Elite Boutiques or BB ranking in London for work life balance, controversial

Can those who have actually worked in the EB & BB firms please share the real rankings of EB & BB firms in London (or elsewhere in the UK) with the best work-life balance

From my research (best to worst) 


1) Rothschild 

2) Jeffries 

3) Lazard 

4) Evercore 

5) PWP 

6) Moelis 


1) BNP Paribas 

2) UBS 

3) HSBC 

4) Barclays

5) American banks 

Conclusion so far, for WLB

  1. Understand its more team dependent than the actual bank itself
  2. But generally speaking, European BB are far better than American BB for WLB
  3. Sweaty shops to avoid for WLB in London - Rothschild, Jeffries & American banks
  4. Groups to avoid for WLB - Power/ Utilities/ Energy/ Infra & TMT   

I don't agree with this ranking and I don't think it's possible to rank banks 1 by 1 as WLB varies across groups and across time. Generally, weaker deal flow results in better WLB. 

Rothschild is an absolute sweatshop and is by no means a place with a nice WLB. Some boutiques that are very strong in the US (such as Evercore, PJT, Moelis) are not very strong in Europe and WLB is often better than at a place like Rothschild or Lazard. Would most definitely not classify Jefferies as an EB.

When it comes to the BBs, I would say the rule of thumb is that the European banks often have a much better WLB than the American banks. You will most likely find the best WLB at banks with weaker deal flow like HSBC or BNP Paribas. The worst ones will definitely be GS / MS. 

As always, the sweet spot is often somewhere in the middle. If you go for a bank like Deutsche Bank, you can finish the analyst program without getting totally crushed while still having pretty good exit opportunities. Sure, there are some places that might have a strong preference for people from GS / MS but if you care about WLB, you most likely would not want to be at those PE shops anyways. 


So much monkey shit :'( but more helpful if you share your own experience which European BB and which coverage groups in London have a better WLB 

Clearly, Rothschild is poor for WLB from the above feedback.

Thank you for sharing this vital feedback guys, clearly helpful for those applying to future SA and want to have a decent WLB/ mental health :) 

Most Helpful

I'm at GS so don't have very detailed information for other banks. Please find the information that I have below. 

General WLB per group:

In general, TMT tends to be one of the most sweaty group regardless of which bank you're at. Power / utilities / infra is also often very sweaty given how heavy the modelling is. Other than that, I think it very much depends on how strong the respective group is. For example, healthcare might be one of the most chill groups at one bank and a total sweatshop at another bank. 


TMT is super sweaty and a week below 100 hours is very rare. Healthcare can be pretty rough at the moment because they just lost a couple of analysts. Consumer is somewhat chill at the moment due to the current market environment. Natural resources is pretty good in some verticals such as chemicals, but very sweaty if you're working on infra-related stuff. Industrials is not the worst group, but not the best one either. With this said, you won't find a group with a good WLB at GS but there are definitely better and worse ones. I would say for the better groups you can get down towards 80 hours a week and for the worst groups you will be pulling 100+ hour weeks on a regular basis. 


I know people from a bunch of teams at MS and they are all miserable. Hours are very rough and it seems that there is a shitty "hardo" culture across groups. 


Have a couple of friends at DB and hours seem to be pretty good, with most friends working around 70 hours a week and regularly leaving around midnight. I think this is as good as it gets as an analyst in IB if you want to work at a reputable bank. 


Only know one guy at Barclays and he seems to have pretty OK hours. Have heard very good things about the culture. 


Generalising like this isn't helpful. In my experience WLB is very team dependent and does not correlate that consistently with deal flow, its not as simple as saying JPM WLB is worse than Barclays WLB for example. WLB can also change very dramatically in a short space of time if an MD who was causing a lot of pain leaves or HR gets involved.

As an anecdote, I was at European BB about half a decade ago and a few teams (not necessarily the strongest ones) had absolutely abysmal WLB. The WLB of one of the teams was so bad that the entire junior team quit within the space of a couple of months (literally not a single analyst or associate left) and the HK office had to send some juniors on secondment to hold the fort until they could hire more guys. This was probably one of the 3 weakest teams in the entire office in terms of deal flow. About a year after that period the team head left and from what I hear now the culture of the team has been completely turned around. 

One of my flat mates was at a US BB (in an average team) and in comparison to me had amazing WLB (probably got home from work after me maybe once per month and almost never worked weekends, whilst I was physically in the office without fail every Sunday) due to a solid team culture that valued his wellbeing.

Trying to cherry pick an entire bank based on perceived WLB isn't going to work. 


Now I'm learning! So the question should really be which banks have the better team culture which can contribute to better WLB? From either personal experience or heard directly from friends only please 

Can we also name and share? - please feel free to use the anonymous option 

I'm happy to compile all the great feedback share into a conclusion for future SA in London :) 


You would be very lucky to decide between multiple SA offers...


Agree with the above comments. American banks are typically more sweaty than you'd expect, Rothschild apparently 2am regularly and European BB's slightly more chill.

Trying to add info for other banks not mentioned specifically, heard some teams at HSBC have a pretty decent schedule in terms of IB - say 9-10am start, head home about 7pm, then WFH for a few hours. USB also midnight finish so isn't as bad as the other banks. BNP isn't as soft, quite a stuffy culture.

Only know one person at Barclays getting absolutely slammed, but in a Power/Utilities/Energy type group so expected as mentioned above.

If someone seriously wants to avoid sweatshop hours, the safest option would be to just avoid the GS/MS/JPM, Roths/Jeff and boutique's with a bad rep such as Cantor in London as those tend to be the worst. But IB will be bad for everyone, especially when the market recovers in a year or so. 


Former pui banker - avoid this team at any bank (MM, BB, EB) - the group is run by funds (the top tier clients are MAM, KKR, GIP etc - most of whom cannot organise a piss up in a brewery when it comes to bidding and running a process) who make life miserable for the juniors of the advisors they hire, with countless IC packs, Val pres's, comments, requests. Had a deal with MAM, where a vp sent me a file, and asked me to send it back to them with a new name.  

hard technicals and tough modelling ensures good training but be prepared to be shat on in terms of work and the difficulty of it as well as having a great WB (note the L is not present)


is it the same case for the infra teams? also wondering your current work hours breakdown per day + weekends please


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