Lay of the Land - EBs
I've found this website to be immensely helpful throughout college and the beginning of my banking career. I thought I would return the favor by having an informative discussion around the current elite boutique landscape in the U.S. (although EB bankers elsewhere feel free to chime in). I think it's fair to say that EBs are becoming increasingly popular choice for undergrads going into finance, especially at target schools.
For context, I'm a former EB analyst who spent two years there before leaving for private equity. My initial thoughts here obviously reflect my experience, but they're also shaped by my roommates (both former EB analysts now in PE) and college friends who have worked at boutiques. I figured it would be best to group banks into tiers, which reflect my holistic view, but isn't to necessarily say that one should always choose a bank in a higher tier if offered the choice.
: I think on the whole, Evercore might offer the best combination of factors, out of not just the boutiques, but investment banks in general. Compared to other places, it's definitely not a facetime shop, while deal flow is still consistently strong across nearly all verticals. The bullpen (they have a "fishbowl") culture is great for forming bonds with your class and pay is amongst the top. Exit wise, it's arguably the best, along with PJT. A good amount of analysts exit to MF / UMM, with others heading to top hedge funds or credit shops for the RX analysts. Outlook here is definitely positive.
PJT: Another top shop that's continuing to gain share in the space and land on big name deals. Culture here is on the frattier side for the M&A group. The M&A team apparently does a decent amount of pitch work as well, but I think that's part of the growing pains as the shop rapidly scales. RX group is top notch, and both M&A and RX will offer exit opportunities to top. Outlook here is positive as well.
Centerview: If you want to stay in banking, Centerview is the place to be and I don't think it's really close. Their pay is best on the street (analysts making 200k+), solid perks (in-house chef / cafe), and they continue to land a spot on some of the biggest deals, particularly in consumer, media and healthcare. Even the notion that Centerview is bad for exits is a bit outmoded - analysts who do intend to recruit do very well in recruiting. Outlook here is positive.
: I think while the top 3 places have continued to rapidly grow, 't seem the same growth and in my opinion, has lost a lot of the allure it once had. In fact, they had down year in FY19 in terms of revenues. The facetime culture, while maybe not as prevalent as before, is still there. Nevertheless, they do a lot of volume and exits are still solid, especially for the LA group. Outlook here is moderately positive.
: I'm still putting them in tier 2, but Lazard is definitely not the Lazard of old in the mid 2000's, where they absolutely dominated the boutique space. A lot of prominent bankers have left over the years (Gary Parr, Woody Young, Matthieu Pigasse) and you don't see them as much on headline deals. Their bonuses this year were cut (my roommate's bonus was the same in his second year) while I can confirm that other EBs did not do the same. Outlook here is trending down.
PWP: PWP kind of peaked in 2016, when they announced AT&T, and hasn't done much noticeable since then. The fact they had to go through a SPAC to go public and abort their IPO isn't the greatest indicator either of company trajectory. I think PWP is a solid place to go if you are intent on staying in banking, as the culture and pay are very good. Deal flow wise though, the firm is lagging and no group stands out as a top player in the industry with the exception of maybe Rx, who have been on some noticeable deals. Exits are ok, although the analysts who exit to top MF / UMM seem to be strong coming in. Outlook here is flat
: Greenhill is sort of like Lazard, although in a worse position since it doesn't have nearly the same scale. It used to be a dominant player in the mid-2000's, but has fallen of a cliff during the past five years. Deal flow struggles are compounded by top bankers leaving. Surprisingly, the firm still punches above it's weight for exits (I think they place better, per capita, than PWP or Lazard) and they are taking some initiatives to right the ship. Outlook here is flat.
Others: I would, Lion Tree and Allen & Co in this tier as well, although I don't know much about those places.