Elite Boutique vs. Top Tier BB

I am deciding between an elite boutique (If I named it, you would know it) and a top BB (not GS, but pretty comparable).

I have offers from both but don't know which path to take.

Can somebody elaborate on the pros/cons of going down the boutique/BB path and say personally what you would do?

Comments (67)

 
Jan 31,2011

So basically Lazard/Greenhill vs MS/JPM? Which culture do you like better, and would you rather have more face time with senior bankers or more brand name recognition?

Honestly, I think I'd probably take Centerview Partners over GS.

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Jan 31,2011

I have heard that the experience at boutiques may actually be better than at bulge brackets, you are more than just a number cruncher.

 
Jan 31,2011

Yeah, there are no specifics here, too tough to tell. Depends on what you want to do, what your propensities are, etc. Did you like the people at one firm more than another? What groups at each firm did you get into? etc....

Personally, all else being equal, I'd go with the boutique, but that's just me.

 
Jan 31,2011

if it were centerview, then that would be very hard to turn down. i've met an analyst there and says that the quality of work and deal flow is phenomenal and also the lifestyle is arguably the best on the street.

 
Jan 31,2011

Is this BB MS/GS or is it lower tiers? Same with the boutique. Is it Perella or higher? A range won't give away who you are... "offer from ms/gs/jpm healthcare group vs. ghl/pwp/centerview M&A"

--
"Those who say don't know, and those who know don't say."

 
Jan 31,2011
nutsaboutWS:

Is this BB MS/GS or is it lower tiers? Same with the boutique. Is it Perella or higher? A range won't give away who you are... "offer from ms/gs/jpm healthcare group vs. ghl/pwp/centerview M&A"

BB offer is from MS. The range you gave for boutiques is accurate.

 
Jan 31,2011

Are there really "tiers" for boutiques? I thought all the top ones are very similar (BX/EVR/LAZ/GHL)

 
Jan 31,2011

this topic has been discussed ad nauseum. do a search, and read this:
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/investment-b...
full disclosure: genghiskhan is an md at a bb, and the vast majority of kids who read this site have a stiffy for "elite boutiques"

 
Jan 31,2011
Socal:

kids who read this site have a stiffy for "elite boutiques"

Who says 'stiffy'? I feel like that's how they would have said boner on power rangers or something.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

 
Jan 31,2011

haha fair enough. so many people on here have a fcuking hard on for boutique banks. they have all "heard" it is a better analyst experience. i encourage these people to actually talk to current analysts at said boutiques and get the real scoop

 
Jan 31,2011

Oh GD you can say the damn name, no one is going to track you down.

Is this for New York? Region can matter significantly for the boutiques so certainly consider that...

 
Jan 31,2011

I'm not sure how useful the advice on here is, lots of college seniors with a few Wall Street guys scattered around. I would try to speak with people already working in banks, etc. to get an idea of the two firms. You obviously have excellent options either way

 
Jan 31,2011

it's pretty simple actually -- a couple things to consider: 1. culture, and 2. what you want to do down the road. if you only want to go to PE, then culture and where you think you'll fit is really all that will matter (elite boutiques and MS both have great placement). if on the other hand you think you may not stay in finance forever, the MS / GS name can get you a lot farther in the corporate world than Greenhill / BX.

 
Jan 31,2011

It really depends on the group; i.e. FIG Coverage Group at Morgan Stanley vs. M&A at Greenhill.

But ceteris paribus (i.e. M&A at EB and M&A / top coverage group like TMT at Morgan), I would pick Morgan. Reasons? Well, it's still a top bulge (GS, JPM, and MS are the top 3), so it's not like you're going into a mess of UBS, BAML or Citi. The dealflow I'm going to guess is going to be very strong. Compensation, while maybe slightly lower than what Centerview guys receive, is still top notch. So what makes a difference? The environment and connections. As a young guy or girl (intern / first year analyst), you'll meet a lot of people your age in your class. If you're in NYC, that number might be around 30-40 interns / analysts. You'll be working crazy hours but will still have time to socialize.

I think people prefer boutiques a little later in the careers, when they're associates and VPs, as they don't wanna deal with too much BS and wanna to sort of settle down. For analysts, though, I'd definitely recommend BB.

 
Jan 31,2011

I don't understand why people like these elite boutiques so much....I'm still in college so I obviously don't know shit, but turning down a BB for a boutique sounds like turning down an Ivy for a liberal arts college

 
Jan 31,2011
foiegras:

I don't understand

No, you don't

"Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America."

 
Jan 31,2011
foiegras:

I don't understand why people like these elite boutiques so much....I'm still in college so I obviously don't know shit, but turning down a BB for a boutique sounds like turning down an Ivy for a liberal arts college

Well you got one thing right.

 
Jan 31,2011
Cartwright:
foiegras:

I don't understand why people like these elite boutiques so much....I'm still in college so I obviously don't know shit, but turning down a BB for a boutique sounds like turning down an Ivy for a liberal arts college

Well you got one thing right.

true. but would you go to cornell over williams?

 
Jan 31,2011
foiegras:

I don't understand why people like these elite boutiques so much....I'm still in college so I obviously don't know shit, but turning down a BB for a boutique sounds like turning down an Ivy for a liberal arts college

I agree. At the same time, plenty of people turn down Ivies for Williams, Amherst, and Swarthmore. While the average Joe won't know about Williams, for example, those who are educated know that it's one of the most outstanding institutions in America. Finally, are you telling me you would take any bulge bracket over Blackstone M&A, Lazard, or Greenhill?

Disclaimer: I don't attend and didn't apply to an LAC because I felt they were too small, but they are great schools nonetheless

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Jan 31,2011

I'd say GS : Harvard :: Lazard : MIT.

I would say whether you choose to go to MIT or Harvard depends on your goal and your "fit" rather than simply which one is better (because which is "better" depends on who you are and what you want to accomplish).

 
Jan 31,2011

it becomes really group specific as you get into the lower tier bulge brackets. for instance, people from JPM tech all go to mainly mm pe funds, but i assume people from JPM M&A place better. however, since group doesn't really matter much for the boutiques, you have a better shot at a great exit. if we are talking about MS, it is a different story and it depends on what you feel more comfortable with

 
Jan 31,2011
 
Jan 31,2011

Are exit opps from MS really that good?

 
Jan 31,2011

yes they are (again depending on the team, but whether you are in GIG or M&T or Tech or M&A they will be great).

though this holds true for LAZ M&A and restructuring or for GHL so tough choice. Go where you like the people better, headhunters will contact you and then its up to you to seal the deal.

"too good to be true"

See my WSO Blog

 
Jan 31,2011

I think a lot of people hear have alluded to the right things. If you want to stay in finance there definitely is a certain cache attached with some elite boutiques (definitely not something to get a hard on for though) For example, if an MD from Lazard joins a BB, the bankers would most likely be impressed (vs. an MD joining from BAML).

That being said BBs are absolutely more well known outside of finance and in many ways will probably open up doors for you that a Elite Boutique wouldn't (example joining a F500 or a Tech Firm/Start-Up). Bottom line is if you join an Elite Boutique the MDs are going to know you and the caliber of most people will be high and honestly from people I have talked with only a few BB (GS/MS/JPM/CS) have the same sort of caliber of people (think about it in a recruitment sense the type of candidates that join these firms).

The choice comes down to culture fit and career aspirations...Also if you want to go to Business School it can be argued joining an Elite Boutique may make you a unique candidate as compared to BB.

Either way well done on the offers.

 
Jan 31,2011

I'd take MS, hands down. Same with other BBs, and rationale echoes what the above have stated.

 
 
Jan 31,2011

Very original topic. I look forward to the discussion.

"After you work on Wall Street it's a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side." - David Tepper

 
Jan 31,2011
Oreos:

Very original topic. I look forward to the discussion.

 
Jan 31,2011
 
Jan 31,2011

i think MS/JPM is the better choice for junior bankers, most of whom are not interested in having a long successful career in investment banking or simply won't make it. top BBs provide far greater optionality in the industry and, more importantly, outside of the industry...not just because of brand name but also due to greater breadth of experience. further, moving from top BB to elite boutique will remain an option permanently at all levels. if you decide you don't like life at MS/JPM, lateraling over to an elite boutique is very doable. moving from elite boutique to top BB is far more difficult at any level.

for those who know this industry is for them and banking is their calling, i think it's totally rational to choose a place like Greenhill over Morgan Stanley. i just think the vast majority of junior bankers are not in this group whether they know it yet or not.

 
Jan 31,2011

Lol you need to pick your comps better. Greenhill has a generalist model and laz is generalist for summer internships. Take EVR unless you can get a top group specific offer at the BB.

 
 
Jan 31,2011

First get into one of these shops..

 
Jan 31,2011

I'm curious about this too. Especially because my preferred market would probably be the SF bay area. It seemed like things out here are a bit less regimented and more about networking. Culturally I could see myself enjoying a middle market bank like a Greenhill or Harris Williams. And in the long run, I'd probably be happier taking a little less comp and doing PE somewhere like Francisco partners or vector as opposed KKR or Blackstone.

 
Jan 31,2011
 
Jan 31,2011
  1. Submit your applications. By doing this you can see if even a single investment bank -- BB, MM, Boutique or Mom & Pop's Basement Partners -- is interested in hiring you.
  2. a) If none of the above shops is interested in hiring you, switch to plan B, C, D, ... , n. (Note that this is the most probable outcome of this exercise, by a considerable margin).
  3. b) If you get 1 offer, take it.
  4. c) If you get 2 offers, take the one you like better.
  5. d) If you end up in the rare circumstance that your 2 best offers are really that difficult to choose between, then start a thread.
 
Jan 31,2011
nauru:

1. Submit your applications. By doing this you can see if even a single investment bank -- BB, MM, Boutique or Mom & Pop's Basement Partners -- is interested in hiring you.

  1. a) If none of the above shops is interested in hiring you, switch to plan B, C, D, ... , n. (Note that this is the most probable outcome of this exercise, by a considerable margin).
  2. b) If you get 1 offer, take it.
  3. c) If you get 2 offers, take the one you like better.
  4. d) If you end up in the rare circumstance that your 2 best offers are really that difficult to choose between, then start a thread.

This should be posted on every "I want this job but I am only a freshman in high school what should I do" post on this forum

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

 
Jan 31,2011

Sadly a lot of people seem to need the instructions.

Hypothetical BS like this thread (assuming based on original post) really gets tiresome after seeing the same topic come up again and again.

 
Jan 31,2011

Lots of discussion at Purdue on BB vs. elite boutique, consider asking here:

http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~ssanty/cgi-bin/eightbal...

=========================================
We are excited to formally extend to you an offer to join Bank of Ameria

 
Jan 31,2011

Nauru, I checked bizzy's profile to see if there was info that would suggest one way or the other whether his question is far fetched (even if it were, I'd probably respond more kindly than people on here have). It didn't really give any background that I could see. It's always funny to me how people seem to think that landing a banking job is the pinnacle of existence on which the entire human race is hellbent on achieving. I say this as someone who has been at Morgan Stanley, as well as a top consulting firm, and now a top law firm. I know a number of bankers who are, quite frankly, flat-out dumb. They got pseudo-decent grades at pseudo-decent schools like unc, uva, etc, and because they were in the right fraternity, they waltzed into gold man with ease. Moreover, I have several friends in b-school right now who are reporting that landing a banking gig is pretty easy right now.

Bizzy's question is not a moot point until after he has choices. Perhaps, like me, he's thinking he would not be willing to go to goldman if goldman asked? Or maybe he's thinking through his stance on these things so he can have an informed answer when someone asks him "why banking and why us?"

 
Jan 31,2011

What happened to the original post?

 
 
Jan 31,2011
DonVon:

http://bit.ly/QgSsC8

This is one of the greatest comments I have seen on this website. If I had any SBs I would throw one your way.

 
 
Jan 31,2011

This is a great idea--this is something I've been wondering myself, but there seems to be a lack of commentary on some of the boutiques other than that they're "top".

 
Jan 31,2011

bearing in mind it is a personal choice, I would probably go with a boutique in this market, primarily because they have less short term questions regarding liquidity/health, they aren't going to be involved in any crazy socialist plots that poison an office atmosphere (I'm looking at you Obama), and you'll be able to leverage that experience just as well if not better (ditto on exit ops).

The downsides of boutiques are lack of a brand name outside finance, and more variability in terms of deal flow and experience. I don't think I can speak to culture or lifestyle, and that is more of a firm to firm comparison than a boutique to bb comparison anyway.

You're right though, it has been beaten to death, and I think both offer great opportunities

 
Jan 31,2011

lucky are the few that have the chance to choose between the two.

 
Jan 31,2011

Right now, with Moelis at #10 for the year in M&A advisory, I'd say that would be the place I'd most like to be right now. Those places can use alot of banks to finance, while a BB might have to let a deal go because they can't finance. If I had a choice between GS and Moelis, it would be Moelis

 
Jan 31,2011
furiousgeorge86:

Right now, with Moelis at #10 for the year in M&A advisory, I'd say that would be the place I'd most like to be right now. Those places can use alot of banks to finance, while a BB might have to let a deal go because they can't finance. If I had a choice between GS and Moelis, it would be Moelis

Moelis lifestyle = the pits. As a graduating senior at a target with friends who interned there, the experience wasn't great, even in the New York office. Ton of hours, w/ work that ain't that great. Go Greenhill, Evercore, or Blackstone instead in terms of similar firms that will (arguably) have 1) better name recognition down the line, and 2) a better ratio of quality of work to number of hours.

Lazard is also great, but not as comparable to the above three firms size-wise. As you well know, Lazard bankers hate it when you call their firm a boutique. :)

 
Jan 31,2011

i would go with a boutique because: 1) they'll still be around, and 2) they'll actually pay you.

who knows if the BBs are going to be paying bonuses next year or if they'll even be allowed to--in this environment, that means that you're going to be seeing the best MDs jumping ship to the boutiques. This is only going to strengthen their franchise.

 
Jan 31,2011

I'd run to an elite boutique if I had the opportunity.

 
Jan 31,2011

I'm going to a boutique - some of the advantages are going to the Christmas party, and knowing that they'll still be around in june. theres comfort in knowing that your bank is well capitalized, and is maybe even opening a new office in the new year, along with picking up some senior guys from the BBs

 
Jan 31,2011

If I had an offer at a place like Lazard, I'd jump straight on it and would at the least be very torn between choosing offers between that and an offer to a group like say Goldman TMT.

The Lazard analysts I've talked to (about 4) have all spoke well of their deal flow even though it has slowed down. Keep in mind that 2 of the people I worked in were in FIG and therefore have been very busy these past few years.

 
Jan 31,2011

i just boutiqued in my pants

 
Jan 31,2011
 
Jan 31,2011

Right now I want the best experience, and with Moelis at #10 only a couple years after being created, I would say this place is pretty sweet. Obviously your gonna get ripped a new asshole, but thats what being an analyst is all about to me. Right now I just wanna get my 10,000 hours of experience, and to me Moelis is the best way to do so.

This is just me dreaming, my offer is at a reinsurance company's new Investment Bank, but that is just my opinion.

 
Jan 31,2011

MoCo looks like they were 20th for full-year 2008 M&A volume.

I think the one thing people are missing the boat on the large BBs are the fact that you do really get a broader experience working at one. You have full exposure to all products and advice, from large private placements to IPOs (I know, not often right now, but still), debt offerings, etc. If you go somwhere like Gleacher, MoCo or Evercore, you are going to get a great M&A experience, likely get paid as well or better than the street, and perhaps have a better work environment. That being said, there is more to banking than just M&A and you can learn a lot of that by going to a BB.

Additionally it really depends on the groups you're going into. If you are passing on GS TMT to go work at Lazard's MM practice because you think you've got a better shot at getting a big bonus at Lazard, you are a fool. Compensation should be the LAST thing you thing about when coming out of undergrad. Working for the best group and best culture you can find can lead you to opportunities at PEs and HFs where you can make over $200k per year, at which point I don't think you'll mind that you ended up with a bit smaller bonus than you would've at a boutique that paid a bit higher than the street.

Not saying don't go boutique, as they have a myriad of advantages. But I think it's a bit of capitulation fear around here that suddenly places like GS, MS, etc are going to start paying people $55,000 a year to work 90 hours.

 
Jan 31,2011
 
Jan 31,2011

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