dealflow: Very good. 2/3 of their pitches turn into deals, and as an analyst only like 15-20% of your time will be spent on pitching. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

reputation: Tops in the middle-market.


HW is an excellent choice if you want to work in the middle market. It won't get you into KKR, but as waltersobchek said, you have an open invite to most PE shops.

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like others have mentioned, they're very well-respected in the middle market. they run very good processes and they're able to get some pretty rich valuations on their deals as a result. i know PE firms (mine included) talk about how tough it is to win a HW deal simply because the multiples are too rich, but i guess from an analyst's perspective, this is the type of work you want to be doing if you're looking to get into the middle market.


something to keep in mind at the analyst level - it seems like they do primarily sellside M&A. while this is definitley helpful in the transition to PE, it doesn't sound like they do much or any buyside m&a at all. i'm still in school, but had offers from HW, and chose another bank primarily for this reason, as I felt that I could get more exposure to different products and whatnot.

Don't know much about the SF office, but the MDs/Directors in Richmond are actually really cool.

I have a friend who went there this summer. Smart guy but he isn't all put together. He did aweful in BB interviews and I guess once all the competition was out of the market he got a job there. That's kind of how I see the place.

BB scraps

Best Response

I know a few current and former HW guys, both personally and professionally, and it's a very good shop. Most of the guys I know still there are Assoc / VP now (know one Director), and I can tell you that pitch stat is darn near accurate, at least in true bake-off scenarios--I was actually discussing that very topic with one of them at an industry event just a few months ago. All the former HW folks I know are now either in PE or bschool, and at some very good places, too. There was that faction that split off from Cobblestone to do their own thing, but that's a totally different ballgame. Oh, and I don't recall if the retention bonuses from PNC have all paid out--pretty sure they have--but I know the attrition hasn't been nearly as bad as it could've been. Firm didn't really flinch, and is still full steam ahead, from what I've seen and heard.

With respect to the hours, their Analysts generally don't have it much if any easier than the kids up on the Street, believe me. Associates, maybe a bit better, though it's still pretty intense. VPs travel a little more than I'd like to, at least in RIC, given that few clients are truly local (though there certainly have been some). And no, you won't spend as much time pitching as you would at a lot of other places, but that sure as hell doesn't mean you won't work as hard.

On the pay side, San Fran gets the biggest premium for cost of living, Boston I believe gets a small premium, and Richmond at bottom. Think their first years get $50 - 60k salary or so, bonuses about Streetish or more in some cases. Their more senior associates and VPs on up do very well.

Anyway, long story short, it's a good place, with very smart people (that comment about BB scraps is completely ridiculous), and you would do well to be an Analyst or Associate there. Exit opps are very good, and you'll certainly learn how to run a rigorous sell-side process. In fact, in line with what numi said, rigorous is an understatement--we joke that HW just flies over a city and drops books out the window. That carpet bombing approach generally leads to rich multiples, however.

And no people, I don't work there, just know a few of the current and former bankers, and have a healthy respect for the firm (they're technically a competitor of ours, in fact, but we don't bump up against them that often).

Hope that sheds a little light for you (HW people please speak up if I misrepresented anything). Remember, though, I'm just one data point. Do your own research and good luck!

And as for the whole is-doing-mostly-sell-side-work-a-bad-thing remark, that's a topic for another discussion, but I don't really think so. Very difficult not to get pigeonholed one way or another (either product or industry) in this business, especially from the get-go.

Once more into the breach, dear friends.

Gorilla, if you take a look at their recent press releases, most of the deals are being led out of the Richmond office. Not too surprising given that is the headquarters. My buddies in their Boston office are kept busy though, so it may just be a size thing.

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Pretty sure all their offices are busy right now, but that's just a guess. The guys I know are all out of Richmond, and I know that office does well. Both the Boston and San Fran offices have been around a while--through ups and downs--so I feel like if they were incapable of generating adequate deal flow they wouldn't be around anymore.

And yeah, thus far the PNC relationship is arms length, from what I've seen and heard. I really don't know how much origination they've got out of it and vice versa. HW has their own HR, at least as far as their recruiting goes, so don't bother contacting PNC directly if you're looking for a job at HW.

Once more into the breach, dear friends.

Does anyone know what a post-mba associate pulls in at HW? I'm guessing its definitely below the street but how far and does it compare to DC MM firms like ACAS or Allied?

Deal flow is strong across all offices; however, I think the deal flow is strongest in Richmond given it has the most MDs. As far as compensation goes they pay equivalent or higher than the street. I think base 70k for analyst, bonuses very comp. / equivalent to BB.

I've heard nothing but good things about the company.

Read this:

IDD Magazine

Harris Williams Has Aspirations in Europe

M&A boutique filling London office with European pros to establish a beachhead, serve the middle market and expand into new areas

By Ken Tarbous December 17, 2009

Middle-market investment banking boutique Harris Williams & Co. opened a London office as part of an effort to capture what it expects will be a pickup in European cross-border M&A activity.

The company joins other boutique firms like Moelis & Co. and Houlihan Lokey that have opened doors overseas to capture market share at the expense of large investment banks.

Thierry Monjauze, who was recently brought in from Deutsche Bank by Harris Williams, will spearhead the expansion. He is a managing director and head of the Richmond, Va., firm's European business.

The London office will focus on technology and new media M&A as well as other verticals, Monjauze says. Harris Williams has six professionals already working at the new location and it expects to grow that to a dozen by the end of next year. "As we build the office we will naturally think about the areas where we are strong in the U.S. We think most of the activity will be in Europe, and we hope that will be the perfect strategy," says Monjauze, a technology banker.

Supplemented by Harris Williams' 160 bankers in the U.S., the London office hopes to land more work in the areas of private placements, divestitures of businesses within public companies, as well as advisory assignments related to capital markets and IPOs.

It is common in Europe for independent firms to act by behalf of a company or its shareholders in helping select banks that are best positioned to help the company go public, says Monjauze.

London will be the seventh location for Harris Williams, a unit of PNC Financial Services Group of Pittsburgh that was started up 18 years ago.

In addition to Richmond, other offices are in Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Boston, Cleveland and San Francisco.

In its nearly two-decade history, the boutique has focused on the sell side and worked on a range of verticals, including industrials, building products, and transport and logistics. But the London effort looks to expand Harris Williams' reach both geographically and in its scope of business.

The boutique has closed deals in Europe since its inception in 1991 and has partnered with other firms when there was a local emphasis.

Monjauze, who has 14 years of investment banking experience, has worked in London since 2002, most recently as co-head of European technology investment banking at Deutsche Bank.

Born in France, he studied in the U.S. and received a master's at Stanford. Monjauze founded a software- and services-focused venture capital fund prior to joining Deutsche. He also oversaw the European software and Internet groups at Credit Suisse First Boston.

Monjauze says the boutique bank is recruiting and hiring only professionals who know the European landscape, rather than trying to transplant bankers from the U.S. to a new home.

"It takes a long time to get accustomed to the client base, the various cultures, the various regulatory cultures. Europe is many countries. I've seen people have trouble adjusting, and bankers go back to the U.S. If success is tied to knowing the private-equity groups and venture-capital groups, having worked in Europe makes a huge difference," Monjauze says.

The vast talent pool of professionals in Europe both displaced by the economic downturn and those looking to move out of larger investment banking firms has enabled the boutique to find bankers who fit well into its culture.

"We didn't believe that moving a bunch of Harris Williams people over there was the right move. We took people who are local and are seasoned and knew the market and it gives them the ability to grow something," says Harris Williams' co-founder Hiter Harris 3rd.

Other investment banking boutiques have sprung up in London and elsewhere in Europe as well as Asia in recent years, but the firm's founder is nonplussed by the competition.

"We probably couldn't have done this a few years ago when the market was hot. We would have found difficulty finding talent. With the market hitting the bottom, the talent available in the marketplace is unbelievable. We never could have attracted these talented people in a past market," Harris says.

Long-time Harris Williams client, private-equity firm The Riverside Company, has engaged the boutique on a number of deals in the U.S. and in Europe.

Bela Szigethy, Riverside co-CEO, says the move has been a long time coming for Harris Williams, but it will take some work to make the effort succeed.

"They're clearly one of the best middle-market buyout firms in North America. The one time they worked on an exit with us in Europe, on their own out of North America, they did an outstanding job," Szigethy says. "It'll be a challenge. There's a lot of tough competition in Europe. Starting from scratch is never easy. It will take a while for them to compete with firms who have been there for a while, including the local firms."

A major reason behind the new office is Harris Williams' expectation that the European cross-border M&A market is primed for more activity in the coming year. The firm's professionals see a lot of pent-up demand; capital on the sidelines needs to be put to work and business owners who held back from selling amid the height of the credit storm are ready to bring their companies to market.

"We really do see things improving both here and in the European market. We've been around long enough that we've seen four or five of these cycles in the M&A world," Harris says.

"Everything is getting more global, and the trend is growing for the middle market, where truly any company in the world can do a deal with any other company in the world. We think the London office is very material for us — we've always had great global reach, but having our own people in London really gives us a launching pad for the rest of the world."

When it comes to advisory work in the U.S., Harris Williams appears to have been busy in the final three months of this year. So far this quarter Harris Williams has advised Barker Co. on its sale to Hill Phoenix Inc., a subsidiary of Dover Corp., and it also advised Sunoco Inc. on the sale of its retail heating oil and propane distribution business to Superior Plus Corp. Another mandate involved advising Yuba Heat Transfer on its pending sale to SPX subsidiary SPX Heat Transfer Inc.

Meanwhile, many market participants say they are not surprised that banking boutiques have made inroads or are looking to build a business overseas.

"We're seeing a trend. The bulge-bracket firms became global many years ago," says Stewart Kohl, co-CEO of Riverside.

With London as its beachhead in Europe, the firm has an eye to Asia and other markets.

"We're going to consider expansion past London, for sure, but we're focused on getting the office to a critical mass, a size that we want," Harris says. "I'm sure after that we'll consider offices in other geographic localities."

Find out more information about people mentioned in this article from our People Database:

H. Hiter Harris III Bela Szigethy Stewart Kohl

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I feel that it is Tier I middle market, along with the likes of Stifel and uh...Raymond James, Piper, Wachovia. Definitely a good career choice if you're more interested in the middle market. I spoke with some of their people in Richmond during my summer interview process back in the day (along with a handful of other regional banks) - really nice guys and much more laid back work environment than NYC.

Any thoughts on Robert W. Baird & Co.'s IB dept? It's a middle market firm that I interned for this past summer and will be working for after graduation. The hours might be a little lighter than BB IB operations but its still investment banking so...ur probably at and going to and from the office more than ur at home. I really liked the atmosphere of the MM firm. But that's just one guy's opinion.

Dealflow is best at the Richmond office. There is a bit of a drop off, then comes Boston. San Francisco / Minneapolis still have decent dealflow, just not the mountain of deals that the Richmond and Boston offices process. The Cleveland and Philly offices are Cobblestone|HarrisWilliams, so they are working on generally smaller deals and the deal flow is not as strong.

Exit ops are generally the same universally. Harris Williams places amazingly well into MM PE.

~~~~~~~~~~~ CompBanker

CompBanker’s Career Guidance Services:

Compensation is street level or above street level. This applies to all locations, including those not in major cities.

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Give it more than 18 minutes before bumping.

HW has a good rep on these forums. Strong dealflow (little pitching from what I've heard), hours are about the same as a bulge bracket, solid culture at the junior levels, pay is at or above Street, and as it has been quoted around here, when analysts look to go to the buyside, senior guys will "go to bat" and help them exit. They do a good job of placing analysts into top MM PE firms.