Banks with best cultures

anyone have any thoughts on what BB or MM banks have the best culture based on personal experience / direct sources?

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Comments (198)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Mar 30, 2020 - 9:26pm

everyone that I know that works at William Blair loves it but everyone seems to come very similar backgrounds. also I heard a lot of satellite offices for the BBs are great but hours could be long

  • Intern in Other
Mar 30, 2020 - 10:24pm

Could you clarify what that similar background is? Another thing I have to add from my networking calls with analysts there is they all are quite intense - not in a bad way though

Apr 2, 2020 - 12:35am

agree with that. heard good things about wells fargo and bofa in charlotte

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  • Intern in IB - Ind
Apr 5, 2020 - 10:01pm

bofa levfin charlotte is a nightmare, way more hours, insane staffin, brutal seniors without the prestige and buyside recruiting of nyc levfin

  • Intern in 
Mar 30, 2020 - 9:40pm

If this is NYC (in no particular order obviously, also can fluctuate greatly based on group):

BAML, RBC, JPM, Baird, Barclays, STRH, Blair, EVR

I'm definitely missing some others but those are the major one's most known for "culture"

Apr 1, 2020 - 1:10pm

I echo the sentiment that it really varies by group. I found that there is an overarching culture at a bank but then the per group culture can be quite different.

For example: The overarching culture of BAML is thought to be a bit nicer, a bit fratty than average. However, the M&A team at BofA has a vastly different culture than the E&P team or the GIG team.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Mar 30, 2020 - 11:22pm

FT Partners has best culture hands down. Nowhere else do you get to work 6-7 days a week on endless cap raises for cash-strapped fintech companies that are too small to be advised by the major banks.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Mar 31, 2020 - 3:06am

It would be hilarious if there were that one analyst (flyby21) who previously posted such an ingratiating post about the firm six months ago.

Mar 31, 2020 - 6:40am

I know you're joking, but Moelis actually does have an awesome culture if you are the right fit for it. Those dudes will work an all nighter then get a paid-for trip to Vegas.

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  • Incoming Analyst in IB-M&A
Mar 31, 2020 - 2:09pm

The culture rep there wasn't due to toxic seniors, it was just brutal hours. Pretty sure that's improved post-leaked email, but hours still aren't great.

  • Associate 3 in IB - Gen
Mar 30, 2020 - 9:46pm

Work at RBC. Everyone is very civil to each other, oddly friendly almost. Being a d-bag or even raising your voice in anger would make you stick out negatively in most groups. Anecdotally, hear Barclays and JPM are similar in that sense.

Mar 30, 2020 - 10:21pm

I'd love to learn more about RBC's culture and how you got there in general. Know this isn't the best networking site, but would I be able to PM you?

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  • Prospect in 
Mar 31, 2020 - 11:41am

What do you think are the best teams to try to network into for a sa (for experience and culture)?

  • Associate 3 in IB - Gen
Mar 31, 2020 - 12:46pm

M&A and Industrials - LevFin was the bread and butter but not a great environment for that. That's what I'd stick to as an analyst. There are other coverage groups that I would consider at a more senior level but they have a massive disparity between the competence of the seniors, who were largely poached from BBs, and the analysts who essentially didn't make it to the upper-tier BBs and elite boutiques.

Controversial
  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Mar 31, 2020 - 11:21am

Barclays - genuine, extremely down to earth, nice people
Goldman - nice, maybe kinda dorky/awkward
JPM - Very mixed, a few ridiculous d bags sprinkled in, heard toxic stories (cussing out analysts)
MS - Nicer, some fun and chill people but still several hardos, semi stuffy
BofA - Solid, nice people
Evercore - wide range, but had some terrible conversations, elitism
Moelis - really nice group of guys without egos, gym rats

Mar 31, 2020 - 10:26pm

From recruiting at Houston banks, all seem to be pretty good on culture (ignoring differing workloads, I'm don't know much about how works at most). Compared to NYC, they tend to have more of a southern and more collegial culture. I also know many of the analysts and interns were in the same fraternities at their respective schools.

  • Trader in Other
Apr 1, 2020 - 1:19pm

Houston banks for the most part are all pretty laid back with similar cultures. MS and Barclays in my opinion were the most laid back and chill people wise. However, each bank had their distinct culture but no Houston bank in my opinion were full of hard asses.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Apr 2, 2020 - 4:07am

Barclays - agree

GS - can be elitist, most people are from east coast schools rather than texas/southern schools, so a very different culture than other Houston banks, quite a bit more elitist than they deserve to be given their place on the energy league tables tbh

JPM - agree, seems like a weird place right now culturally

MS - agree

BofA - agree

EVR - disagree a bit, come off as more hyper type A than elitist

Moelis - agree

LAZ - really nice people, can be a bit stuffy, really sharp team

TPH - very chill, very passionate about energy, gives off Rice undergrad vibes if you're familiar with that

JEF - people who just love to work really really hard, very down to earth and kind

RBC - extremely chill, feels like a close-knit family a bit, Scott Richardson (founder of their very successful A&D shop) is always walking the halls

Citi - very fratty, wide range of people given how big their shop is

Simmons - extremely chill, bro city (but in a good way), fun people

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Mar 31, 2020 - 2:06pm

Heard that the RX group at Rothschild used to have poor culture. Was that never the case or has it just changed after Augustine went to GHL?

  • Intern in IB - Gen
May 24, 2021 - 10:50pm

I signed with the "real answer" for that reason. MDs took me under their wing and cared about me as a person. I am hoping to get the same vibes when I start.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Mar 30, 2020 - 10:23pm

Sophomore here, only going based off of people I've networked one (all NY)

BAML (by far one of the best cultures ever - have spoken with 10-12 people there, all VERY chill, down to Earth, willing to go out of their way)

RBC

MS

Low on culture would be Citi in my opinion. Felt the pressure and stress when networking with individuals there, very uptight, not a personal fit. Others might think otherwise which is totally fine

  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Restr
Mar 30, 2020 - 10:29pm

Barclays is the best for BB and Centerview for advisory based on people in my friend group, both do a great job in hiring the right people. Note: this is only NYC.

Most Helpful
  • VP in PE - LBOs
Mar 31, 2020 - 12:57am

Below is 100% factual:

Goldman kids tend to be culty hardos

MS is fratty af in a northeastern WASP-y kind of way (not an antebellum kind of way)

JPM is meh. Kind of "aw shucks" in terms of their bankers. shame really.

PJT RSSG is nerdy + nice, PJT M&A is fratty + chill

Evercore is fine. Lazard is all kinds of fucked up. Moelis is for hardos.

CS just seems kind of douche-y from my experience. Hard to explain why, just an overwhelming stench about the place.

Nobody knows or cares about Citi or BAML

I actually really like the guys at DB and Barclays

UBS is whatev

Wells Fargo = adorably out of the loop

Harris Williams analysts roam around the streets of Richmond in packs of no less than 8. They were all SAEs at various mid atlantic schools. Fratty in an antebellum kind of way.

Blair and Baird are cool.

EDIT: Cleaned up some stuff above and added ome more below. Probably says something that I forgot about these guys (not sure what though...)

RBC = your friendly neighborhood Canadians. Distinctly not douchey, which is honestly kind of boring

BMO is kids who browse WSO, personified

Jefferies as an institution has a massive chip on its shoulder is home to the worst kind of finance hardo (you all know the type)

I don't think Centerview actually exists.

Lincoln has a bunch of nice Big 10 dudes who have no qualms about working you to death

Really like the people at Normura

Piper Jaffray = absolute clown show

Houlihan has pretty nerdy junior and absolute degenerate senior people. Must be a weird coexistence.

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Mar 31, 2020 - 6:19pm

Filled with rich white kids from Ivies. MS is also known for only taking for a select few schools with some diversity kids from random schools sprinkled in.

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Mar 31, 2020 - 1:34pm

Could someone please clarify what this comment means in regards to JPM? As an undergrad, have generally heard good things about both the culture and performance of the firm as a whole

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Mar 31, 2020 - 6:23pm

they're just average and don't really stand out much. reason why JP does well is because they have so much manpower but their employees weren't your standout candidates or the best and brightest.

edit: lol MS all you want, we know you're going to JP if you MS this

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Apr 18, 2020 - 5:03pm

While I don't doubt JPM may have been "meh" pre crisis, as a current IB analyst I can assure you these takes are sorely dated.

Like all banks, culture varies widely across groups, but I've found that there's a distinct scrappiness at all levels in my own group and the groups I've worked alongside. Seniors are laser focused on continuing to win market share and expect juniors to make insightful contributions beyond just churning pages. The downside of this is of course some long weeks. In terms of talent, the league tables speak for our seniors, and I'm skeptical of the notion that there are any significant differences in analyst talent across top banks (high schoolers reading this - your world may be turned upside down to learn that I've seen UBS juniors regularly eviscerate their GS counterparts). JPM is littered with summa cum laude Ivy graduates and has crushed buyside recruiting for at least the past two years if you want to look at it based on WSO's usual proxies.

I won't claim to have divined the firm of anyone on this thread, but I find seemingly insecure MS bankers often fixate on bashing JPM. This is likely driven by JPM's continued dominance in the capital markets and passage into the #2 spot in M&A. Meanwhile, MS has found itself in the throes of an identity crisis with a feckless CEO at the helm in Gorman. Its juniors hide behind a thin veneer of bygone WASP culture as they scour WSO for opportunities to assert that "it's really still MS/GS and not GS/MS/JPM". Alas, at least MS has generated some nice fees for JPM as it plays catch-up in the retail arena (@ETrade sale).

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 21, 2020 - 9:56pm

GS / MS has always been in the #1 and #2 spot for M&A.

JPM just relies on its balance sheet and now you see insecure analysts coming here to rant about how they are better than GS and MS...

  • Associate 3 in IB - Gen
Mar 31, 2020 - 8:37pm

Bang on for RBC. As an aging associate, I am perfectly fine with the politeness even if it isn't particularly exciting. I will give up some razzle dazzle for not being yelled at by 27 year old VP because he/she's having a bad day.

Apr 3, 2020 - 1:56pm

Their culture is to DIE for

To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Mar 31, 2020 - 2:09am

I think Baird and Blair have the best cultures through personal experience and friend's experiences. Sounds like they treat their analysts and interns as full-time employees who are allowed to ask questions. If entry-level people take advantage of it, it sounds like a great place to learn about the industry

Apr 4, 2020 - 2:09am

+1 Macquarie has a good culture and it's improving

Source: Aussie and a lot of my mates are there

Mar 31, 2020 - 8:50am

+1 to Macquarie. The people I've met there as a market counterparty seem to be quite down to earth, and it seems the people really like their colleagues.
+1 to William Blair. The people there all seem quite nice as well. Down to earth, hard working, but with rounded elbows.
I have found MS, GS and BAML to be far more sharp elbowed. It's not every person, mind you, but enough sharks swimming around those ponds that it would give me pause from a cultural perspective.
UBS and CS seem to be lacking a cohesive culture altogether,so each team is more likely to have a sub-culture that would dictate your experience much more than some overarching firm culture.

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Mar 31, 2020 - 11:24am

Personally thought people at Barclays were the most fun/chill. PJT also but just m&a.

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Mar 31, 2020 - 2:04pm

agree with this, out of the 2 I would say both are friendly/welcoming but Barclays seems a little more chill whereas there is a kind of cutthroat vibe at BAML

Mar 31, 2020 - 12:33pm

Axe Cap

"Full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes." -U.S. Navy General Farragut
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  • Director in IB-M&A
Mar 31, 2020 - 1:41pm

Barclays has the most cohesive and all around best culture out of the BBs in my experience. BAML, DB, JPM have many groups with great culture, but also many with poor culture.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Mar 31, 2020 - 2:07pm

Does Barclays having good culture also mean better lifestyle?

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Mar 31, 2020 - 4:48pm

not op but barclays is known for having the least facetime + best lifestyle from kids I know going there FT. still some groups with tough hours like industrials and tech but that's due to dealflow, not insane MDs afaik. i've heard of groups with good hours at MS and JPM but it seems to be the norm at Barclays.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Mar 31, 2020 - 4:13pm

PWP has an exceptional culture--group of really nice people across the board. Know an analyst who finished his two years and said he didn't get screamed at once. Firm policy of not hiring assholes

Mar 31, 2020 - 9:07pm

HL = Disneyland of banking (M&A LA)
GS = 9;45am - 3:00am insane batshit hell (NYC coverage)

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Apr 2, 2020 - 11:02pm

Houlihan has pretty nerdy junior and absolute degenerate senior people. Must be a weird coexistence.

Nm see above

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Mar 31, 2020 - 9:38pm

All of the below is for RX in NY, don't know enough to speak to other groups. Worked at one of these so only speaking 3rd person to keep anonymous.

PJT: Very good culture, everyone I know happy with the experience. Somewhat bookish / nerdy for lack of a better term. Some of the nicest people you'll come across. No real facetime.

Lazard: Reasonably sweaty compared to the others. Some senior people seem to be stuck in the old-school Lazard culture, which probably drives the sweatiness. All that being said, I have a high opinion of their analysts generally and they seem to like it.

HL: Similar to PJT though people are a little more on the fratty end of the spectrum. Sweaty at times but no real facetime. Have heard anecdotally that LA is worse than NY but somebody correct me if that's wrong.

Moelis: Improving slowly but surely. Still would not be my top choice but it's no longer a place that should hold the stigma it earned it the past.

Evercore: Like PJT but longer hours. Seems to be understaffed at the junior level. People are really smart.

Greenhill: Surprisingly good given that Augustine was known to crack the whip at Rothschild. I don't want to say no facetime but certainly less than most firms.

Mar 31, 2020 - 11:41pm

I got an offer from HL RX but felt like the junior culture was a bit...bland/boring? Definitely some weird vibes too. Ended up going with a mid BB over it because I liked the people a lot more – obviously hard to tell only over interviews though.

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  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 3, 2020 - 11:30am

Baird and Blair are awesome--simply nice, good people.

Moelis is a great group as well, very down to earth, no egos.

Citi is a little more fratty, they hang out together. Fun group.

Lincoln has nice folks, lots of midwesterners, churning deals. Obviously from a work standpoint they don't have the same reputation for time off and stuff as some of the others.

BMO has become sort of a mess. There was a thread on here not long ago detailing some issues.

Many of the other BBs are too small and spotty to assign cultures to, or I don't have first-hand knowledge so will refrain.

Apr 3, 2020 - 2:17pm

Can add some more Chicago names to the above.

  • Goldman - has FIG, Industrials and Tech Business Services (newly formed) groups. Sounds like tough hours, and some of the senior bankers have offices in NYC as well (aka very little senior banker exposure for Chicago juniors). Don't have very recent info, but does not sound like an easy culture. Friend of mine left from there ~1.5-2 years ago

  • Barclays - has a generalist analyst program across Tech, Sponsors and Industrials. Have a few friends who work/used to work there and say that culture is top notch. Strong senior banker representation and tremendous deal flow. Not sure of hours/facetime though

  • HL - has several groups, including food & bev and healthcare. Culture seems to be very group-dependent. Have anecdotally heard that some groups are okay, while others are absolutely brutal. I unfortunately do not have insight into which groups are the luckier ones

  • Evercore - very small office (I believe around 10-15 bankers) and solid deal deal flow. Sounds like a pretty vanilla culture, but others may be better informed. They mainly do industrials deals

  • MS - office is basically done. VPs and up only beginning this summer. I believe there are still some juniors left there, but are slowly being phased out to NYC.

Apr 3, 2020 - 3:39pm

There was a post like last week explaining that banks don't really have cultures, groups do, and yet we still have this question every other day......that being said from personal experience and friends who work in these groups

  • BAML Lev Fin - dependent on deal team but overall ok culture, kind of intense, strong deal flow = LOTS of work
  • BAML FIG - some crazy seniors but good juniors
  • BAML C&R - LOTS of work, and not in a good way....info is a little dated tho
  • BAML M&A - borderline sweatshop, but it is M&A so comes with the teritory, great juniors, a little fratty
  • BAML E&P - good people top to bottom, but a few bad apples that give uncessary work, lots of work
  • GS TMT - massive team, deal flow = lots of work, not the most personable people overall but groups big enough that you'll find your type of people
  • GS NR - see BAML FIG
  • GS C&R - work had play hard, chill people
  • CS M&A - see BAML M&A but more chill
  • Barc. Industrials - my mentor left as an associate 2, 2/3am nights were the norm, he didn't like the seniors, lots of pitches when he was there, dated info
  • Citi M&A - see CS M&A, no face time
  • Citi M&T - sweatshop, great people tho
  • Cit Sponsors - diverse set of backgrounds top to bottom, similar to BAML Lev Fin but much smaller
  • Citi Tech - you're either a fit and you'll love it, or you're not and you'll hate it, no in between
  • Citi Industrials - GS TMT size wih GS C&R culture
  • Citi Power - chill juniors, work hard play hard
  • Citi RE - see GS C&R, laid back seniors and juniors
  • Jefferies HC - fratty lol
  • JPM FIG - sweatshop
  • JPM TMT - NYC has GS TMT size with Citit Tech culture, my friends did not enjoy their time their, SF Tech is a sweatshop and juniors are depressed
  • JPM Energy - waspy

MS, RBC, Moelis - what's been posted already is what I've heard also, unfortunately I don't have any first hand info.

At the end of the day go where you're wanted. If people at a bank like you and everyone seems to want to help you, go there.

Apr 4, 2020 - 8:04pm

Have some friends applying this cycle; what do you mean by crazy seniors at bofa FIG?

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  • Business School in IB - Gen
Apr 4, 2020 - 2:34pm

People say Evercore's culture is strong, and this seems to align with that - great to hear. Assuming this is for the NYC office? Can you elaborate a bit on "definitely not fratty;" does that mean juniors don't hang out after work, and/or aren't overly boisterous, etc?

Apr 4, 2020 - 6:47pm

Definitely didn't mean to imply teams aren't close - especially at the analyst level, people are legitimately friends with coworkers outside of work. Your average employee is a bit more bookish, there's not a 'junior hazing' / (or as much of a) 'earn your stripes' culture, and people generally don't come off as typical "finance bro" (relative to other banks' employees, at least) So yes, certainly less boisterous - probably less crazy stories per capita than most other banks - but at the end of the day, it's still a bunch of well-paid, highly stressed younger people looking to blow off steam, so you can still get your share of antics if you wish.

Demographically, the firm is more female, Asian, and Canadian than most, which may play a role - though the three wildest, "frattiest" people I know at the firm each fit 1 or more of the above descriptors, so what do I know...

Apr 6, 2020 - 11:41am

9PM on average? or on Fridays? Does this mean that you log back in at home to put in a couple more hours?

Progress is impossible without change...
Apr 6, 2020 - 11:45am

M-Th. Floors clear out at 6 or 7 on Fridays. Some people go home and finish up there, but I'd say by 9PM the vast majority of people are done working for the day. Saturdays are usually clear; Sundays a mixed bag but people generally don't go in (even if they have a few hours from home).

If you're on a a difficult / urgent assignment all bets are off, of course.

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