Lazard v. Morgan Stanley Post-MBA

LazardOrMS's picture
Rank: Chimp | banana points 14

Hey guys - will keep this brief. Currently a first year MBA student and was fortunate to receive offers from Morgan Stanley (for the generalist associate pool) and Lazard (choose your own adventure, probably would choose PEI and dabble in industrials) in NY for the summer, and looking for a little input. Most of what I found comparing these two is ca. 2008-2010 so would love an updated look.

Lay of the land as I see it:

Lazard: gut feel tells me this is a slightly better cultural fit, top power and utilities group on the street, marginally higher pay.

Morgan Stanley: marginally better-known brand outside of finance, pool lets me try multiple industries before specializing, slightly better lifestyle as a first year associate.

Any advice/opinions/insight?

Comments (20)

Jan 21, 2018

There's a recent post on this but it's Evercore vs. GS IBD, for an MBA. You should check it out as it's very similar to your situation. I think it depends on what you want to do, as both will give you great exit opps into PE. But if you want Corp Dev or something not related to finance I would take MS. If you want to be a career banker I would take Lazard since you'll be paid more (boutiques pay more) and you'll have more responsibility at a smaller shop.

Hope that helps.

Jan 21, 2018

Sure. What is your goal 5-15 years down the line? If it helps I faced a similar situation but at the SA level, and picked the BB.

Jan 30, 2018

Why MS over Lazard for future exits opps into corp dev? I would respectfully disagree based on my (ableit short) experience in corp dev and experience with the numerous BBs and EBs we interact with.

Jan 21, 2018

From my research on here and over the internet it seems that BBs are more well known and trusted across F500 companies than the newer EBs. Also, due to the fact that you get exposure to balance sheet/financing transactions which are valuable to corporates, that has always been my perception. Maybe you could shed some light on this since you have actual CorpDev experience.

Jan 22, 2018

MS has a top P&U group also with good culture from what I've heard. Personally would not enjoy a place like Lazard. Really bright people but absolute sweatshop. Have heard way too many horror stories.

The only M&A shops I'd consider over MS are Evercore and Centerview. The latter is rough also but at least you get the best compensation on the street. You will hate your life at Moelis / Lazard type places..

    • 1
    • 3
Learn More

7,548 questions across 469 investment banks. The WSO Investment Banking Interview Prep Course has everything you'll ever need to start your career on Wall Street. Technical, Behavioral and Networking Courses + 2 Bonus Modules. Learn more.

Jan 22, 2018

I went through the pool program at MS and then joined their M&A group. I think the larger, more relevant question is whether you want to be an M&A banker. If you go to Lazard, you will develop a fine career in M&A. If you go to MS, unless you place into the M&A group, you will develop a fine career as a coverage banker. It depends on your personality and interests, and most importantly, which you think you would be better at down the road (i.e., 10+ years from now when you are are a senior banker and this is how you put food on the table). During my time at MS, I found that M&A attracts a certain personality and coverage attracts a different personality. My best advice to you is to know which type of personality you are and then make a decision based on that.

    • 1
Jan 22, 2018

Curious since you mentioned it, what type of personality does M&A versus coverage attract?

Jan 22, 2018

Would be curious to hear about the different personalities as well...

From what I have a senior level, your success very much depends on the relationships you've built. These relationships are facilitated by being able to sell multiple products as more assignments means more touch points. Coverage bankers are the ones selling these products to decision makers. They're the ones hauling ass all over the place meeting with this CEO or that Chairman. M&A bankers, at least from my understanding, are brought in when the business is almost won to help close and then to execute the deal. Now, over a long period of time, if they work with the same client on multiple M&A deals...they're able to start building relationships of their own. However, compared to the coverage guy, they will have had fewer "touches."

In my mind, at a senior level, when your success is measured by how much revenue you bring in i.e. the quantity and strength of the relationships you've built up over time, the coverage banker has the advantage.

I suppose one can argue that M&A is by far the most complicated banking product and working on dozens of M&A deals develops a particular skill set that coverage bankers won't have because they were too busy out selling. However, those "skills" can be pretty easily "forged" as it were (probably why every asshole who ever worked in coverage at a BB formed his own "sector-focused boutique" offering M&A advice, a product with low capital cost and high margins).

    • 3
Best Response
Jan 24, 2018

Lazard all the way. Started my career in the BB and would change that if I could. I am in a great place now, but my peers who started at EBs are in a better spot. Lazard (EBs in general) gives more credibility to any candidate who wants to stay in finance. A Lazard associate has way more responsibility and learns a lot more in a shorter period of time. I would argue a Lazard associate with 2 years is much more developed than a similar associate at MS or other BBs. MS will have better recognition outside of finance, but if your goal isn't to work in finance (buy-side, corp dev, entrepreneurship, sell-side) long term then why go into banking to begin with. What you learn and how you can apply what you learn is way more important than the perceived brand recognition from friends outside of finance.

    • 10
Jan 25, 2018

What is your primary concern? Is it culture? Exit options? Level of responsibility? Flexibility in terms of group? They are very different places with very different opportunity sets.

Jan 26, 2018

Lazard does not pay more.

Jan 25, 2018

Well, based on what I know, Lazard is much more sweatshoppy than MS in general. Also, the generalist program at MS gives you a better opportunity to gauge what group you actually work well in vs. direct placing into a group that you may not actually mesh well with when push comes to shove.

Contrary to what others have suggested, you'll get the same level of responsibility at both places (mid-level and senior bankers in general are very happy to let associates run with things as soon as they show that they are able to - it makes their lives easier).

Also not sure what the other person is talking about, but Lazard certainly does pay more.

Short answer - if you want to churn and burn, go to Lazard and get the paycheck for a year or two and bounce. If you want to stick around banking long term, life at MS is probably more tolerable and conducive to building a career there (boutiques in general are known not to promote internally all the way up the chain, they usually poach BB MDs instead of developing them in house). If you're not really sure, you probably get a bit more option value and brand recognition at MS.

    • 5
Jan 26, 2018

Lazard pays street and it's in line with the bulge brackets.

Some of the other boutiques pay more.

Jan 21, 2018

Which did you end up deciding on? Curious.