Another Way to Classify Boutiques
The term "EB" is thrown around all too often on this forum, and while they share the characteristics of being among the most reputable independent advisory firms, the firms in the group are quite different. The following is a better way to break down EBs.
: The Institutions
are quite different from other EBs in that they are far larger and are more institutionalized, and are the "entrenched players" that really don't suffer from "key player syndrome" that smaller boutiques do. Both of them are far larger than the other EBs and have branched out of IB (Evercore with ER, Lazard with AM). Their talent benches are large enough that losing a single core MD is far from the end of the world. On the downside, as they've organically grown through promoting new MDs and poached MDs from other banks, they've increasingly aimed for volume rather than quality for deal flow, and are increasingly picking up mediocre mandates to ensure stable fees (and partly driven by new MDs trying to make a name for themselves, partly driven by the nature of picking up some average ).
Centerview, PWP, and PJT: The Advisors
The three firms are what you think of when you think of an independent advisory firm. A large portion of their deal flow comes from recurring white-collar clients, and especially at the junior level, quite a portion of the experience is on providing "strategic advisory" in addition to working on traditional M&A deal flow compared to other banks. The three firms are far smaller than Evercore and Lazard, and tend to be much more selective in poaching seniors from other firms. While Evercore and Lazard, in their haste to poach seniors, have poached manymade their name off of the BB brand and not really their capabilities to act as advisors, these three firms largely hand-pick the seniors at BBs that have proven themselves to be capable advisors with large client bases, sticking to their heritage of being founded by the titan dealmakers of Wall Street (Effron, Perella, Taubman). Deal flow tends to be less focused on volume and especially for PWP and Centerview, a very large portion of deal flow comes from longstanding client relationships. A key risk among The Advisors is that they suffer from "key player syndrome" far more than Evercore and Lazard, where the firm can be hurt quite a bit with the departure of some key seniors. The pitch to mandate ratio at these three firms tends to be lower than the other categories due to their operating models and the firms' relative selectivity on what mandates they pick up.
: The Salesman
Caught between The Advisors and The Institutions in terms of size, Moelis also operates a bit differently. Rather than being selective with the mandates theyThe Advisors, Moelis is the scrappy salesman. The MDs at Moelis will pitch on anything and everything. Sure, the core group and top rainmakers at Moelis deal with repeat business from their handful of large-cap clients, but Moelis has promoted many new MDs and poached seniors that simply operate differently from CVP/PWP/PJT, and Moelis today is a volume shop where they'll pitch on anything and just about pick up any mandate. Essentially, Moelis is a . As a result, Moelis has developed the reputation for having one of the most intensive junior experiences of any firm, and while juniors learn a lot and get great deal exposure, the pitch to live deal ratio for the Moelis experience is far higher at Moelis compared to The Advisors. On the flip side, juniors at Moelis will also likely work on more deals throughout their experience, but that comes at a cost to WLB.
: The Relic
Greenhill is a key warning for The Advisors. Once considered the premier independent advisory firm, Greenhill suffered a series of missteps after key seniors departed the firm, and is now a shadow of its former self. Greenhill today exists as a cautionary tale for The Advisors on a potential future that awaits them if they lose core personnel or make a wrong step strategically.