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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

Top Boutique Rankings


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 (275)

Nov 9, 2014

Agree.

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Aug 31, 2017

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,
">
<abbr title="Goldman Sachs

">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 <abbr title="mergers and acquisitions

">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: <abbr title="JP Morgan

">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, <abbr title="Bank of America Merrill Lynch

">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

Nov 9, 2014

It's all about the prefteege guys

EDIT: Add Perella Weinberg to the list

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    • 4
Nov 9, 2014

Can you really call Macquarie a boutique? Curios if that's how it's viewed in the US, vs. a MM bank or something similar....it's basically the biggest BB in Australia

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Dec 10, 2014
notthehospitalER:

Can you really call Macquarie a boutique? Curios if that's how it's viewed in the US, vs. a MM bank or something similar....it's basically the biggest BB in Australia

Macquarie drives me batshit when they step up from the third pew with some off the wall issue. Boutique? Most definitely.

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Nov 9, 2014

Why is a Rothschild lower than Allen & Co.
Why is Harris Williams and Robert Baird not there? Why do we put mid-market banks as 2/3 tier boutique and do not have a specific league? Harris Williams send people to HBS and to to mid-market PE...

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    • 1
Nov 9, 2014

Keep in mind this is for US operations, not European operations. Will note Harris Williams and Robert Baird.

    • 2
    • 2
Nov 9, 2014

wtf bro its not Blackstone anymore its PJT

Nov 9, 2014

Thanks for the ranking, now all makes sense.

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Nov 9, 2014

lol'd when i saw the thread title

Nov 9, 2014

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.

Nov 9, 2014

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

Because one is superior over the other?

Nov 9, 2014

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

Dec 15, 2014

Agreed! GS is more prestigious than UBS, but it doesn't mean you can't have a terrific experience at UBS or get a great education at Cornell.

Nov 9, 2014

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.

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Nov 9, 2014

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.

    • 3
Nov 9, 2014

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."

Nov 9, 2014
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.

Nov 11, 2014
monkeyleverage:

YAnd 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

That's about as accurate as putting Macquarie in with HL.

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Dec 11, 2014

What the F is Simmons & Co? I'm assuming that you work there and these rankings bruised your ego

Dec 11, 2014

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.

Nov 9, 2014
monkeyleverage:

PS. Am willing to bet I will receive <20 monkey shit.

I'll take the over on that bet.

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Nov 10, 2014
DickFuld:
monkeyleverage:

PS. Am willing to bet I will receive <20 monkey shit.

I'll take the over on that bet.

@monkeyleverage Currently at 21 MS. How much do you owe me?

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Nov 10, 2014

had to switch to 30 MS due to inflation. Owe you nothing for now.

    • 2
Nov 10, 2014

you're at 31 right now chief

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Nov 12, 2014
monkeyleverage:

had to switch to 30 MS due to inflation. Owe you nothing for now.

Ok. You hit 30, what do I get?

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Dec 15, 2014

I agree ML shouldn't really be all the way up there.

Dec 15, 2014

But isnt ML's private banking(wealth management) division second to none? That was my impression.

Dec 15, 2014

yeah, but I don't think IM/WM is part of the rankings at all, different industry.

Dec 15, 2014

Does anyone know how well ML's private banking pay for incoming analysts?

Dec 15, 2014

i really dont think the rankings matter at all....

Dec 15, 2014

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

So, to clarify, Gleacher or Goldman? Blackstone or MS?

Dec 15, 2014

I might actually go with Gleacher over Goldman. Even though Goldman is a great name and has a very strong culture, Gleacher has a great niche name, you will get more exposure to senior people, and you will probably get more attention in the near future. By that, I mean that senior people with very good contacts may be more willing to help you out. I have heard of a few Gleacher "alumni" that it's a great place, you really learn a lot and the seniors care, whereas I haven't heard the same from Goldman guys. It's a close call though.

As for Blackstone vs MS, I would choose Blackstone hands down. No comparison. Great comp, great name, great experience, and perhaps the best name on the Street on you resume, with options to move around in other top-notch groups. You will get killed though for a couple of years.

Dec 15, 2014

i dont get it... whats the big deal with this firm? i don't even remember when they last advised on a deal! maybe a few years ago or something no?

Dec 15, 2014

Greenhill has done well, but it's focused on smaller deals. The firm didn't even place in the top 15 for U.S. M&A during H1 2006.

Gleacher does not do a lot of deals.

Evercore placed 7th in U.S. M&A for H1 2006, above UBS, Lazard, Merrill, B of A, Bear Sterns, Deutsche, etc. This was done with less than 70 M&A bankers.

In terms of boutique banks, there's really no question.

Dec 15, 2014

http://www.vault.com/nr/finance_rankings/finance_r...
Lehman's top in "Quality of Life Ranking", and 4th in "Prestige Ranking". With that in mind, my vote goes to Lehman.

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Dec 15, 2014

I love when people get worked up about a movement of ONE place in a ranking, on the basis they disagree.

These things are just number crunching algorithims, and they are going to move every year, but by all means, be upset about an unjustified move from 7->6....

  •  Dec 15, 2014

ML should be top 3

  •  Dec 15, 2014

ML should be top 3

Dec 15, 2014

rankings are too subjective to really be all that valuable or get too worked up over

Jul 5, 2017

haha Gleacher is out of business

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Dec 15, 2014

Blackstone hands down

Dec 15, 2014

i definitely think that even within the BB, prestige matters; but mainly for future prospects. But remember that different banks are really good in diff groups.

Dec 15, 2014

How would then JPM compare to other bb ibanks in terms of M&A?

Dec 15, 2014

Not that great. I would put them towards the bottom of BB. They had a good name a few years back, particularly in energy I think, but I don't think anymore. That said, they may a good name at some of their groups, so I hope I'm not being too harsh.

Dec 15, 2014

have you checked the league tables? JPM is #2/#3 globally in M&A and is on a lot of the big deals... this is just plain wrong. they are obviously in the top end of the BB.

Dec 15, 2014

The people who really care about the rankings and talking about it, aren't really the type of people you'd want to have a beer with anyhow, so who cares?

Dec 15, 2014

agree...

Dec 15, 2014

work at a place where you're happy with people you like

Dec 15, 2014

Worrying about rankings is ridiculous. As long as you work at a big bank it's all about the same.

Dec 15, 2014

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

i dont understand this debate. i think the rankings are pretty clear - goldman at top, then gap, then Morgan Stanley then gap and then everyone else!

Dec 15, 2014

And honestly, rankings don't really mean that much anyway. If you're a top-tier analyst, you'll get interviews at most places. You might end up at Franciso instead of Silver Lake, but does that really matter in the long run?

Dec 15, 2014

What about UBS LA and CSFB LA? Heard that these are legit shops and since I want to do PE on the west coast would be strong choices.

Dec 15, 2014

Where is this list located?

Dec 15, 2014

Both are TOP notch for westcoast pe placement

Dec 15, 2014

Blackstone hands down

Dec 15, 2014

See if you can do HLHZ LA. They have the biggest presence on the West Coast.

Dec 15, 2014

Just a bump to JHM where can you actually find this list?

Dec 15, 2014

i don't know where you got that from. HLHZ might have the biggest presence on the west coast in terms of critical mass, but the best known shops are UBS and Credit Suisse in LA... GS also has good deal flow in the media and consumer space. exit opps are good from these three in LA

Morgan Stanley Menlo Park and GS SF are, from what i know, two of the best regionals in the bay area

Dec 15, 2014

HLHZ's only strength is restructuring

Dec 15, 2014

My vote goes to Lehman Brothers

Dec 15, 2014

Lehman is bomb now

Dec 15, 2014

not much difference between the top banks...cept for goldman which has its hands in everything

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Dec 15, 2014

ML took a big yield hit this year at my school. That said, I still think it's no. 3 on the street.

Dec 15, 2014

Big yield hit? Because, if you mean they made a lot of offers at your school but people didn't take them, that happened at my old school, too. Why did that happen?

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Nov 9, 2014

Jefferies belongs somewhere, probably with Rothschild

Dec 15, 2014

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.

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Dec 15, 2014

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

http://www.ibankingoasis.com/node/3208
Support that thread and we can hopefully curb the number of repeated questions.

Mis Ind:

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

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
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

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

have you ever been to NYC? BofA is not a prestigious investment bank, its a huge commercial bank.

Dec 15, 2014

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

I chose MS over GS due to pure product focus.

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Dec 15, 2014
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.

Dec 15, 2014
Westcoasting:
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.

True, but I'm talking about the overall firm, and overall, GS is more prestigious. At least when I interviewed with MS for an intership, you wouldn't know what group you'd be placed in until right before you start interning. And the end of summer offer you get is to the group you interned in, and changing groups is reportedly impossible. And since there are many more industry groups and GS's industry groups are mostly somewhat better than MS's, I'd go with GS. Obviously MS is a great firm, don't get me wrong...

And like I said, there are reasons to reject GS of course...i.e. wanting to work at a boutique, wanting to work in a regional office or foreign country, etc. and as you said wanting to work in a product group.

Dec 15, 2014

Honestly go ask someone at GS, do they think they are better than their peer at MS? I highly doubt it. I have friends at UBS and Credit Suisse out here on the west and yea if given the choice again I'd take MS, but the prestige is minimal.

These 4 being the best banks on the west coast. but if you ask me about Merrill Lynch who hires from University of Hawaii and Lehigh... then you got something else.

jgsim:
Westcoasting:
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.

True, but I'm talking about the overall firm, and overall, GS is more prestigious. At least when I interviewed with MS for an intership, you wouldn't know what group you'd be placed in until right before you start interning. And the end of summer offer you get is to the group you interned in, and changing groups is reportedly impossible. And since there are many more industry groups and GS's industry groups are mostly somewhat better than MS's, I'd go with GS. Obviously MS is a great firm, don't get me wrong...

And like I said, there are reasons to reject GS of course...i.e. wanting to work at a boutique, wanting to work in a regional office or foreign country, etc. and as you said wanting to work in a product group.

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Dec 15, 2014
bb.MandA.3rdyear:

Honestly go ask someone at GS, do they think they are better than their peer at MS? I highly doubt it. I have friends at UBS and Credit Suisse out here on the west and yea if given the choice again I'd take MS, but the prestige is minimal.

These 4 being the best banks on the west coast. but if you ask me about Merrill Lynch who hires from University of Hawaii and Lehigh... then you got something else.

I agree, Goldman analysts aren't "better" than Morgan Stanley analysts or analysts at Lehman, Citi, etc. The only thing that really differentiates them on paper is the fact that they worked at Goldman (assuming equal deal experience). That's not what I'm implying. I'm just saying that the exit opps from GS OVERALL (not getting group specific here) are somewhat better than from pretty much everywhere else because of the prestige factor.

Obviously the West Coast is a completely different story (and there are major differences about which banks are good even among West Coast cities). I think most people are talking about East Coast banks when they speak generally.

Dec 15, 2014

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

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

I've never met anyone on Wall Street who would consider BofA's investment banking practice "prestigious".

Dec 15, 2014

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

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

.

Dec 15, 2014

Notice the assumption: "BOARD OF DIRECTOR"

Also, notice this precautionary line at the beginning of the post: "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."

I'll extrapolate no further than that in avoidance of pointless flame wars.

Learn how to read people.

bb.MandA.3rdyear:

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

Dec 15, 2014

Yup Ace, BAS is only higher in market cap due to their other businesses, check out BAS IBD.

So you're also saying since F (FORD) has higher market cap it's more prestigious than Ferrari.

somecdndude:

Notice the assumption: "BOARD OF DIRECTOR"

Also, notice this precautionary line at the beginning of the post: "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."

I'll extrapolate no further than that in avoidance of pointless flame wars.

Learn how to read people.

bb.MandA.3rdyear:

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

Then you'll see the difference.

Dec 15, 2014

Prestige is not directly correlated with size, and in some cases, far from it.

Dec 15, 2014

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

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.

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Dec 15, 2014

I think streetluck has summarized the end purpose of many of these "rank these banks" posts very well.

Dec 15, 2014
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

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

Where does Bear Stearns stand?

Dec 15, 2014

If anything I'd rather be at Bear than BofA IB...and I don't think i'm the only one that shares that opinion

crazybanana:

Where does Bear Stearns stand?

Dec 15, 2014

for exit ops...

goldman >> ms >>>>>>>>>> anybody else.

Dec 15, 2014

I concur.

However, all that really matters if where you fit in the best, which then implies where you will perform the best, which will lend itself to where you will exit

Nov 9, 2014

This thread is cancer.

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Dec 14, 2014

Amen

Dec 15, 2014

no one wants to work at Rothschild. i would rank it below DB. lehman ibd in europe isn't strong but i guess graduates do tend to like the lehman brand.

Dec 15, 2014

uhhhh, that seems pretty wrong. From what I have heard, everyone is busting their balls to work for DB Europe