The Case for Elite Boutiques over any Bulge Brackets in 2022

Disclaimer: Title is a little clickbait. Obviously, positions within banks are extremely group-dependent and everyone has their own preferences. However, IMO when thinking about an analyst position any of the EBs (Centerview, Evercore, Lazard, PJT, Moelis, PWP) will lead to a greater overall experience than the BBs. You have far more responsibility, gain more quantitative + soft skills, and receive higher compensation than the BBs. This doesn't mean GS TMT, MS M&A, or JPM Healthcare aren't stronger choices than some of these firms, but when thinking about these banks (especially for BBs which go through group placement post-offer) it can be much more of a crapshoot. 

I had an offer between a top BB (GS/MS/JPM) and an EB (EVR/LAZ/PJT) and felt it was a no-brainer to take the EB offer. Ultimately, the most important thing when considering an analyst position is where you are going to learn the most. Working on teams where you will be able to work closely with seniors bankers and develop a robust technical acumen (more modeling experience + guaranteed M&A at EBs) is superior to working on bloated teams where a large part of your job is dealing with constant office politics and bureaucracy that bulge bracket bankers commonly deal with. 

For those who chose BB over EB, would love to hear your thoughts on the decision and why you felt it was best for you. I personally feel that too many people fall in love with the "prestige" of bulge bracket firms as if anyone outside of finance cares what firm we all work at.

Now the rankings (just my preferences when going through the recruiting process, but all of these groups will give you the same opportunities):

1A. Centerview, PJT RX, GS TMT, Evercore, Lazard, MS M&A, GS FIG

1B. PJT M&A, MS Tech, JPM Healthcare, Moelis

1C. PWP, All other top BB groups 

Comments (45)

Most Helpful
Apr 11, 2022 - 2:24am
americanpsycho45, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Felt the same way and ultimately chose an EB over a BB. Thought the most crucial part of a starting position in IB was where I could have the greatest learning experience. Working at an EB with smaller teams and increased responsibility leads to more vast technical knowledge, interpersonal exposure to clients, and importantly feeling like those you work with actually value you.

P.S. have heard some horror stories at BBs where MDs can't tell the difference between you and anyone else in the bullpen. While seniors at EBs will definitely still push you extremely hard and give unrealistic requests , this type of blatant disrespect is much harder simply by virtue of having smaller teams + becoming closer with those you work with.

Also, being up at 1am every night because you're stuck in meaningless meetings, useless turns of comments, and nonstop pitching that often occurs at BB groups is a lot harder to reconcile than staying up late while actually delving into the deal process of live transactions where you're the only analyst/associate on your team when at an EB.

TLDR - EBs over BB for greater learning experience, stronger relationships with senior bankers, and higher compensation. Maybe your aunt won't know the name of your firm, but if that's what you care about you may not last in banking very long.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 14, 2022 - 2:37pm

Work at a BB and can say the office politics and bureaucracy is very frustrating. I spend hours everyday wasting time on tasks that don't help the team or add to my learning process. My friends at EBs definitely have a larger workload than I do though. I've also noticed that at BBs you'll find that a lot of people are just coasting and going through the motions where from anecdotes I've heard everyone at EBs are extremely competent and driven. Probably a function of the kids who are most skilled and interested in finance going to EBs because they recruit before the other banks.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 14, 2022 - 2:53pm

All EBs now pay in a range of 220k-250k for first-year analysts. You're going to be working a ton no matter where you are, so might as well get paid for it at an EB

  • 1
  • Intern in IB - Gen
Apr 11, 2022 - 2:32am

Chose top BB offer (GS TMT/MS M&A) over a top EB offer. While I think generally you are correct in the advantages of choosing an EB is that you generally develop a stronger skill set technically at an EB vs. a BB, I wouldn't necessarily say that for GS TMT/FIG or MS M&A. GS TMT/FIG allows analysts who are strong technically and develop a good relationship with the BUM to request to focus on only M&A, and MS M&A is self-explanatory in terms of M&A modeling experience. A common thing that people site is "more responsibility and leaner deal teams" but these three groups also have lean deal teams with only one analyst so I'm not sure if its an over exaggeration or what.

These groups would offer similar experiences to that of an EB. However, the advantage that GS/MS have over most EB's is brand name. Yes, within finance most people will look at GS/MS/PJT./EVC/CVP as all on a similar level but outside of finance there is still a significant benefit to have been an "ex-GS" banker. If you wanted to exit finance, coming from a BB like GS or MS gives you an advantage over someone coming from CVP or Evercore. 

End of the day, all these opportunities are amazing. My personal view is a top BB group gives you more optionality than an EB with similar experience but slightly less pay (if that matters to you). If you know you want to stay in finance, choose whichever group you fit in with best/have an offer from, no point in comparing exits from GS TMT or PJT RSSG to PE as you'll get looks from almost anywhere and its more individual. 

  • Prospect in Research - Other
Apr 12, 2022 - 2:18pm

Can I pm you? Facing a similar decision

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 14, 2022 - 2:51pm

A few reasons I disagree with this. First, almost everyone exiting banking will be going somewhere (PE, HF, VC, Corp Dev) which is also in finance. Therefore, employers will still know that these EBs are extremely difficult to get into and produce some of the most qualified people within finance. Second, even if you're working in a BB group where you might be the only analyst staffed on a deal, you still have tons of bankers from other groups within the banks joining in on the process and diluting your experience. There's an incredibly large difference between working directly with an MD and a VP on a deal as opposed to being the "only" analyst on a team with 20+ people involved. One of the biggest parts of the analyst experience is learning how successful senior bankers operate with clients, and nowhere do you get as much exposure as at an EB

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Apr 14, 2022 - 2:57pm

You can disagree all you want, the fact is that I personally don't want to stay in finance, I want to transition to entrepreneurship or startups and the BB platform gives me a better name brand. 

To your second point, If you are the only analyst staffed on a deal how would you have other bankers diluting your experience? At my BB (GS/MS), we have very lean deal teams with usually 1 analyst, 1 associate/VP, and an MD. I get plenty of exposure to the senior bankers and clients. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Apr 14, 2022 - 3:28pm

Bruh you've made 4 posts in a row as "Prospect - M and A" arguing about how vastly superior the experience at an EB is Did you like just sign with PWP or something? Lol 

Jun 8, 2022 - 6:46pm
Stonks are only going down, what's your opinion? Comment below:

"End of the day, all these opportunities are amazing. My personal view is a top BB group gives you more optionality than an EB with similar experience but slightly less pay (if that matters to you). If you know you want to stay in finance, choose whichever group you fit in with best/have an offer from, no point in comparing exits from GS TMT or PJT RSSG to PE as you'll get looks from almost anywhere and its more individual."

100% on point. From a practical view, everything else on this thread is irrelevant...

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 11, 2022 - 3:49am

The conclusion that you state does not follow from the premise of the argument.

Case in point: MS Tech has 10 analysts per class and unmatched learning and exposure and makes no sense for a place like CVP or Lazard to rank above it unless you are doing it for comp reasons as both places have similarly sized or larger analyst class sizes .

Other top groups at JP / MS / GS have a similar structure even with larger analyst classes. Here you get the strong BB brand name and exposure to the best senior bankers on the street and solid dealflow. Even in JPM Healthcare, the sheer volume of deals done by the group means that, on occasion, you can be the only analyst staffed on a deal. 

To be honest, these comparisons (especially arbitrary rankings made by individuals with zero experience) make little sense and will have no impact on your career. Most people creating these threads are only self rationalizing their choices. 

Apr 13, 2022 - 6:01am
WB97, what's your opinion? Comment below:

MS for vomiting HR talking points re "unmatched learning and exposure"

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Apr 11, 2022 - 11:39am

recently took EVR/CVP instead of continuing with GS/MS SD. Def the factor that put it over the top (on top of stuff already mentioned) was how closely the seniors actually cared. I had like 9 different people from the group (including MDs and senior MDs) calling/emailing me congrats and answering any questions I had and to come visit the office before I start - feel like this stuff would never happen if I got a BB offer. On top of that, have heard from ppl at the firm that seniors really vouch for you with seniors at other MF PE, top MBAs, etc

Apr 12, 2022 - 9:36am
1234investmentbanking, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I also went with an EB. Thought I'd save myself the headache of office politics and bureaucracy that come with a BB and go somewhere that would (1) pay more, (2) better working conditions (more hours tho, who cares i wouldn't be doing anything else) (3) better exit opps. And also who cares about not having the big MS/GS name, the people who are dumb enough not to know the EBs aren't worth your time anyways.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Apr 12, 2022 - 10:23am

This. I hate when people bring up the brand name of BBs as if the Corp dev or corp strat team full of ex-Bankers and Ex-MBB don't know what EBs are. I don't think anyone should consider working for a place that doesn't value their experience, i.e. know what an EB is.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Apr 12, 2022 - 12:09pm

You have no understanding of reality if you think every single opportunity moving forward should know what an EB is. There are so many potential career routes where a majority of a company in industry has never heard of Evercore or Centerview but has definitely heard of MS/GS

You think people who are actually smart focused on building products and startups care about knowing what an EB is? They dont understand and they won't care. 

I swear people make up reasons to justify going to an EB over a BB at this point. If you're staying in finance (PE/HF, or Corp Dev etc) then yes it doesn't matter, otherwise the GS/MS name matters outside of finance.

Apr 12, 2022 - 2:53pm
ajsoqkaks, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Ranking thread in disguise

Array

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Apr 12, 2022 - 4:22pm

Same but it was my only offer so I didn't have the choice due to the gap between the BB and EB timeline. 

Apr 12, 2022 - 4:54pm
Smoke Frog, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's like arguing between Harvard and Yale. I used to think these were just humble brag posts, but maybe people just like arguing over and over about the Red Sox and Yankees.

The main thing I have noticed is the path the MD is much more defined at the BB. Of course, weak people are pushed out and it's hard to rise and you ascend the pyramid, but you get client exposure and are given a path. My friends at EBs have said it's great as an analyst and associate cause you learn a lot and it's great as an MD coming over from a BB with your Rolodex and eat what you kill comp. But as a VP they can make you just turn grids all day and some MDs like to protect all their client interaction. So the VP never rises, the EB rather just poaches a new MD with established relationships.

And as others have said, outside of finance it never hurts to have GS on the resume. We can scream to the heavens prestige and pedigree are meaningless, but it does to some people. You can also tell that it's what's on the inside that counts, but the fat chick tends to picked last at the bar no matter what people say.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Apr 15, 2022 - 3:52pm

This is not even a debate.

At the end of the day, if you're one of the top talents in your pool, idk any rational person who'd give up a 200k+ offer at a firm that recruits in March/April just to chase antiquated clout tokens at GS. Be it an EB or some BB that knows it can't compete with the big boys. If you're good, you won't even be on the job market long enough to see the big 3 apps open.

Having said that, people grow at different rates. You could be an absolute killer who was just unprepared when the EB's went and found your stride at an MM or BB. You're a better pick for the HHs than the ones who knew how to recruit well but failed to impress at gold standard firms (of which there are many). Moral of the story: quit bitching. If you made it this far, you'll be rich if you spend wisely. And if you work hard, you'll get your pick of the litter of exits - regardless of your banks type or ranking. Just chill out and focus on the important shit.

Apr 17, 2022 - 9:34pm
JustineTobinFootMassage, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
May 14, 2022 - 6:13pm

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