2020s Investment Banking Outlook

I just wanted to recapitulate some key winners/losers over the 10s in IB and what is most likely to happen in the decade ahead.


10s Winners:
- J.P. Morgan
- All EBs (most prominently Evercore & Centerview)
- Barclays (positioned as only EU bank to maintain IB market share)

10s Losers:
- UBS (basically no BB in NY anymore, lost significant market share everywhere)
- DB (to be avoided going forward)
- CS (went into the decade as No. 4 BB, now losing market share by the minute, even LevFin has seen stronger days)
- Lazard (simply not what it used to be)
- Greenhill (hardly an EB anymore)

20s Projections:
- J.P. Morgan and GS will move apart from MS to form a top 2 with MS, BofA, Citi after that
- Either BofA or Citi will become a strong competitor to JPM/GS
- UBS and DB will dissolve US business pretty much entirely
- Barclays will become the best of the rest after US BBs and EBs
- CS might either reinvigorate their business under the new IB head or retreat its whole platform IB ambitions

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Comments (89)

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Dec 28, 2019 - 4:30pm

Plus Evercore will move into the top 3 of M&A league tables with PJT and Centerview solidly in top 10.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Dec 29, 2019 - 2:15am

Thought PWP would have a shot as well to get into this but seems like they're lagging behind. Wonder how Guggenheim would fare as well.

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Dec 28, 2019 - 4:47pm

Curious as to why you believe JP will jump MS? There's still a big gap between the two and MS in the past couple years proved they can leverage the MUFG relationship to put out massive acquisition financing loans that used to be unheard of outside of JP / BAML / Citi (see Bristol Meyers - Celgene deal). Are you speaking in terms of IB or the entire firm?

“If you ain’t first, you’re last!” - GOAT
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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Dec 28, 2019 - 5:12pm

I think both in terms of overall IB franchise as well as M&A. As an overall platform, JPM is already the clear #1 (not necessarily for incoming analysts but for clients) which will they continue to be as the European BBs will retreat. Specifically, talking about M&A, if you are just looking at league tables, you can see that JPM is often now #2 in M&A by volume and fees. I recognise that this does not translate into JPM having a better franchise than MS as MS will be more selective in clients but is still indicative of positive growth at JPM.

Disclaimer: I am not at JPM and would rank MS above JPM for juniors

Dec 28, 2019 - 6:26pm

Interesting, thanks for clarifying.

I don't know if I would say that someone outside of the top 3 like Citi will be able to compete with MS in IB. The capital markets franchise has gotten stronger over the years.

As an overall firm, Gorman has spent a ton of time balancing out the profit drivers with PWM becoming a huge part of the franchise making MS a very stable bank in the future

“If you ain’t first, you’re last!” - GOAT
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  • Intern in IB-M&A
Dec 28, 2019 - 6:19pm

I would be curiours to get some opinions on how BAML and Citi will fare in the next decade. Will one of them actually compete with GS/MS/JPM in M&A? Which is one is better positioned to do so?

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Dec 28, 2019 - 9:32pm

If you are just thinking of M&A, and not the IBD franchise, BoA seems to be much better positioned right now, growing in EMEA and keeping a solid footprint in the states. In any case, as a whole franchise, Citi will grow faster imo.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Dec 29, 2019 - 6:52am

I would agree that BAML seems to better positioned within M&A (particularly in EMEA where it has been in top three a couple of times) on the back of increased focus on that business by Koder & Co.
Why would you think Citi will grow more as a platform?

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Dec 28, 2019 - 10:36pm

I agree UBS is dead for M&A, and RBC should take their place in the sort of "bulge bracket" discussion.

Also agree with the strength of Barclays, they are essentially a US BB because of Lehman Brothers.

Citi has a tremendous worldwide reach, so I see them clearly surpassing BAML in the near future.

I also might add that I believe Wells Fargo to have a positive future(not dominating US BB but pulling solidly ahead of some MM players, UBS, perhaps DB)

I'm genuinely curious about the future of heavy hitting yet small boutiques such as Dyal - are they "one hit wonders", or do they have a strong trajectory ahead?

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Dec 29, 2019 - 2:14am

Not sure about Dyal (they have Dyal + 1 other MD poached from GS) but Id be more interested in Robey Warshaw. Strong Europe shop, landed a big deal in the US recently, can see the partners perhaps try to expand and open a US market.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Dec 30, 2019 - 6:06pm

Could definitely see Robey expanding given their ability to consistently sign up big deals. Curious to know what role these smaller boutiques (Dyal, M. Klein, Robey) are playing in these mega M&A deals when there are several advisors engaged on either side. I don't doubt their ability to execute, just always wonder how the work is divided

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Dec 30, 2019 - 3:49pm

I agree with Wells, especially considering their new NYC office at Hudson Yards. I talked to some people about what they think of their outlook, and one MD I spoke with compared Wells now to early 2000s BoA, however their strategies for growth aren't necessarily the same as BoA's were.

  • Intern in IB - Restr
Dec 30, 2019 - 11:38pm

Moving office locations does nothing to change your fortunes, just ask any bank that moved from fidi to midtown in the last 15 years.

WF is a balance sheet bank and their relationships will always be driven by the fact that they can underwrite huge loans to corporates. They will never be a premier / BB level advisory shop... and they shouldn't. They are a retail bank and should focus on writing big safe loans to corporates, leaving the more complex / interesting deals to smaller banks who have much smaller scale and more risk appetite.

Dec 29, 2019 - 1:13am

Interested to see what CS does in the wake of UBS/DB disasters and Barclays stepping their a-game up.

Evercore has been poaching BSD's from the BBs like crazy.


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  • Prospect in 
Dec 29, 2019 - 2:02am

As an incoming analyst at CS, should I be worried about their declining reputation in the coming years and how that will affect deal flow? I was under the impression that they were a solid mid-tier BB along with BAML and Citi. Are Sponsors and Lev Fin deal flow still solid enough to land UMM PE gigs?

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Dec 29, 2019 - 2:08am

Juniors don't need to worry much about rep, can guarantee that CS will get looks for MF/UMM for a long long time

Dec 29, 2019 - 11:21am

It is still a solid bank, and will not decline, I would say that it will recover, they are gaining some good deals and are focusing on trying to attract rainmakers

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Dec 29, 2019 - 11:25am

No, you do not have to be worried as CS is still an excellent bank, specifically for juniors and exits. Just as an overall franchise going forward it will probably less competitive than it used to be but I might also be mistaken as they really landed some amazing deals in Q4. Also very curiours to see how the recent leadership reshuffle will affect things.

  • Intern in _none
Dec 29, 2019 - 7:19pm

I honestly think that Wells Fargo is positioned to have huge success in the 2020s. Wells Fargo has a huge amount of assets and will be able to use their balance sheet to hang with the big boys. Once WF gets by all of the regulatory hurdles they currently have, they can look to grow their business again. Also, they just moved their NYC office to the best (and probably most expensive) location in NYC and I believe this is a sign of management of wanting to expand their IB presence. I've read a couple articles that WF is handing out big pay packages to recruit people to their wealth management business and I am wondering if they might do the same with IB. Also, I've heard the culture at WF is great - not a place too many don't like working at.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this or would like to disagree? I would appreciate if any current WF bankers could chime in as well.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Dec 29, 2019 - 9:48pm


I think WF and RBC will be considered "bulge brackets", replacing DB and UBS which have really really fallen off.

  • Intern in _none
Dec 29, 2019 - 9:59pm

I think people on this forum also don't understand how much their IB business has grown. They got into IB when they purchased Wachovia and have used WF to grow their business tremendously. Also, them having a massive Charlotte presence will help attract the older talent who want to escape the tredmil of big city life.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Dec 30, 2019 - 3:54pm

Pasting some of this from another comment I wrote

I agree with Wells, especially considering their new NYC office at Hudson Yards. I talked to some people about what they think of their outlook, and one MD I spoke with compared Wells now to early 2000s BoA, however their strategies for growth aren't necessarily the same as BoA's were. Bank of America seriously leveraged their balance sheet.

With regard to culture, I agree. Everybody I've met at Wells absolutely loved it there. All the analysts I spoke with said that their MDs are incredibly supportive of their aspirations.
For reference, I spoke with some bankers at a declining BB, and they did not have nice things to say about the culture there. I'm not gonna name names, but sounds like douche bag.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Dec 30, 2019 - 5:33pm

What is really the problem with WF is that they simply do not have any track record in strategic IB products. Sure, they might finance some deals and get a league table credit for it but no one would really go to only WF for the expert strategic advice on a massive transaction given the multidude of alternatives.

While WF might be somewhat comparable to Banc of America Sec, pretty much every single large retail bank had to acquire a premier investment bank to become competitive: Bofa and ML, Citi and Salomon, Barclays and Lehman, UBS and Warburg, CS and FB, DB and Morgan Greenfell. As there are no similar targets available to WF, I do not really see them moving anywhere in M&A/ECM.

  • Prospect in AM - Equities
Dec 29, 2019 - 10:04pm

Can you explain why you think Barclays will be the best after all the US BBs? It doesn't make much sense to me as I am based in Hong Kong where it's commonly known that Barclays' deaflow is really weak

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Dec 29, 2019 - 11:31pm

Quote from WSJ on Barclays most recent earnings results:

Investment banking fees rose 33% from a year earlier in the third quarter, fixed-income trading revenue rose 19% and equities trading revenue rose 5%. The strengthening of the U.S. dollar against the British pound provided an additional tailwind to Barclay's results.

Barclays has gained market share in these businesses globally and in the U.S.-a rare feat these days for a European bank. In the U.S., it even surpassed Citigroup's share of investment banking revenue in the first three quarters to become the fifth-largest player, according to Dealogic.

  • Intern in IB - Restr
Dec 30, 2019 - 5:28am

I think the Barclays numbers are misleading- they were very poor last year so the growth this year is more reverting to the norm than extraordinary growth. I'd argue that the news around their IB this year would spell trouble moving forward - will they continue to pour money into this unprofitable business (IB) if activist investor pressures come back in the next year? Tough to say, but I don't see as positive of a narrative for them as you paint.

On the euros, I agree that UBS and DB will slowly retreat from the US IB or perhaps IB in general. CS appears to have restructured at the right time, and could be poised to rebound. When euro interest rates turn around, every part of the bank will.be more profitable, making pouring more money into US IB and supercharging growth more palatable to investors.

Just my 2 cents.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Dec 30, 2019 - 7:30am

I will definitely be interesting to see who among Barclays and CS will come out on top at the end of the decade. It seems that they really converged towards each other coming from other ends of spectrum during the last decade.

Specifically, Barclays' DCM and LevFin looks very strong atm whereas some of CS' former areas of expertise are getting increasingly competitive/CS is losing a little bit of ground.

However, it will be interesting to see whether Barclays is able to build a strong TMT franchise will probably be key in M&A going forward and is currently lacking (primarily lacking Technology). CS on the other hand has always had a strong Tech franchise but has lost a little bit of ground in this space recently.

  • Intern in IB - Restr
Dec 30, 2019 - 9:28pm

Also will be interesting to see how Brexit affects the outcome of Barclay's vs CS over the next few years. Between that and interest rates inevitably rebounding, The European markets are due for a few seismic changes in the near future that may make it easier to run a swiss bank that's part of the EU than a British bank on an island...

While IB is certainly siloed from the rest of the bank, it's easy to forget that the high level decisions made about its future are made by people responsible for more than just IB. Esp at a bank like Barclays where retail banking is their core function. At least at CS the core function of wealth management to UHNW has strong synergies with IB, meaning the franchises will likely grow (or fall) together. Synergies between consumer banking and IB... not so much. This makes it much easier to see a bank like Barclays moving away from IB when times are tough, a la DB, and focusing on their true money maker franchises. Whereas advisory IB (lesser so trading) appears to be tied to CS 10 year growth plan regardless of how tough times get.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Dec 30, 2019 - 2:19pm

Beating citi in IB revenue is a sign that this isnt just reverting to the norm imo. credit suisse vs barclays is certainly going to be something interesting to watch over these next few years; In pure IB, I see Barclays having the edge, but who knows.

Dec 30, 2019 - 8:46am

Thoughts on the true middle market platforms of the M&A world? Baird, Blair, HW, Piper?

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Dec 30, 2019 - 10:05am

I would imagine that they will be pushed to do slightly smaller deals as the US BBs are currently trying to grab market share in the US mid market space.

Dec 30, 2019 - 10:24am
Analyst 1 in IB-M&A:

I would imagine that they will be pushed to do slightly smaller deals as the US BBs are currently trying to grab market share in the US mid market space.

Goldman and JPM have been trying to do this for awhile now. You can't replace many of the sponsor relationships that these middle market firms enjoy as well. Additionally, smaller fees associated with deals sub-$2.5bn aren't sufficient for covering the massive overhead saddled on the largest banks.

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Dec 30, 2019 - 12:02pm

I would say that Baird in the Midwest is doing very well. Have had very good deal flow in the LMM and MM space.

Blair is very strong in the midwest and in recent years has begun to push into the $1bn+ deal range pretty often for a "MM Bank". Talked to some alumni recently in SF who also said that Blair came onto the scene and immediately began grabbing market share. Despite all this, they aren't very strong in NY but have heard the Europe team is doing pretty well.

It's interesting that HL has kind of fallen out of the picture for these discussions, would still say that's a very strong MM franchise.

“If you ain’t first, you’re last!” - GOAT
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jan 3, 2020 - 6:53pm

Have heard horrible things about William Blair SF's culture / hours. Exits aren't bad, neither is comp.

Dec 31, 2019 - 12:17pm

HSBC's future depends on their upcoming restructuring plan. Hopefully will move away from mediocracy and begin to compete for more high-end deals.

Dec 31, 2019 - 1:51am

Simmons has already tanked in the past five years relative to the competition.

"Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry."
Dec 31, 2019 - 5:21am

As an incoming analyst at UBS in London, should I be worried about their declining reputation in the coming years and how that will affect deal flow? I was under the impression that they were a still a solid BB. Is tmt and deal flow still solid enough to land UMM/MF PE gigs in Europe?

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Dec 31, 2019 - 8:54am

UBS London is very different to UBS NY as the firm has openly reduced headcount and efforts in NY while still being focused on the EMEA and APAC regions. In London, it will easily continue to be a BB imo with groups like TMT and FIG probably doing well for a while.

For exits, outside of these two groups (FIG Apollo placement is top notch), exits to strong funds will probably be rare as EBs will become more important. Nonetheless, group and bank in London is still less important than in NY meaning that with the right language(s) you can get a strong exit from a lot of places.

Jan 1, 2020 - 12:01pm

Looking at the deal flow and chat in the market in the shorter term (last couple of years), it seems like 4 big winners have been:
1. JPM - effectively solidified #2;
2. Centerview - competing with Evercore and overtaking Lazard within the EBs (see Factset 2019 league table);
3. Jefferies - essentially the best example of a bank increasing in value consistently [albeit starting lower than the others mentionned, but still very impressive and admirable to reach top 10] (see Mergermarket tables showing impressive gains e.g. 11th in US deal value, 8th globally in buyouts+exits, 6th in UK deal value etc.); and
4. PJT - competing with Evercore with a highly respected reputation (some great hires too which is promising)

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jan 3, 2020 - 6:54pm

Jefferies is good only in select groups. Shit elsewhere.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 3, 2020 - 11:06pm

No group at Jefferies is "shit". They have good groups and great groups. Great groups being more BB-like and good groups focusing on UMM/MM. All groups have excellent deal flow.

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