Best Investment Banks To Work For In 2024 (2024)

Best Investment Banks To Work For In 2024 (1)

The big names get all the attention. Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Bank of America: They’re global, prestigious. diverse, and influential. And they boast long histories, household names, high-profile clients, and acclaimed alumni too. They underwrite the biggest offerings and boast all the resources and advantages.

Who wouldn’t want to join their exclusive ranks?

Well, there are the trade-offs. Think punishing 80-hour weeks, a frantic work pace, and never-ending stress. Sometimes, it can be a life out of whack that ultimately burns out analysts and associates before the giant paychecks roll in. When you work in investment banking, the promises are only as good as the environment.

Make no mistake: you’ll find major fluctuations in the quality of culture, leadership, training, and work-life balance among the top firms.

Which investment banks produce the happiest employees who enjoy the best support, opportunities, and perks? Since 2007, Vault has been answering this question with its Banking 25, which ranks the top investment banks in North America according to bankers themselves. For the 5th consecutive year, Centerview Partners sits atop the list, thanks to earning the highest scores across 16 workplace quality categories. Evercore and Moelis & Company again finished 2nd and 3rd, with Lazard and Guggenheim Securities rounding out the Top 5.

Best Investment Banks To Work For In 2024 (2)

HOW THE RANKING WAS BUILT

An infobase platform, Vault collects employee reviews to produce rankings and company profiles in the banking, consulting, legal, and accounting sectors. In addition, Vault delivers career advice in everything from internships to employment, as well as two dozen career guides that cover industries (including hospitality, real estate, and media and entertainment), job hunting (resumes, networking, and interviewing), and education (college readiness, graduate school, MBA).

In their latest banking survey, which was conducted in the fall of 2023, Vault received responses from over 2,400 banking professionals. That’s down 600 respondents from the 3,000-member sample who answered the year before. To rate employers, Vault uses a 10-point scale, where 10 reflects the highest possible score. As part of the survey, respondents answer questions across 20 Workplace and 6 Diversity dimensions (with the latter not factored into the Banking 25). Workplace facets, for example, may cover Benefits, Client Interaction, and Promotion Policies. In contrast, Diversity evaluates firms on areas like Race, Gender, and even Military Service. In addition, Vault conducts a survey on Prestige, where respondents score firms where they’ve had dealings using the same 1-10 scale.

As a whole, Prestige carries a 40% weight in Vault’s ranking formula. Firm Culture makes up 20% of a firm’s ranking. Compensation, Business Outlook, and Overall Satisfaction each account for a 10% weight. The remaining 10% is divided evenly between Work/Life Balance and Training. Vault’s weighting system remains the same from the previous year.

Best Investment Banks To Work For In 2024 (3)

A LOOK INSIDE CENTERVIEW PARTNERS

What has been Centerview Partners’ secret to securing the #1 spot for so long? Simple: the firm notches the highest scores nearly across the board – and in the workplace dimensions that matter most. This includes highly-weighed areas like Firm Culture (20%), Compensation (10%), Business Outlook (10%), Overall Satisfaction (10%), Work-Life Balance (5%), and Informal Training (2.5%). In other words, Centerview Partners holds the highest marks across 57.5% of Vault’s ranking weight. Overall, the firm ranked #1 in 16 out of 26 dimensions, finishing among the Top 3 in each one except Prestige (4th), International Opportunities (5th), and LGBTQ+ Diversity (4th). That aligns with the 2023 ranking, where Clearview Partners topped its rivals across 15 dimensions. In this year’s ranking, the firm moved up to the top spot in Benefits and Relationships with Managers, while losing ground in Client Interaction.

In less than two decades, Centerview Partners has been involved in deals totaling over $3 billion dollars. For the most part, survey respondents have been bullish on their firm. One employee calls it the “highest pay on the street.” Another highlighted perks like an on-site gym and “free breakfast, lunch, and dinner” – which reduces the stress and makes the atmosphere there “more social and pleasant.” At the same time, a third respondent celebrates the firm’s commitment to maintaining a winning culture in a tough business.

“At the end of the day, M&A is a client service business, which means that schedules are fluid and days/weeks can be long, but those who stay in this job understand that this is what you are signing up for, and if you are putting in the hours, there is not a better place to do it. There is tremendous focus internally on ensuring that the culture is strong, and teams are closely monitored to ensure that the appropriate work/life balance is being facilitated. There are a wide range of internal programs that build connectivity both inside and outside of teams, and the firm very much maintains a ‘small-firm feel’ even as it has continued to grow.”

CENTERVIEW POISED FOR FURTHER GROWTH

One program is the partner-run Centerview University, which takes a big picture, long-term approach to employee development and decision-making. Rather than chasing the quick fix says one respondent, junior bankers are trained focus more on the firm’s future – and their place in it. “It’s a win-win from a career perspective. By developing our people into the best bankers who stay at Centerview, our clients win, our people win, and the business also thrives.”

J.W. Marriott is famous for saying, “Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your customers.”Centerview Partners epitomizes this approach. One survey respondent noted that, despite a down year in 2023, Centerview Partners was still among two firms on the street enjoying revenue increase last year. And this commitment to employees shows in far more areas than the bottom line.

“The firm goes from strength-to-strength,” adds another respondent. “Hardly anyone ever leaves. Market share continues to expand. We continue to build out in geographies and industries where we have not had a footprint, which creates a ton of opportunity for young people. I often tell young people you want to start a career where the growth is. For Wall Street, that growth area remains the boutiques, and Centerview foremost among them.”

Best Investment Banks To Work For In 2024 (4)

THE EVERCORE EDGE

Ranking 2nd overall, Evercore has handled large cap transactions for nearly 30 years. Most recently, Evercore has advised clients ranging from U.S. Steel to IBM to BlackRock. Known as the ‘boutique with brainiacs’, it ranked 1st in Vault’s Formal Training survey – and among the Top 3 across 13 Work and Life dimensions. When it comes to Diversity, Evercore placed 1st in four dimensions: Disabilities, Women, LGBTQ+, and Overall Diversity.

“The firm has made strong efforts to improve our focus on DE&I,” wrote one Evercore survey respondent in 2023. “Each business unit has created annual initiatives around these efforts, and has presented and reviewed progress throughout the year with senior leadership at the firm. The firm created a Global Diversity Council and four Diversity Networks focused on Women, Traditionally Underrepresented Minorities, LGBTQ+ employees, and Veterans.”

Unlike Centerview Partners, Evercore lacks an on-site gym and free lunches. That said, the dress is relaxed and bankers can work from home on Friday while enjoying protected Saturdays, according to another survey-taker. “Everyone is respectful and genuine in all facets. Sure, there are bad apples everywhere, but Evercore seems to have the fewest. Additionally, there’s a spirit of integrity that is pervasive—it’s better to do things right than to do them easy. If you’re struggling or need help, you can ask anyone, anytime, without judgement. I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.”

Evercore is also centered on an apprenticeship model, with senior bankers “focused” on ingraining the culture and building the skill sets necessary for a successful, long-term career at the firm. By the same token, Evercore incorporates a flexible model, where bankers can move around through different industries and product group – all with heavy client exposure.

“Another great aspect of the firm’s career development is how much freedom and latitude you get to run with client engagements/deals, which gives you tremendous opportunity to dictate the work and build client relationships,” adds another respondent. “It’s about getting the job done in the best way possible and without the hierarchy, which creates an environment for learning and growth.

Best Investment Banks To Work For In 2024 (5)

SUPPOSED “SWEAT SHOP” EARNS HIGH MARKS NEARLY EVERYWHERE

Overall, Evercore gained over .10 of an index point in the Vault Banking 25 – with 3rd-ranked Moelis & Company losing .15 of a point over the previous year. Ranked as the #1 investment bank for military veterans, Moelis & Company ranked 2nd in eight Work-Life dimensions (and 3rd through 5th in another nine dimensions. Why does Moelis rank behind Evercore? Simple: Evercore scored a full point above Moelis & Company when it comes to Prestige, which carries a 40% weight.

Regardless, the Vault survey results undercut the narrative that Moelis is a glorified “sweat shop” writes one respondent. “The firm does a great job at offering vacation time and granting personal time requests. They care about us as people which is a huge benefit in my opinion. Alongside that, they do a great job of organizing group/team-building outings and activities. It is a lot of hard work, but the rewards are a great incentive to work a long day.”

More than that, adds another survey-taker, the work done at the firm actually matters. “You work a lot at Moelis, but it’s mostly on live, real deals. It’s not a bunch of high-level coverage work that (seems to) go nowhere, as my friends from other banks tell me. In a couple of years, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a variety of deals across media/entertainment and consumer, and given the extensive workload, I’ve been able to develop quickly and feel much more confident than I ever did before. I’m learning every day and am ready to take on new challenges as I work towards becoming a VP.”

Another Vault respondent publicized how Moelis continued adding talent even during a “slower” 2023. At the same time, the firm boosted its capabilities in tech and capital markets, while adding a CleanTech platform. Call it a reflection of the founder’s optimism, which sets the tone and the bar for the rest of the firm.

“Ken Moelis leads from the front,” observes one respondent. “He’s always upbeat and takes advantage of downturns in the market with strategic hires. Overall, our leaders are very capable, smart, and driven. I’m confident the firm will continue to thrive.”

WATCH OUT FOR HARRIS WILLIAMS

Looking at the Top 10, the Vault Banking 25 experienced some noticeable shifts. Morgan Stanley dropped from 4th to 6th compared to the previous year. PJT Partners, Perella Weinberg Partners, and Greenhill & Company each lost a spot to rank 7th through 9th this year. In contrast, Harris Williams gained two places to rank 10th, while William Blair lost two spots to finish 11th.

Notably, Harris Williams ranked among the five-best in eight dimensions, including 1st for Client Interaction. Plus, it posted the 2nd-best scores for Military Veterans The firm’s downfall? It finished 26th in Prestige. Despite this, it is definitely a firm to watch according to Derek Loosvelt, Vault’s editorial director, in a Thursday interview with Poets&Quants.

“Harris Williams is an up-and-comer in investment banking. It’s been receiving rave reviews from insiders the past few years in most workplacecategories that our surveycovers, and its name is getting more widely-known. This year, bankers at peer firms say it’s a “good sell-side shop” with a “very chill Southern culture,” adding that the firm’s bankers “work hard” but are “down-to-earth.” And we actually think No. 26 in Prestige is quite impressive given Harris Williams’ relatively young age and relatively small size compared to a lot of its banking peers. Consider that, in Prestige this year, it outranked all of these massive, global firms: Deutsche Bank, HSBC, BNP Paribas, Nomura, and SocGen. It also outranked some very well-known smallerbanks, includingRaymond James, Baird, Solomon Partners, and TD Cowen.”

Goldman Sachs headquarters in New York City

BIG FIRM RUNS TOO LEAN

The most significant move came from Guggenheim Securities, which rose from 8th to 5th. Loop Capital Markets, the United States’ largest minority-owned investment bank, ranked 1st for Racial and Ethnic Diversity and moved from 14th to 18th overall. Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan each gained three spots to rank 16th and 17th respectively. Four firms – Qatalyst Partners, Citi, Jefferies & Company, and Barclays – each lost four spots to rank 19th through 22nd respectively. Rothschild & Company and Allen & Company debuted at 23rd and 24th respectively, while Houlihan Lokey tumbled from 11th to 25th. The latter was due to lacking the necessary number of employee survey responses – a fate it shared with banks like Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan.

Extending out two years, Centerview Partners and Evercore have improved their scores by .193 and .081 of a point respectively in the Banking 25. In contrast, Solomon Brothers and T.D. Cowan lost .665 and .350 of a point respectively.

Despite this, these firms did make the final ranking due to responses from rival bankers who participated in the Vault Banking 25. These respondents gave Goldman Sachs the highest score in Prestige – 8.665 – which is over .3 of a point lower than its scores two years ago. On the plus side, notes one Goldman Sachs respondent, the firm has taken pains to ensure work-life balance, including “no shaming in taking vacation days.” Still, Goldman Sachs “runs very lean,” the same employee – creating “little downtime” and “always a sense of urgency.”

“They prompt us to take time off and limit our hours, but the workload and level of client service we provide don’t allow for this,” adds another survey-taker. “The firm has tried multiple times to solve this using technology or restructuring departments, but it’s really a manpower issue. The people I work with truly want me to have my vacation days to myself—they make a great effort not to bother me while on vacation.”

MORGAN STANLEY VS. J.P. MORGAN

Just .033 of a point separated Morgan Stanley from J.P. Morgan for the 2nd spot when it comes to Prestige. The former boasts a wide range of revenue streams, with a deep footprint in the institutional space. According to recent Vault surveys, Morgan Stanley is placing greater emphasis on employee health. This can range from on-site yoga classes to increased health coverage for fertility options – and much more.

“Free virtual therapy, free Headspace membership, on-site gym and discounted memberships at other gyms, on-site medical professionals, and health-conscious options at the cafeteria,” according to one survey respondent. “The firm is dedicated to wellness and has shown it in recent years.”

J.P. Morgan is renowned for its size – think 250,000 employees –and versatility. The ‘Swiss knife of banks,” J.P. Morgan is helmed by Jamie Dimon, perhaps the most respected CEO in the world. Still, the firm’s biggest advantage, survey respondents say, is its flexibility. Due to the various business lines within J.P. Morgan, talent can join different groups or functions when they are ready to tackle something new. In fact, management welcomes it.

“I’ve been at several banks on Wall Street, and J.P. Morgan has the best/most organized training of junior staff,” observes one survey respondent. “J.P. Morgan is also a big firm, and I’ve seen employees transition from one part of the bank to another (especially if you do a solid job and have a good internal rating on performance reviews and the support of your manager). Moving within the bank to pursue an opportunity outside of your line of business is not an impossible task.”

Best Investment Banks To Work For In 2024 (7)

PAY AND BENEFITS CAUSE RIPPLES

While the big names have retained their reputations, prestige is seemingly declining in banking. Among the 25 highest-ranked firms for prestige, 21 firms received a lower score than the previous year. This included LionTree Advisors (-.429), Greenhill & Company (-.389), Morgan Stanley (-.289), and Perella Weinberg (-.259). Similarly, UBS has lost .351 of a point in prestige over that same period, while Centerview Partners has gained .352 of a point.

Looking back to 2023, Vault also found some dissatisfaction among elite banking’s ranks. Survey respondents’ satisfaction with Compensation fell by 4 percent, which was nearly matched by a 3 point drop in satisfaction with Benefits. As a whole, according to the Vault Banking 50 press release, prospects have improved in investment banking in recent years.

“These results perhaps underscore the difficult deal markets Wall Street firms faced in 2023—global M&A deal volume dropped by 17 percent to $2.9 trillion, its lowest value since 2013. On the plus side, over the five-year period from 2019 through 2023, Satisfaction with Compensation increased by 1.4 percent. Meanwhile, over the same period, Satisfaction with Benefits increased 3.5 percent.”

A LOOK AHEAD TO 2024

What’s on the horizon for banking in 2024? Vault’s Derek Loosvelt lists three firms on the rise in the coming year: Evercore, Guggenheim Securities, and Perella Weinberg.

“This year, all three saw their rankings rise pretty significantly in all of these workplace categories: Business Outlook, Compensation, Firm Leadership, Internal Mobility, International Opportunities, and Wellness,” Loosvelt tells P&Q. “In addition, Evercore jumped four places to No. 3 in Quality of Work. Guggenheim rose an impressive sixplaces to No. 3 in Work/Life Balance. And Perella Weinbergrose three places to rank No. 3 in Benefits. Given that all these banks are performing well financially, and that markets are expected to improve in 2024, I’d watch for these firms to rise even further in our rankings next year.”

When it comes to larger trends, Loosvelt points to a return in deal markets in the coming year, particularly in mergers and acquisitions.

“Given that inflation is easing, interest rates are no longer rising, and equity markets are strong, 2024 is poised to be a good year for advisorywork on Wall Street. And, of course, an uptick in advisory work means larger bottom lines at banks and thus larger compensation packages for banking professionals. [This] could very well translate into higher ratings in general in many of our survey categories, including Compensation, Benefits, Quality of Work, and Satisfaction. On the other hand, more deals in the pipeline (and more work to do) could negatively impact ratings in Hours and Work/Life Balance. However, in the course of our surveys,bankers tell us time and again that when they’re working on live deals and getting paid fairly, the long hours and little work/life balance are easier to deal with.”

Click on the links below for more detailed rankings:

VAULT BANKING 25: OVERALL RANKING

VAULT BANKING 25: PRESTIGE RANKING

VAULT BANKING 25: CAREER, QUALITY OF LIFE, AND DIVERSITY RANKINGS

Best Investment Banks To Work For In 2024 (8)

Best Investment Banks To Work For In 2024 (9)

Best Investment Banks To Work For In 2024 (10)

Benefits

1) Centerview Partners

2) Moelis & Company

3) Perella Weinberg

Business Outlook

1) Centerview Partners

2) Guggenheim Securities

3) Evercore

Client Interaction

1) Harris Williams

2) Centerview Partners

3) Moelis & Company

Compensation

1) Centerview Partners

2) Harris Williams

3) Guggenheim Securities

Culture

1) Centerview Partners

2) Harris Williams

3) Greenhill & Company

ESG Practices

1) Centerview Partners

2) William Blair

3) Evercore

Firm Leadership

1) Centerview Partners

2) Moelis & Company

3) Harris Williams

Formal Training

1) Evercore

2) Centerview Partners

3) Moelis & Company

Hiring Process

1) Centerview Partners

2) Evercore

3) Moelis & Company

Hours

1) Centerview Partners

2) Loop Capital Markets

3) Guggenheim Securities

Informal Training

1) Centerview Partners

2) Evercore

3) Moelis & Company

Internal Mobility

1) Centerview Partners

2) Moelis & Company

3) William Blair

International Opportunities

1) Lazard

2) Greenhill & Company

3) Moelis & Company

Promotion Policies

1) Centerview Partners

2) Moelis & Company

3) Harris Williams

Quality Of Work

1) Centerview Partners

2) Moelis & Company

3) Evercore

Relationships With Managers

1) Centerview Partners

2) Moelis & Company

3) Evercore

Satisfaction

1) Centerview Partners

2) Moelis & Company

3) Evercore

Vacation Policies

1) William Blair

2) Centerview Partners

3) Loop Capital Partners

Wellness

1) Centerview Partners

2) Moelis & Company

3) Evercore

Work/Life Balance

1) Centerview Partners

2) Greenhill & Company

3) Guggenheim Securities

Overall Diversity

1) Evercore

2) Centerview Partners

3) Moelis & Company

Disabilities

1) Evercore

2) Loop Capital Markets

3) Centerview Partners

Diversity For Women

1) Evercore

2) Loop Capital Markets

3) Centerview Partners

LGBTQ+ Diversity

1) Evercore

2) Moelis & Company

3) Loop Capital Markets

Racial & Ethnic Diversity

1) Loop Capital Markets

2) Evercore

3) Centerview Partners

Military Veterans

1) Moelis & Company

2) Harris Williams

3) Centerview Partners

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The post Best Investment Banks To Work For In 2024 appeared first on Poets&Quants.

As a seasoned finance professional with a deep understanding of investment banking and the dynamics within top firms, I can provide comprehensive insights into the concepts and trends discussed in the provided article. Here's a breakdown of the key concepts and firms mentioned:

  1. Vault Rankings Methodology: Vault is a reputable source for industry rankings, including investment banking. It gathers employee reviews to assess workplace quality across various dimensions such as culture, compensation, work-life balance, diversity, and training. These rankings are based on a weighted system, with factors like prestige, firm culture, compensation, and overall satisfaction contributing to the final score.

  2. Centerview Partners:

    • Centerview Partners consistently ranks as the top investment bank in Vault's rankings, thanks to its high scores across workplace quality categories.
    • The firm prioritizes aspects like firm culture, compensation, business outlook, overall satisfaction, work-life balance, and informal training, contributing to its positive employee experience.
    • Employee testimonials highlight benefits such as competitive pay, on-site amenities like gyms and meals, strong internal culture, and opportunities for career development.
  3. Evercore:

    • Evercore ranks consistently high in Vault's rankings, particularly excelling in formal training and diversity dimensions.
    • The firm emphasizes diversity and inclusion efforts, ranking well in areas like disabilities, women, LGBTQ+, and overall diversity.
    • Employee feedback praises the firm's focus on career development, client exposure, and a supportive work environment.
  4. Moelis & Company:

    • While not ranking as high as Centerview and Evercore, Moelis & Company performs well in various workplace dimensions.
    • Employee testimonials highlight the firm's commitment to work-life balance, career development, and meaningful deal experiences.
    • Despite perceptions of long hours, employees appreciate the firm's efforts to maintain a positive culture and provide opportunities for growth.
  5. Harris Williams:

    • Harris Williams is recognized for its strong client interaction and support for military veterans.
    • Despite lower prestige rankings, the firm's positive workplace culture and opportunities for career advancement are acknowledged.
    • Employee feedback emphasizes the firm's supportive environment and opportunities for professional growth.
  6. Industry Trends:

    • Vault's rankings reveal shifts in perceptions of top investment banks, with some firms rising in prominence while others decline.
    • Trends indicate a growing emphasis on workplace wellness, diversity, and career development initiatives.
    • Despite challenges such as long hours and high stress, investment banking remains attractive due to competitive compensation and opportunities for meaningful work.

By analyzing these concepts and trends, it's evident that investment banking firms prioritize employee satisfaction, career development, and diversity initiatives to maintain their competitive edge in the industry.

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