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.

tier 1

EvercoreI 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 PE and HF. 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.

Tier 2

MoelisI think while the top 3 places have continued to rapidly grow, Moelis hasn'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. 

LazardI'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.

Tier 3

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

GreenhillGreenhill 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 probably categorize Guggenheim, Lion Tree and Allen & Co in this tier as well, although I don't know much about those places. 

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Comments (35)

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  • Business School in IB - Ind
Jan 15, 2021 - 4:58pm

Would echo the above sentiment on Lazard. Rx has been huge. I also heard they paid in line with other EBs last year but that was for the associate level. Not sure what this year looks like.

Alan Schwartz has obviously done a great job at Gugg. Their pay is also in line with other EBs, at least for juniors.

Wonder how Greenhill is going to hold up long term...

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 15, 2021 - 5:07pm

In my opinion,

A PJT RX

B EVR (RX or a good group in M&A), PJT M&A, MOE LA, CVP, HL RX (not boutique but RX group experience is similar)

C MOE NY, LAZ (RX especially but idk if it recruits separately)

D PWP, GHL RX

Obviously, all of these are good banking offers and provide a lot of opportunities for analysts. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Restr
Jan 16, 2021 - 3:58pm

Qatalyst is probably the best place you can be if you want to be in tech - even better than GS/MS/CVP/EVR for it (all these shops are still fantastic). I know several people here and the exits are also fantastic. If you want to exit to VC, Growth Equity, or CorpDev at a startup, its already in the bag. Theres a reason why a 60 person shop can consistently go head to head with BBs and EBs for the largest tech deals.

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jan 16, 2021 - 8:56pm

Another reason why rankings suck but maybe cause Qatalyst is 1) too small in size 2) sector specific?

would agree Q is probably the best shop to start if interested in tech

  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 16, 2021 - 7:56pm

Great tiering and details. Evercore probably in its own league and dominate the M&A independent advisory landscape, but otherwise agree with everything that's said. Was at both BB and EB.

Jun 16, 2021 - 11:41pm

Not in the same EB category in this thread. It's strong exclusively in Europe - more like a regional EB

Array

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Jul 23, 2021 - 7:15pm

Even if they're not a US EB, what is their outlook?

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 16, 2021 - 8:44pm

So has pretty much every other bank. They have stagnated in market share and their average deal size is barely above $1b. Much more comparable to PWP/Laz than the big 3 EBs strictly in terms of deal flow/performance. Despite that analyst exits are still excellent and better than the aforementioned banks.  

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 16, 2021 - 9:27pm

I agree here, and I don't think its because PWP has gotten a ton stronger, its more that Moelis and Lazard are not what they used to be and on average are chasing much smaller deals more so competing with the likes of Jefferies and the like for ~1B sponsor mandates. 

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