Official Investment Banking Rankings: Boutique and Bulge Bracket Prestige

This is for IBD in the US (NYC specifically) and as of November 2014.

Bulge Bracket & Large Banks:

Tier 1a: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley
Tier 1b: J.P. Morgan

Tier 2a: Citi, BAML, Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse
Tier 2b: Deutsche Bank, UBS

Tier 3: Wells Fargo, Nomura, RBC, HSBC, TD Securities, Mizuho

Boutiques:

Tier 1: Blackstone, Lazard Freres, Evercore, Moelis, Greenhill, Qatalyst, Centerview, Allen & Co, Perella Weinberg Partners.
Tier 2: Rothschild, Houlihan Lokey, Guggenheim, Macquarie Harris Williams, Jefferies
Tier 3: William Blair, Lincoln International, LionTree, Stifel, Oppenheimer, Peter J. Solomon, Robert Baird, Pipar Jeffray


Most Prestigious Investment Banks and Boutique Banks

This is a compilation of comments on this thread and on various forums. However, it's always important that, for these rankings (as @MrF notes):

"Best" of course being relative and completely dependent on your culture preferences and the type of experience you're looking for.

And when evaluating offers, it's always to note (@ArcherVice) that

Your focus should be on pay, work, location and how you fit with your group. If you aren't going to mesh with your group, it doesn't matter how "prestigious" the offer is, at least if you are weighing multiple offers.

These are primarily US rankings. In addition, these rankings change every year and are to a large degree subjective (they can be based on M&A volume in dollars vs number, or on headhunter reputation, etc). However, tiers can help differentiate the following:

  • Deal flow: both in terms of number and type of deals that you will see. If there is a good deal in your industry group, it is more likely that you will be involved if you work for a BB.
  • Future prospects: First, many employers -- especially those that don't know investment banking as much -- will value a bulge bracket experience, because they don't know what some of the boutique's are doing and how much you learn. Second, sometimes your contacts can be significant. Third, coming out of a BB you are likely to get exposure to better headhunter opportunities and referrals from your bankers to better private equity jobs because of their contacts.


Investment Banking Tiers

  • Tier 1: Best Mega fund and exit opportunities, top in prestige
  • Tier 2: Most Mega funds opportunities, some people take middle market opportunities,
  • Tier 3: Many middle market opportunities ,and still decent mega funds interviews, but not as much prestige and opportunities as above

Top Bulge Bracket Rankings

Includes large banks

  • Tier 1a: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley
  • Tier 1b: JP Morgan
  • Tier 2a: Citi, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse
  • Tier 2b: Deutsche Bank, UBS, Barclays Capital
  • Tier 3: Wells Fargo, Nomura, RBC, HSBC, TD Securities, Mizuho

Top Boutique Rankings

  • Tier 1a: Lazard, Moelis, Evercore
  • Tier 1b: PJT, Greenhill, Centerview Partners, Perella Weinberg Partners
  • Tier 2: Rothschild, Houlihan Lokey, Guggenheim, Macquarie Harris Williams, Jefferies, Blackstone, Quatalyst Allen & Co
  • Tier 3: William Blair, Lincoln International, LionTree, Stifel, Oppenheimer, Peter J. Solomon, Robert Baird, Pipar Jeffray


Senior Thoughts on Best Investment Banks

@mergersandacquisitions78 offers some great, qualitative insights on various investment banks based on his senior-level experience:
Note: from 2014, so things might have changed.


  • Goldman Sachs - still the gold standard in the business. Pay is the best, reputation with clients is still the best, hiring good people is the easiest. The one caveat is that it makes no sense to go to Goldman Sachs as a senior lateral, unless a) you are coming as a PMD and b) you have a very powerful Rabbi. They stick to their own.

  • Morgan Stanley - the difference between MS and GS has never been larger, and MS is more like an old ML. Effective but non-spectacular investment bank that pays their people in effective but non-spectacular ways. Business model driven by strong retail network.

  • JP Morgan - organizationally effective but don't pay people all that well. Well managed but bureaucratic. Great for organizational men. More of a traditional investment bank in Europe than in the US, where it is essentially the old Chemical Bank.

  • BAML - on the rise. Comp is higher than MS or JPM. Very powerful platform when it all works. Can poach easily from MS or JPM when needed.

  • Citi - also on the rise. Stronger internationally than BAML, but a bit weaker in the US. Comp can be very good for strong performers.

  • Credit Suisse - U.S. business has remained surprisingly resilient while Europe has withered. Comp is a bit of a wild card but they manage to pay top people very well, and can attract / hire.

  • UBS - Have really made a strong comeback. The team in Europe and Asia is excellent, and they have hired good people in the U.S. Management understands they need to pay bankers well. Am a big fan of their strategy.

  • Barclays - Not a happy relationship between the U.S. and U.K. Unstable platform with issues paying people.

  • Deutsche Bank - Investment banking business trails fixed income importance. Some pockets of strength but overall, a mid-tier place where not many people are happy.

  • Lazard - still a very powerful name in the business with top bankers. However, there are two classes amongst the MDs. The top guys get paid well indeed. Not, so the second grade of MDs.

  • Jefferies - Attracting lots of lateral interest from the other banks, but not everyone fits on. A throwback to old Wall Street and culturally very similar to the old DLJ. Well positioned to grow. Pays top of the street for those who can leverage the platform.

  • Guggenheim - See Jefferies. Smaller, but very similar business model. Great team and growth trajectory.

  • Evercore - Good M&A business. Deeper bench than other boutiques. Not sure what they are doing on institutional securities.

  • Moelis - This has been a great year, and their business model is very highly leveraged to a market upside. Pay their senior people very well for performance.

  • Greenhill - Lost market share and revenues relative to peers. Not sure its temporary. Losing out on recruiting relative to E / M.

    Centerview - Most profitably of the boutiques, but I understand there are definitely differences in how partners are paid.

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Comments (276)

Aug 31, 2017 - 12:45am

NEW 2017 UPDATED RANKING FROM A RECRUITER PERSPECTIVE (former)
*this is strictly about how many INITIAL Emails and Quality of Buyside shop opportunities you get.
* does not reflect true stats of who goes there but initial conversations

BEST- Mega fund opportunities, always will be small % mm
Tier 1: Lazard, Moelis, Evercore,

">GS,ms

Almost Best- Most Mega funds and start see some people take mm fund opps

Tier2: pjt, cs sponsors, Barclays natural resources nyc, Greenhill, Centerview Partners, JPM m&a

Clearly second Best- ton of mm funds,and still decent mega funds interviews you can get, obv not as much as above. not as risky as below

tier3: JPM (we also didn't look at ton bc of the size of the class)


Third Best- you still got a shot at mega funds but will be 1-2 per group or even none, can be risky here

tier4: cs, Citi, baml

Not as good as Third Best - You get the realization most people don't go to mega funds from this level, and start convincing yourself that mm funds will provide more learning opps
Tier 5: Barcap, UBS, DB, Jefferies, HL bad groups from above like fig, real estate, some niche group


Not the Last - when you get into the mega funds, people will say i always root for the underdog
Tier6: Wells, RBC, BMO, RBS (yes RBC they are same)


LAST: Bairds of the world, small boutiques you never heard of, accounting firm bs, Capital One ib none sense

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Nov 9, 2014 - 9:40am

I like how Simmons & Co doesn't even make your list.

Your focus should be on pay, work, location and how you fit with your group. If you aren't going to mesh with your group, it doesn't matter how "prestigious" the offer is, at least if you are weighing multiple offers. If you find distressed debt interesting, are you really going to tell me working for Houlihan in restructuring is a "tier 2" option?

Stop trying to make this site college confidential 2.0 or US News for ibanks (who ranks based on rejection...), take your circle jerk to the on-campus clubs no doubt devoted to this shit.

Sure, brand names matter for your resume, but so do the bullet points on that resume, the skills/exposure you get while working there and the contacts/network you build. If you're ever the guy that gets 2-3 offers from ibanks, your perception of prestige will be the last thing on your mind.

Food for thought kemosabe.

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  • 1
Nov 9, 2014 - 9:57am

Agreed. Go to the best place you get an offer. "Best" of course being relative and completely dependent on your culture preferences and the type of experience you're looking for.

I feel like all these ranking lists do is make people feel like shit because they're not at a "tier 1", whatever that even means. It's completely pointless to rank the best of the best. Do you know how many people would've killed for a chance to work in ib at all anywhere? This kind of reminds me of when I see people on this site say they're at a "lower tier ivy"... Why do we feel such a need to break everything into classes so that one group is superior to another when all they are is different and all great in their own way?

Nov 9, 2014 - 1:28pm

Yeah. There's definitely some truth in some of these rankings (e.g. Harvard > Cornell and GS > UBS), but the kind of person that obsesses over this kind of thing...probably not a lot of fun at cocktail parties

Nov 9, 2014 - 3:15pm

Yea I get your point to be humble and all but let's face it - those who are on WSO are usually very ambitious college grads who would like a sense of knowing what's "top tier" and not. I mean what you're saying is like "you should be thankful that you are able to attend college when thousands of kids in Africa and poorer nations will never get more than a middle school education!", and I totally get that but like it's just to the general student population's interests to know what colleges "are top tier" and not, just like how those in WSO would like to know the tiers of each firms, based on how they're regarded.

Nov 9, 2014 - 3:12pm

Yeah I get your point that skillsets/relationships made > brand name but this list is just meant to give a holistic view of what tier each bank is regarded at. And yes you're right that if you are aiming distressed debt then HLHZ RX would be a top option but that is very niche and I'm talking more of an overall ranking, than a specific one. It's just like how if you are deadset on biology then probably attending johns hopkins is better than Columbia but that's really niche - brand name speaking, Columbia is way above Johns Hopkins in that regard.

Nov 9, 2014 - 3:58pm

You still missed my point. Your post can be summed up by saying BB > EB.

A ranking system based on prestige is useless. If you have an offer from MS, Lazard and Moelis. Obviously, all else being equal, the BB brand from MS is the way to go. If you are trying to differentiate between an offer from Lazard, Moelis, Houlihan or MS, BAML, Citi. You are going to need a helluva lot more substance and actual information to draw a comparison between banks within the same "tier." At that point, pay, location, exit opps, skillsets/relationships, specific groups etc are going to be the deciding factor. NOT "prestige" or more accurately, your perception of "prestige."

  • 4
Nov 9, 2014 - 11:46pm

monkeyleverage:

It's just like how if you are deadset on biology then probably attending johns hopkins is better than Columbia but that's really niche - brand name speaking, Columbia is way above Johns Hopkins in that regard.

The field of biology isn't a niche.

Dec 11, 2014 - 1:58am

I don't know if you're just slow or lack comprehension but I suggest you re-read my comment rather than skim before you make asinine statements.

1) Use Google if you don't know who they are.
2) My profile clearly states which industry I work in.
3) My only contention toward the "rankings" was they are worthless until you have multiple offers, at which point it's more about deciding where you would succeed (which includes your exit opp goals) rather than a deluded sense of prestige.

None of which have anything to do with a "bruised ego", basically I think these rankings threads are an exercise in mental masturbation and worthless to anyone actually facing a decision.

  • 1
Dec 15, 2014 - 1:43pm

I agree that it doesn't matter if you go work for the #2 vs #3 bank, especially since these rankings change every year and are to a large degree subjective (they can be based on M&A volume in dollars vs number, or on headhunter reputation, etc.). However, I think general rankings (i.e., BB tier 1 vs tier 2 vs boutique) matter for the following:

  1. dealflow: both in terms of number and type of deals that you will see. If there is a good deal in your industry group, it is more likely that you will be involved if you work for a BB.

  2. future prospects: many employers -- especially those that don't breathe i-banking -- will value a BB experience, because they don't know what some of the boutique's are doing and how much you learn. Also, sometimes your contacts at the i-bank can be significant. Finally, coming out of a BB you are likely to get exposure to better headhunter opportunities and referrals from your bankers to better or at least higher-profile PE jobs because of their contacts.

That said, there are some great boutique shops that do a much better job at all the above than any BB, e.g., Greenhill or Gleacher.

Even though the experience may sound better at some of the smaller boutique M&A, merchant banking firms, I believe that the BB experience is still more worthwhile because there is a lot that you learn through osmosis by working for a large corporation in a structured environment that you don't get to experience. After a few years at i-banking, you will probably want to go to smaller companies so you can make a difference, so getting the BB experience early on is a good idea.

Dec 15, 2014 - 1:47pm

not sure about how they rank prestige, but they are around that ballpark i think

It's a dawg eat dawg world.
Dec 15, 2014 - 2:21pm

A Good Indicator to Measure Prestige (Originally Posted: 02/13/2007)

Seems that right now, in terms of "most popular" banks, the ranking table tends to read like this:

  1. GS
  2. MS
  3. ML/LEH/JPM/UBS
  4. Citi
  5. CS
  6. DB
  7. BofA

To make it easy, lets not talk about specific groups but the firm as a general. Yes, which means that we are not talking about CS sponsors or UBS LA or any of that sort. In my opinion, overall firm opinion is the most reliable indicator of prestige.

A good question to ask is this: "If I give you a GENERAL offer for X firm vs that of Y firm, which would you choose, based on your impression of the firm?"

For example, I think if you give someone a general firm offer of Citi and CS, most people would choose Citi.

Similarly, if you offer someone a ML and Citi offer, most people would choose ML.

It only really starts to get hard when people are given choices of JPM vs ML vs LEH vs UBS. Many people see these firms on the same field.

Hopefully, this entry provides some insights on overall firm branding and prestige.

Dec 15, 2014 - 2:22pm

Alot of this talk about prestige is boring and redundant. It also seems to be perpetually instigated by college juniors and seniors who are playing multiple hypothetical (and I stress hypothetical...read: UBS LA vs. GS TMT) scenerios out in their head. I think you'll find that no matter what top 10 bank you get into, once you start working noone will scoff at where you work. Because at the end of the day certain banks may be having better years than others, or certain groups may be stronger than others in the same sector, but we're all doing the same work, competing for the same deals, and probably for the most part competing for the same buyside jobs. In that case, the individual matters much more than the group/bank.

Yes, I know GS is obviously a better bank than BofA, or UBS LA will trump alot of other similar groups, but who really cares? I would never look down on someone that chose BofA or Bear over other "better" offers if he/she thought the fit was exceptional.

Dec 15, 2014 - 2:23pm

Agreed. To those of us who've been around for at least a few months, this discussion is tired. Wish we could move beyond it, honestly.

Dec 15, 2014 - 2:25pm

That's about right, but usually GS isn't held in much higher regard than MS (might be biased here).

Bullish:
Seems that right now, in terms of "most popular" banks, the ranking table tends to read like this:
  1. GS
  2. MS
  3. ML/LEH/JPM/UBS
  4. Citi
  5. CS
  6. DB
  7. BofA

To make it easy, lets not talk about specific groups but the firm as a general. Yes, which means that we are not talking about CS sponsors or UBS LA or any of that sort. In my opinion, overall firm opinion is the most reliable indicator of prestige.

A good question to ask is this: "If I give you a GENERAL offer for X firm vs that of Y firm, which would you choose, based on your impression of the firm?"

For example, I think if you give someone a general firm offer of Citi and CS, most people would choose Citi.

Similarly, if you offer someone a ML and Citi offer, most people would choose ML.

It only really starts to get hard when people are given choices of JPM vs ML vs LEH vs UBS. Many people see these firms on the same field.

Hopefully, this entry provides some insights on overall firm branding and prestige.

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Dec 15, 2014 - 2:29pm
bb.MandA.3rdyear:
That's about right, but usually GS isn't held in much higher regard than MS (might be biased here).

Disagree. Morgan Stanley has been sinking. Obviously this won't affect the exit opps of current analysts or analysts in the near future, but 5 years down the road...

I'd say Goldman is king. The only reason not to go there would be absolutely hating the people (I personally would still go though and just put up with it) or wanting to work for a smaller firm (and thus choosing a Blackstone M&A etc. offer). For MS, I think the decision is more hazy..I'd consider some other top places like Greenhill, Blackstone, Lazard, CS LA/UBS LA on par.

Dec 15, 2014 - 2:26pm

Let me get this straight and I would really appreciate all the help that's available from you guys.

When a client is considering whether to hire Firm X or Firm Y for M&A advisory or financing needs, do they look at: (1) Prestige; or (2) Competitive strengths in the areas of need?

Personally, I think this forum constantly over analyzes this "prestige" factor of firms. Yes, you might argue that a Goldman Sachs would be better than a BofA; however, when it comes to the top 5, does it really make THAT much of a difference to a client? I'm not on any board of directors or on any executive team, but I surmise that when the bankers and CEOs of the respective ibanks look at their fiscal year end, they don't measure how much "prestige notches" they increased this year; it's simple as: league tables and revenue. I do admit, however, that most of the times the so-called "prestige" factor coincides with actual financial performance.

The bottom line that I'm trying to get at is this. It seems that only prospective entry-level job seekers (aka. students) in the ibanking industry fuss over this prestige factor day-and-night. If senior bankers use "prestige" as a measuring stick to gauge whether they want to work for a firm or not, all senior guys would be working for your GS/MS and nobody would be working for ML/LEH/JPM/UBS. Finally, at the senior level, your asset is YOUR OWN REPUTATION in the industry and not so much the firm's.

So, it seems that:
(1) Clients don't care about prestige (they care about execution strengths);

(2) Senior bankers don't care about prestige (they care about growing and protecting their own reputation in the industry);

(3) Board of directors and the executives don't care about prestige (they care about revenue and league tables)

So who's the remaining player in this "prestige game"? Yes -- prospective entry-level (aka. student) job seekers. And while most of us on this forum belong to this category, but on a macro perspective, we aren't exactly at the top of the totem pole.

In all, I could be wrong and I would appreciate anyone to point out any fallacies in my argument. Any constructive criticism is welcomed!

Dec 15, 2014 - 2:28pm

I think it is quite clear that by market cap, the largest "financial institutions / banks" in the world are (in no order as they change around): Bank of America, Citigroup, HSBC, and recently ICBC.

I think the focus of this discussion revolves around Investment Banks and hence the name of this forum is called www."I"bankingoasis.com and not www."C"bankingoasis.com.

And finally -- I have been to NYC numerous times.

Dec 15, 2014 - 2:33pm
bb.MandA.3rdyear:
I chose MS over GS due to pure product focus.

I chose another bank over GS due to product focus and fit too. MS and GS are equally prestgious especially when talking about MS M&A and FSG etc.

  • 1
Dec 15, 2014 - 2:31pm

Let me go through your claims one by one.

1) Clients don't care about prestige (they care about execution strengths)

They do. Think of an IPO. If it is a large client, they would like the best bank to lead the deal, aka Goldman. Having a reputable bank lead the deal provides them with comfort and assurance that the deal would go well. Imagine if you were a CEO, wouldn't you like a prestigious bank to represent you? I would.

(2) Senior bankers don't care about prestige (they care about growing and protecting their own reputation in the industry)

They do. Senior bankers are ALL about prestige. This industry - banking, seems to care deeply (more than necessary sometimes) about prestige. Banking commands the best, brightest, hungriest and most ambitious individuals. Basically, banking commands people who like and want to win. A senior banker, aka one who has been in this industry for at least 12 years, should exhibit these traits. It is true that they care about their reputation, but reputation comes in the form of the deals they do, the title that they have (e.g. global head of M&A vs regional head of M&A), and the firm they work for. And the firm they work for has to be a winner, cause their fortunes are tied to the winner. With that said, how can you claim that firm prestige don't matter to senior bankers?

(3) Board of directors and the executives don't care about prestige (they care about revenue and league tables)

They do. Put it simply, would you prefer to be a director of Goldman, or the director of Rabobank? I don't know about you, but I would choose Goldman.

BOTTOMLINE: Everyone cares about prestige, even for the firm they work for. This game is not just for prospective analysts, but everyone in this industry. We may hate this game, and find it shallow, but in this industry, hubris and pride is taken to a whole new level.

Dec 15, 2014 - 2:34pm

OK hold up here guys.

Let's not push it to extremes. I'm not comparing Goldman Sachs to Rabobank. I'm comparing say Goldman Sachs vs. Morgan Stanley; Goldman Sachs vs. Merrill Lynch at the senior level. My comparisons revolves around the top five.

QUOTE:
"They do. Think of an IPO. If it is a large client, they would like the best bank to lead the deal, aka Goldman. Having a reputable bank lead the deal provides them with comfort and assurance that the deal would go well. Imagine if you were a CEO, wouldn't you like a prestigious bank to represent you? I would."

RESPONSE: Isn't that execution strength by definition? Clearly, if the client wants to do an IPO they would look for Goldman Sachs first before Rabobank because they know Goldman has the execution capability. Put it this way, and all else being equal, do you think the client would care that much whether GS or Citi do the deal for them as long as the money is there for them?

QUOTE: They do. Senior bankers are ALL about prestige. This industry - banking, seems to care deeply (more than necessary sometimes) about prestige. Banking commands the best, brightest, hungriest and most ambitious individuals. Basically, banking commands people who like and want to win. A senior banker, aka one who has been in this industry for at least 12 years, should exhibit these traits. It is true that they care about their reputation, but reputation comes in the form of the deals they do, the title that they have (e.g. global head of M&A vs regional head of M&A), and the firm they work for. And the firm they work for has to be a winner, cause their fortunes are tied to the winner. With that said, how can you claim that firm prestige don't matter to senior bankers?

RESPONSE: Again, let's not push things to extremes here. Do you think the regional / global head of M&A of ML is hitting up the headhunters on a daily basis to see if there's an opening for the GS regional / global head position? Let's not also forget the chicken-and-egg dilemma here. Is it the prestige of the firm that attracts people to it? Or the reputation of the people as a whole make the firm prestigious?

QUOTE: They do. Put it simply, would you prefer to be a director of Goldman, or the director of Rabobank? I don't know about you, but I would choose Goldman.

RESPONSE: Again, let's not push it to extremes here.

BOTTOM LINE: I know everybody cares about prestige and I think that is very obvious to many members of this board. But the over-analysis of "prestige" (which by the way, is by large a subjective measure vs. an objective measure like league tables, dollar revenue, share price, etc) on this board is ridiculous.

Dec 15, 2014 - 2:35pm

On the note of board of directors, I thought it would be interesting to make this comparison. I'll be deliberately single-minded on this analysis so for the intelligent readers out there, please excuse me.

According to Bullish's analysis, Goldman Sachs is ranked #1 on his prestige scale and Bank of America is ranked at #7.

So if you're given an option to either be on the board of Bank of America or Goldman Sachs, which one would it be?

In your own words, "Senior bankers are ALL about prestige. This industry - banking, seems to care deeply (more than necessary sometimes) about prestige." By this logic, you must choose Goldman Sachs.

OK that's interesting. How's this for a bit more information:

(1) NYSE: GS market cap @ $87.43 billion
(2) NYSE: BAC market cap @ $239.54 billion

(Source: Yahoo!Finance)

Last time I checked, BAC is almost 3x larger than GS and it is the world's largest financial / bank institution.

I don't know about you Bullish, but I would much rather take the director job at BAC than GS for these reasons that you have cited yourself:

(1) Prestige -- I think 239 is a lot larger than 87
(2) Best and brightest -- what is more best and more brighter than the world's largest financial bank institution

Dec 15, 2014 - 2:45pm

This is the stupidest respose I've ever seen.

So you're saying due to BAS' commercial bank and retail bank it's more prestigious? That is the end conclusion since your argument is based on market cap.

somecdndude:
On the note of board of directors, I thought it would be interesting to make this comparison. I'll be deliberately single-minded on this analysis so for the intelligent readers out there, please excuse me.

According to Bullish's analysis, Goldman Sachs is ranked #1 on his prestige scale and Bank of America is ranked at #7.

So if you're given an option to either be on the board of Bank of America or Goldman Sachs, which one would it be?

In your own words, "Senior bankers are ALL about prestige. This industry - banking, seems to care deeply (more than necessary sometimes) about prestige." By this logic, you must choose Goldman Sachs.

OK that's interesting. How's this for a bit more information:

(1) NYSE: GS market cap @ $87.43 billion
(2) NYSE: BAC market cap @ $239.54 billion

(Source: Yahoo!Finance)

Last time I checked, BAC is almost 3x larger than GS and it is the world's largest financial / bank institution.

I don't know about you Bullish, but I would much rather take the director job at BAC than GS for these reasons that you have cited yourself:

(1) Prestige -- I think 239 is a lot larger than 87
(2) Best and brightest -- what is more best and more brighter than the world's largest financial bank institution

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Dec 15, 2014 - 2:39pm

Size is not correlated with prestige. Some of the best companies are not large in size and are privately owned.

Who would you rather work for

company woth 1 mln and has 1000 employees and share holders. each employee gets less then $1000
or
company worth 800k and 20 employees$40k each.

Thats why a lot of people wanted to work for GS was privately owned and gave big bonuses, therefore attracted the best hence most prestigious. Has recently lost its edge and other have caught up. Still gives the best bonus but many prefer to work for Blackstone, Greenhill in M&A and hedge funds for trading

Dec 15, 2014 - 2:40pm

Arguing that there is no difference between banks is pretty silly. First of all, keep in mind that most of the prestige/"which is better" questions are being asked by people about to enter the industry. Whether or not people actually have the offers they claim is another matter, but I don't see any reason for people to lie on an anonymous board.

So take this situation for instance. The person asking the question would be a junior, about to enter the investment banking industry. They may have offers from 2 or 3 firms in the top 10, and are trying to decide which one to go to. Now I agree that to the people that are already working in the industry, the prestige or rankings of the firms probably don't matter, but as someone who had to make the decision of which firm to choose between 3 good firms, it is very important.

The reason us prospectives with offers post here about the offers is not to brag. We worked very hard to get these offers, and now that we have them in hand, we want to compare them and go to the best firm possible. Granted, to people already in the industry, Lehman vs. JPM probably sounds like a silly argument. Who cares, right? Well, how about the person about to make a decision that could determine where they work for the next 2+ years?

So to end this long-winded response, I don't imagine anyone actually working in banking actually puts up these "Which is better?" threads. It is (hopefully) the people with the offers that want to compare them before making a decision, and as someone who was in this situation not too long ago, it really helps to get feedback from people on the perception on firms, or even just reassurance that our top choice is a good one.

Dec 15, 2014 - 2:47pm
streetluck:
Arguing that there is no difference between banks is pretty silly. First of all, keep in mind that most of the prestige/"which is better" questions are being asked by people about to enter the industry. Whether or not people actually have the offers they claim is another matter, but I don't see any reason for people to lie on an anonymous board.

So take this situation for instance. The person asking the question would be a junior, about to enter the investment banking industry. They may have offers from 2 or 3 firms in the top 10, and are trying to decide which one to go to. Now I agree that to the people that are already working in the industry, the prestige or rankings of the firms probably don't matter, but as someone who had to make the decision of which firm to choose between 3 good firms, it is very important.

The reason us prospectives with offers post here about the offers is not to brag. We worked very hard to get these offers, and now that we have them in hand, we want to compare them and go to the best firm possible. Granted, to people already in the industry, Lehman vs. JPM probably sounds like a silly argument. Who cares, right? Well, how about the person about to make a decision that could determine where they work for the next 2+ years?

So to end this long-winded response, I don't imagine anyone actually working in banking actually puts up these "Which is better?" threads. It is (hopefully) the people with the offers that want to compare them before making a decision, and as someone who was in this situation not too long ago, it really helps to get feedback from people on the perception on firms, or even just reassurance that our top choice is a good one.

While I understand that prestige can be important, I think it's even more important, especially for juniors, to focus on which bank they feel is the best fit for them, and where they think they will learn the most. People who have been in the industry for years are trying to give you valuable advice, so why don't you trust them? They are telling you prestige doesn't matter for a reason, prestige doesn't really matter. Honestly, the top 5 BBs are most likely working on the same deals.

And if everyone was so concerned on "which bank is the most prestigious?" then the majority of bankers on this forum would be working at Goldman (assuming they got offers). I know plenty of people who turned down Goldman offers, because they liked the culture better at other banks. So instead of focusing so much on prestige, focus on which bank is the best fit for you, because like you said, this is where you will be working (about 100 hours a week) for the next 2+ years.

Dec 15, 2014 - 2:41pm

Also depends on division etc. GS is the better for M&A but this may not be the case for Markets. In some jobs doesn't make a difference go for the best name. But if your role varies eg you are doing spot at GS or a commodities at barcap. Go for Barcap commodities better product and barcap is top for it

Dec 15, 2014 - 2:58pm

Those rankings for IBD look pretty messed up to me, also. I'd go more with:
1) GS
2) MS/Laz/Rothschild
3) DB/JPM
4) ML/Citi/CS/UBS
5) Lehman/Barclays/HSBC
etc.

I'd say it's arguable that Lazard and Rothschild are more desirable than GS..depends on the person. Rothschild, although fairly weak in the US, is a European powerhouse. No one wants to work for ML/JPM/LEH over them, except maybe someone hoping to transfer to the US after 2 years. Also, Lehman in Europe sucks. It's nowhere near as good in EU as it is in the US. Also, Barclays in EU is much better than in US..I'd say it could be moved up into category 4 in the above group even.

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:31pm
dav3100:
Those rankings for IBD look pretty messed up to me, also. I'd go more with:
1) GS
2) MS/Laz/Rothschild
3) DB/JPM
4) ML/Citi/CS/UBS
5) Lehman/Barclays/HSBC
etc.

I'd say it's arguable that Lazard and Rothschild are more desirable than GS..depends on the person. Rothschild, although fairly weak in the US, is a European powerhouse. No one wants to work for ML/JPM/LEH over them, except maybe someone hoping to transfer to the US after 2 years. Also, Lehman in Europe sucks. It's nowhere near as good in EU as it is in the US. Also, Barclays in EU is much better than in US..I'd say it could be moved up into category 4 in the above group even.

Personally, the only banks I would go to over ML in Europe are GS, MS, and Lazard. Definitely not Rothschild or JPM.

Dec 15, 2014 - 2:59pm

Dav3100 i agree on Laz/Roths, I know people who turn down GS/MS for them. I would never put Lehman that far down, their brand equity is strong. Though it does seem like I was wrong on DB. From reading this forum it seems like there is much more emphasis on getting an MBA stateside than in europe...my closest mates in banking went straight from analyst to associate.

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:00pm

No offense dav3100 but you aren't even in europe.

Before I start I just to reiterate that this thread is based on 'where graduates seem to want to work'.

In oxbridge/lse people respect Lazard but there is very little respect for roths.

People respect DB capital markets but there less respect for db ibd - its prestige is below its league tables rank as its been very high in the uk and europe league tables recently.

Conversely the prestige of lehman ibd is well above its league table position. In general oxbridge/lse students place a premium on BB status.

For students at oxbridge/lse the ranking goes something like this:

1.GS/MS

2.ML/LAZ/JPM
3.Citi/LEH
4.UBS/CS

5.DB/ROTH

6.DrKW/ABN/BEAR/HSBC

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:02pm

I wonder why DB prestige is not higher given its performance lately. Tallon, i agree with your assessment other than roths. The negativity might be due to the old school reputation, but few people i know deny the quality there.

BofA...not as highly regarded as UBS/Citi and the rest. I would place BofA with Barclays(which is on the rise)/bear, though definitely above HSBC. student22, are you oxbridge/lse?

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:08pm

small potatoe, I think your list is the most accurate so far, particularly in sticking UBS and DB much further up the list. I'd stick JPM and ML in position 2 as well.

I personally don't see why people are placing Lehman so high, nobody I know was in the slight bit interested in them vs other banks, and I certainly don't follow the BB argument as we are talking about Europe. As for Lazard, Rothschild, etc, tallon123 is definately right in saying most people would choose a BB over them when it came to a final decision (I for one did).

student22 is neither oxbridge or lse, at least I sincerely hope they don't let in people who make grammatical mistakes like 5 persons (another of his posts).

  • 3
Dec 15, 2014 - 3:09pm
Oconnor:

student22 is neither oxbridge or lse, at least I sincerely hope they don't let in people who make grammatical mistakes like 5 persons (another of his posts).

Neither Oxbridge NOR LSE. Nothing worse than criticizing someone's grammar while making another grammatical mistake! Although I must admit Student22's was far more flagrant than yours.

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:10pm

Fair enough :) I'm sure there are tonnes of mistakes throughout my posts as I don't pay too much attention when posting on the net. My point was that the 5 persons mistake is one nobody with a decent grasp of English would ever make.

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:11pm

My knowledge of European Bank prestige is very limited, so forgive me if this seems like a dumb question. It seems you are only talking about schools in England. Does this also mean that you're only talking about prestige in England/London or is the prestige the same throughout Europe?

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:12pm

A lot of European IBD is based in London, there are only smallish regional offices in other European cities (except for the HQs of non-US/UK banks).

So a) this has a strong "weighting" effect on prestige at unis throughout Europe, b) a lot of european students want to do IB in London for the same reasons americans want NY.

Banks will also more sought after with their home country students than other europeans of course.

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:13pm

small potatoe your list has several shortcomings:

1) as already noted it excludes JPM and ML
2) UBS is placed in the same tier as GS, MS - UBS is most definitely nowhere near these other two banks
3) ABN>LEH lol!!!
4) Barcap is not respected for IBD. Yes its capital markets is good, but from what I've heard they have an extremely limited corp fin practice.

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:26pm
tallon123:
small potatoe your list has several shortcomings:

1) as already noted it excludes JPM and ML
2) UBS is placed in the same tier as GS, MS - UBS is most definitely nowhere near these other two banks
3) ABN>LEH lol!!!
4) Barcap is not respected for IBD. Yes its capital markets is good, but from what I've heard they have an extremely limited corp fin practice.

yeah JP and ML slipped my mind and should be in Tier 2.

In regards to my shortcomings, I guess you didn't read properly, I said my 'uni or REGION' ...so maybe this would help clarify my stance more.

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:15pm
runtothehills:

No one actually gives a rats shit if you are MS or JPM. GS is the only company that carries any weight and even then its still very minor.

At my uni (think oxbridge/LSE), GS/MS are definitely in a higher tier than the rest of the "bulge bracket," though GS has an edge. I think in general though any BB is well respected and brits/europeans are less obsessed with GS.

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:24pm

everybody has their own opinions and each bank has something going for it. If you're really smart, really hard working, and really good, you will be successful in the long run whether you start at Lazard or Lehman or Goldman Sachs.

Banking is a tough field to get into. Even if you do everything right, you still might not get an offer at a certain bank because you don't "gel" with the interviewer. So before you get all wound up with this kind of "I would work for Merrill Lynch, but I wouldn't work for Rothschild" crap. JUST GET YOUR FOOT IN THE DOOR SOMEWHERE...who cares if it's HSBC or BofA.

It's ok to have goals and targets, but it's not the end of the world if you don't work at Goldman Sachs. I know plenty of people in great PE and HF gigs out of HSBC, BofA, and the like.

There's variation in that certain groups might be really, really strong at bank with "lower prestige"...it happens. There are plenty of non-prestige factors that you could argue are more important in choosing the right place for you.

I know at 20 years old, your analyst job seems like everything to you (I was the same way). It's something tangible and concrete that you can work towards. However, none of you really know what you want 20 years from now, so it's hard to work towards.

There's a long term, big picture that one day you will see. And you will realize that your first job, while important, is not NEARLY as significant as you are all worrying about.

Get the best job you can (even if it is not banking), work as hard as you can, learn as much as you, network as much as you can, stay ambitious, and I promise you, you will be fine.

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:32pm
Alexey Kirilov:

There's variation in that certain groups might be really, really strong at bank with "lower prestige"...it happens.

anyone have insight on strong groups in London/Europe instead of just general ibd prestige?

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:27pm

Was I really the only one that really, really wanted BofA? Hehe. Good thing I didn't start reading IB forums until after I got my job.

If you're 18,19,20,21,22, whatever......make up your own mind about where YOU want to be. Might make it just that much easier to convince the interviewer that it's the place for you.

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:29pm

Definately true about convincing the interviewer, there was a direct correlation between where I got offers and the places I wanted to work vs the ones I put down because they were part of the BB/to hedge my bets. At the time I didn't realise but thinking back my desire to work at certain places shone through much more as it was genuine.

  • 1
Dec 15, 2014 - 3:30pm

My experience was very similar to Oconnor, got offered everywhere I wanted to work, rejected at the places that I was not keen on working for.

I hear americans have only interviews, and not full assessment centres? It seems too subjective that way.

Nov 9, 2014 - 5:37pm

This is probably the best thread of I've seen on this site about this topic: http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/blog/david-and-goliath-the-boutique-and-…

Specifically I've always liked @"Nouveau Richie"'s post and breakout:

Bulge Bracket: GS, MS, JPM, Barclays, CS, DB, Citi, BAML, UBS
Tier-2 Balance Sheet Shops: Wells Fargo, HSBC, Nomura, SocGen, BNP, etc.
Global Independent Advisory Firms: Evercore, Lazard (Frères), Blackstone, Rothschild, Greenhill, Moelis, etc.
Elite Boutiques: Centerview, Allen, Qatalyst, PWP, Guggenheim (yes, really), etc.
Full-Services Middle Market: Jefferies, HLHZ, Stifel, RBC, William Blair, Baird, Piper Jaffray, etc.
Middle Market Independent Advisory: Harris Williams, Sagent, Lazard (Middle Market), etc.
Fake Banks/Valuation Shops: Duff & Phelps, KPMG Advisory, PwC M&A, etc.
Specialists: Financial Technology Partners, Greentech Capital Partners, etc.
True Boutiques: (Places with a few offices or less, 100 employees or less, etc.)

Sure in general GS/MS/JPM are the top BB's but there are top groups in the Tier 2a/b that people will take over certain groups at those banks. People (specifically looking at students and those trying to break in) need to realize that different investment banks do different things, have different strategies, and serve different markets. The listing in this post is probably the best breakdown of bank's differences but in a vacuum you can't say every offer at BAML is better than Guggenheim or something to that affect. To say otherwise shows a lack of understanding about how the industry/exit ops/career paths work.

Nov 9, 2014 - 9:45pm

Quaneaser:

This is probably the best thread of I've seen on this site about this topic: //www.wallstreetoasis.com/blog/david-and-goli...

Specifically I've always liked @Nouveau Richie's post and breakout:

Bulge Bracket: GS, MS, JPM, Barclays, CS, DB, Citi, BAML, UBS

Tier-2 Balance Sheet Shops: Wells Fargo, HSBC, Nomura, SocGen, BNP, etc.

Global Independent Advisory Firms: Evercore, Lazard (Frères), Blackstone, Rothschild, Greenhill, Moelis, etc.

Elite Boutiques: Centerview, Allen, Qatalyst, PWP, Guggenheim (yes, really), etc.

Full-Services Middle Market: Jefferies, HLHZ, Stifel, RBC, William Blair, Baird, Piper Jaffray, etc.

Middle Market Independent Advisory: Harris Williams, Sagent, Lazard (Middle Market), etc.

Fake Banks/Valuation Shops: Duff & Phelps, KPMG Advisory, PwC M&A, etc.

Specialists: Financial Technology Partners, Greentech Capital Partners, etc.

True Boutiques: (Places with a few offices or less, 100 employees or less, etc.)

Sure in general GS/MS/JPM are the top BB's but there are top groups in the Tier 2a/b that people will take over certain groups at those banks. People (specifically looking at students and those trying to break in) need to realize that different investment banks do different things, have different strategies, and serve different markets. The listing in this post is probably the best breakdown of bank's differences but in a vacuum you can't say every offer at BAML is better than Guggenheim or something to that affect. To say otherwise shows a lack of understanding about how the industry/exit ops/career paths work.

Thanks for the shout out, yo.

“Millionaires don't use astrology, billionaires do”
  • 2
Dec 15, 2014 - 3:38pm

initial_d

Why do you say that China will be the next hot-spot for traders? (I am not disputing this comment, I just wanted to hear your reasoning)

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:39pm

Well, PE and HFs seem to be at their peak in the US with the gov't already stepping in little by little to regulate. The Chinese market has barely been tapped and potential upside is unlimited if the government will allow more outside banks/funds to enter market

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:40pm

I've been working at an investment research company focusing on the Great China doing research and financial new reporting.

In my two months so far, the Chinese market is indeed booming. Trading debuts of recent IPOs could rally as much as 12%-130%. In addition, the composite index in China has blossomed threefold since 2005.

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:43pm

i think the fed ought to be considered an investment bank.

------------ I'm making it up as I go along.
Dec 15, 2014 - 3:47pm

BofA with Merrill's IB remnant is definitely ahead of a MM like HSBC. Also, what has DB done to leapfrog the Swiss banks? Additionally, I'd put CS ahead of UBS.

I think they're pretty foolish to begin with, but I'd say there's a top tier of GS/MS/JPM, with JPM on a hot streak. Then following them, Lazard. Then after that I'd put the 3 continental Euro banks- CS/DB/UBS. Then after that the 'money supermarkets' of Barclays/BofA/Citi.

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:49pm

If nothing gets any worse:

1)GS
2)JPM
3)MS
4)Lazard
5)BofA/ML
6)Barclays Capital
7)UBS
8)CS
9)DB
10)Citi

But then again, this thread is totally pointless. BofA may be 100% nationalised in the coming weeks, UBS may spin off it's IB in the medium term, JPM may be dragged in etc. By end of 2009 it may be so different...

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:54pm

talk about a pointless topic and list

In 2005-2007, Bear Stearns was recognized as the "Most Admired" securities firm in Fortune's "America's Most Admired Companies" survey, and second overall in the security firm section. The annual survey is a prestigious ranking of employee talent, quality of management and business innovation. This was the second time in three years that Bear Stearns had achieved this "top" distinction.

where are they now?

Dec 15, 2014 - 3:57pm

MS's M&A activity has been down lately. But, still: GS,JPM & MS are at the top, and then there is "the rest".


Just my 2c.

__________ Just my 2c.
Dec 15, 2014 - 4:01pm

Bulge Brackets and Prestige (Originally Posted: 03/21/2011)

Hi everyone,

I am planning on entering the IBD industry. I am a sophomore at a target school on the East Coast. I recently got interested in the IB, and have been reading up on banks. I know this is a very monotonous question, and most people have conflicting views, but I just wanted to get your view on which bulge brackets are considered the most prestigious after GS, MS?

In my talking to people, it seems as if the general view is

GS, MS, JPM, Citi = CS, BAML, DB,Barcap,UBS.

I understand that it also matters on the group that you chose but just wanted to get a general view. It would be great if you guys could share your opinion instead of bashing me for asking this question. Just trying to learn here.

Dec 15, 2014 - 4:02pm

No. We don't rank banks.

-- "Those who say don't know, and those who know don't say."
Dec 15, 2014 - 4:03pm

Please do not get sucked into this ranking bullshit, it will do nothing for your career advancement.....

Work hard, Play hard.

The answer to your question is 1) network 2) get involved 3) beef up your resume 4) repeat -happypantsmcgee

WSO is not your personal search function.

  • 2
Dec 15, 2014 - 4:05pm

Prestige and rankings are just there for people to stroke ego. Fall into that trap and you end up like everyone else who wants to be a mindless Zombie. The fact is that if you work hard, you can do as quite well wherever you go. The reality is that you will be working with people for the 2 years you are an analyst and if you don't get along with them, it doesn't matter how prestigious your firm is, you won't be happy there.

You still have two years before you even look at being gainfully employed full time. In two years, for all we know, Goldman and Morgan Stanley could have been so decimated by a new financial crisis that they are lack the prestige you so want to find.

Truth is, Prestige means nothing at all. It doesn't matter who you are or where you work, both your shit and your firm's shit stink just as bad as everyone else's shit, and if someone tells you otherwise, then you smack him.

  • 4
Dec 15, 2014 - 4:06pm

Thank you all. I understand it, but at the end of the day, my thinking was that some bulge brackets such as UBS might not be able to get as solid mandates due to the fact that they are not considered 'prestigious' enough or their teams have been departing. so, i just wanted to get everyone's view that which banks are strongly positioned. like i said, its a relative question, but as of now, which banks would you guys consider the strongest on the Street, since you ACTUALLY work there unlike most college kids who just make up stuff! i just want to know how does the hierarchy run.

Dec 15, 2014 - 4:07pm

The whole ranking thing is pretty much bullshit - and don't base your career around Citi being "so much better" than Barcap or something stupid like that. That said, I think it is reasonable to consider, TO A REASONABLE DEGREE, the relative prestige of one job/bank vs. another, because everyone else does (including PE firms and other employers). Just like technical analysis in the stock market - it's bullshit, but people do it- so it becomes real. As you said, GS & MS are probably slightly above the rest in terms of prestige and exit ops, but it get's very hazy below there, and each bank has it's own strong areas/groups. Lazard and Evercore are clearly better places to start a career than Raymond James... but don't start trying to put things on lists and get too detailed about this stuff because it's meaningless.

  • 3
Dec 15, 2014 - 4:08pm

I took the liberty of attaching an appropriate image to this thread.

“Millionaires don't use astrology, billionaires do”
  • 1
Dec 15, 2014 - 4:09pm

haha I was waiting for someone to post a thread like this.

Array
Dec 15, 2014 - 4:12pm

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