2021 Investment Bank Rankings for Exit Opps

Hey all, usually hate these posts but after seeing some questionable rankings, I decided to put my honest thoughts on a ranking of investment banks based on what I observed from buy-side placement across the street from 2016-2021. I am NOT claiming these are completely objective and undisputed rankings, but these are just from my observations throughout my time in IB and at an UMM PE fund.


Tier 1a: CVP, Evercore, PJT

Tier 1b: GS, MS, Moelis, Lazard, JPM

Tier 2: BofA, Citi, Barclays, CS, PWP

Tier 3a: Guggenheim, Jefferies, Greenhill

Tier 3b: UBS, DB

Tier 4: William Blair, Rothschild, HL, RBC, HW, Baird

Tier 5: WF, Piper, PJ Solomon

Tier 6: Cowen, RJ, Lincoln, BMO

Tier 7: Stifel, Macquarie, Nomura, Leerink, Mizuho


-Ultimately Tiers 1a/1b have extremely similar exit opps but I definitely noticed (for NY PE recruiting) Tier 1a alumni did better regardless of which office they came from (as in Tier 1a placements were definitely much more diverse and balanced in terms of group/office compared to 1b)

-Tiers 3a/3b started off around the same tier but over the past few years that there's been a clear trend of 3a firms pulling away from 3b firms for NY buy-side placement. The difference and trend is large enough to warrant a 3a/3b, but not enough to be a completely separate tier.

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Comments (72)

  • Summer Associate in IB-M&A
Aug 31, 2021 - 9:07pm

I can see where OP might be coming from, as CVP is generalist across industry as well as M&A/RX, and while GS has no bad groups they certainly have stronger groups that are better represented on the buy-side. Also CVP is the smallest T1 firm so their buy-side placement per analyst interested in buy-side recruiting is probably better than GS.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 4, 2021 - 2:29pm

Cvp is not generalist across m&a and rx. Those are separate. 
edit: they may have changed it I'm not sure. Back when I was recruiting, they came to my school for interviews and only let you apply for one of rx or m&a. 

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Oct 14, 2021 - 4:32pm

What tier would GS Structured Finance (Infra & Project Finance and similar) be equivalent to for exits to regular credit funds? Might have an in with the team

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 31, 2021 - 9:18pm

I would like to hear the argument for both sides tbh. They've placed much better than their tier in the past 2 cycles. Not saying they deserve to be bumped but I think it's worth considering as I feel like they win all cross offers in that tier as well

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Aug 31, 2021 - 9:24pm

No doubt PWP is a great firm and their analysts place well, but PWP has been a rapidly growing firm and from my observations their placements reflect that. My list comes from observing placements across the street over several years, and IMO if you look at average placements across my timeframe PWP is still below T1 firms, even though their placements in 2020 were easily among T1b. 

If you just look at recent history and placements, I'd definitely put PWP among 1b. However, keep in mind that in general independent advisory firms and fast-growing firms tend to be quite volatile, and it'd be a mistake to assume that a firm's current trend and it's current PE placement will hold down the line. Just throughout my time from college recruiting till now I've seen Greenhill's placements swing up and down, matching the firm's general volatility. I think all the 1b firms have shown a clear consistency over a longer period of time in terms of placements than PWP, and that warrants their position above PWP. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Aug 31, 2021 - 9:27pm

Greenhill not that high. Jeffries not that high. Also, PWP on average placed way better into MFs this year and is dominating recently. Pls fix

  • Summer Associate in IB-M&A
Aug 31, 2021 - 9:36pm

I honestly think OP's assessment of Greenhill and Jefferies is pretty on point. Greenhill is pretty small so their per-capita placement into UMMs is pretty good and they also have a HW-esque culture where there's sort of an implicit "2 or 3 and out" culture where management encourages analysts to recruit for buy-side. I've also noticed that Jefferies punches above their weight for placement, probably because Jefferies is such a grind and the analysts get their reps and deal experience so they're pretty well-prepared for buy-side recruiting.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 31, 2021 - 10:25pm

PWP had better placement than Lazard this year 

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 31, 2021 - 10:29pm

This ranking is fine except for PWP. They've been absolutely killing it since being more receptive to exiting

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Aug 31, 2021 - 10:42pm

Perella should definitely be in 1b. Look at their recent exits from this yr:

2 Carlyle, EQT, Brookfield, Oaktree (SS), Bx , Centerbridge, Crestview, GTCR, 2 top HFs, Platinum Equity, KPS, KKR, Softbank, General Atlantic, Apollo, Ares, Madison Dearborn

Analyst class size ~ 21-22

They've been consistently placing into MF/UMM for the last 3-4 years. So much misinfo on this forum. 

Sep 1, 2021 - 1:08am

Folks love hating on PWP for some reason. As someone who didn't work there but had 2-3 friends there, anecdotally they are a fantastic shop to be at as an analyst. Supportive on buyside recruiting and seemingly good transaction exposure though again, all anecdotal.

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  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 1, 2021 - 8:50pm

Not to suck PWP's nuts more, but it is just flat out wrong to have them in that tier given their recent exits lol. My friend there exited to MF

  • Prospect in IB - Cov
Sep 1, 2021 - 9:37pm

Thought on HL's exits? Obs for RX it's insanely good, but how about FAS/PV and CF?

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 2, 2021 - 9:55am

Do you have any data to back this up? The recent Opus thread contradicts this comment completely. Funnily, once again the Barclays weebs strike to not feel too terrible about the shitty brand on their LinkedIn profile.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Sep 3, 2021 - 7:44am

CS just lost like 50% of their rainmakers & their top coverage groups fell apart. their outlook is worse than DB right now but good joke

  • Incoming Analyst in IB-M&A
Sep 1, 2021 - 9:50pm

Like others said, PWP in Tier 1b, but also GS/MS to 1a, Gugg/GHL to 2, and Jeff/UBS/DB in the same tier (3)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 2, 2021 - 12:26pm

Gugg/GHL are no where near mid BBs, and PWP is certainly not ahead. Boutiques are so overrated on this thread. This should be the general order.


2: BAML, BARC, LAZ, MoCo, Citi, CS, PWP



4. RBC, DB, WF, Roth, PJ Solomon, HL etc.

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Sep 2, 2021 - 12:40pm

This is such a bad take. Look at the EB exits from this year (one posted above) and show me the statistics that indicate that mid-BB has the same exits on average. There's a reason so many people go from mid-BB soph summer to EB 

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Sep 5, 2021 - 3:09am

This is probably the ranking I agree with most on this thread. Surprised it has so many MS

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 14, 2021 - 11:40am

This one reflects general street view imo. Surprised its so controversial 

Sep 3, 2021 - 10:16am

The exit opps for junior bankers are most positively correlated with the firm's historical reputation rather than current deal flows. It is about EBs BBs historical reputation, culture, hiring and training process. The deal flows are inherently volatile and largely influenced by addition and departure of key personnel which is not and should not be a measurement of a junior banker's competence level.

Sep 3, 2021 - 12:43pm

As someone who went through buyside recuriting few years ago and is far removed now, can someone please explain why PWP did so well this year? Is the dealflow / experience that much better compared to other top EBs / BBs or are buyside firms valuing "nicer" firms - i.e. firms with that actually care about their analysts, MDs really going to bat for analysts etc. 

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Sep 3, 2021 - 5:08pm

Does tier 7 have any shot at decent PE exits? Or would I need to lateral to have a shot at PE? I have an SA offer at one of these, but looking to ultimately do PE/growth. MF seems out of the question but thinking about UMM or MM

  • Summer Associate in IB-M&A
Sep 3, 2021 - 11:16pm

Qatalyst is a top firm, but isn't really considered an EB in the traditional sense. Generally, industry-specific boutiques like Qatalyst, Ducera, LionTree, M. Klein, DBO (all would be t1 or 2 on this list) aren't grouped with EBs as they are so much smaller and are focused on one or two specific industries.

Sep 19, 2021 - 7:48pm

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