We empirically test the hypothesis that relatively high returns to talent explain the wage premium for working in finance. We exploit a specificity of the French educational system to build a precise measure of talent that we match with compensation data obtained from an educational elite. Using this measure, we show wage returns to talent to be three times higher in the finance industry than in the rest of the economy. This greater sensitivity to talent almost fully explains the level of the finance wage premium, its evolution since the 1980s, and, at the individual level, the pay increase workers obtain when joining the finance industry. Finally, talented workers receive a larger share of variable compensation, and even more so in the finance industry.