t all bad news, she said. China ended its zero-Covid restrictions. A milder winter in Europe has blunted the effects of the war in Ukraine on energy prices and helped the continent sidestep recession, and inflation is slowing.

“These are reasons the market is so happy,” she said.

—Justin Baer

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