Prefer Elite Boutiques or Bulge Brackets?

I'm a senior at a target, coming out of the internship well with a solid offer in hand. Friends and I were discussing about the attractiveness of different EBs and BBs, especially during campus recruitment events and are genuinely curious as to which has the greater pull in terms of career interests from students around the US and UK. Usual EBs suspects like PJT, Evercore, Lazard, Rothschild, Greenhill, Centerview, Perella, Moelis.

Welcome any input from the community. We want to organise some events for risings juniors and seniors in college but don't have the capacity nor the time to establish all the connections needed to secure all attendees from every firms. Need to prioritise!

Comments (75)

Sep 13, 2017

Go to a semi-target where most BB don't recruit at our school however I believe many people prefer the EB > BB.

I believe most people in my school would pick GS/MS (or certain specific BB groups) over the EBs however most people would pick the EBs over the rest of the BB.

I personally will be taking an EB offer over a BB offer (think MS/JPM/CS).

    • 3
    • 4
Best Response
Sep 14, 2017

Musta been tough turning down that MS offer...oh wait I mean CS

    • 22
Sep 14, 2017

hahaha so obvious when you group shit like that; like oh yeah I go to a target think (Harvard/Wharton/Cornel)

    • 16
Sep 13, 2017

Relax, I was still excited when I got the CS offer and I was seriously considering them over an EB just because I really liked the people in the group.

Let me know what offers you get though

    • 1
Sep 13, 2017

A boutique bank absolutely has to be right people and the right fit. Unlike a BB, where you can head there and get a lot out of it even if you don't love it because you get good deal flow, great training, and good exit opportunities, boutiques are very much hit or miss. If you get a top boutique and you like the people and the group you're in, you can absolutely make a killing, get amazing exits, and love your experience. But if you take a boutique and it isn't the right fit, it can be really shitty and you might have to deal with a bunch of shitty work, bad deal flow, and miserable people. Boutiques are risky high beta assets - the upside can be way better than a BB, but the downside can also be miserable. Just my 2 cents.

    • 4
Learn More

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

Sep 23, 2017

Bump

Sep 23, 2017

honestly kind of depends on the EB, some EBs exit well to corp dev / start up while others are known just for PE / HF. Depending on the group though, BB wins if you want to go into a non finance career purely bc of brand name

Sep 23, 2017

What about business school?

Sep 13, 2017

An EB guy will beat the average BB guy 9 times out of ten. Way more learning and is as close to a meritocracy you'll find in IB. They aren't as lenient as BBs when it comes to technical competency so you know everyone there had to know their shit.

    • 2
Sep 23, 2017

Union Square Advisors advised on two of the biggest (the biggest?) LBOs of the last 2 years. A boutique can run the show as the financial advisor but typically BB banks will be named as advisors as well in exhange for financing the transaction.

Sep 23, 2017

if you call a fairness opinion as giving advice, than sure

Sep 23, 2017

Moelis is really the only EB that does a significant number of sponsors deals. The rest like to be better known as Corporate Advisors and it's not as easy without a balance sheet.

Sep 23, 2017

Ditto on the comment that Moelis is the only EB that does a consistent number of sponsors-related deals. Other EBs usually have the mindset of being selective on which deals they take on (best example of this is Greenhill), but Moelis is different in that they got the "we'll take on anything under the sun" type of mindset (which is also why it's known to be a sweatshop - check a previous article on how on analyst died while working at Moelis during this year).

Sep 14, 2017

Literally all the top kids at the top targets end up at boutiques if not the buyside. BBs are like UCLA - well known to be a good school but not where the top kids would go to.

    • 22
Sep 23, 2017

Could you shed some light on the tiers (GS/MS/JPM or BAML/Citi/CS or DB/UBS/BarCap) and how regional the office is (Chicago/SF/Boston or somewhere like Atlanta/Charlotte/Minneapolis)?

Sep 23, 2017

BAML/Citi/CS/BarCap and a Chicago/SF/Boston for the EB

Sep 14, 2017

Observations from when I was a student.

Depending on where you plan to hold the event.

Top targets kids are much more interested in EBs. Even in the UK, kids from Oxbridge like the boutiques better. Better pay, better culture, better experience. This is my perception and is shared by all my peers. Obviously brand names outside finance are not great but they don't care about that.

The rest of the schools, I would say, maybe controversially, to stick with the bulge brackets. First, they have a bigger brand. Second, they have a much bigger class size that can take many other non-top target students who are equally capable.

    • 1
Sep 14, 2017

At my US target, still rarely see someone turn down GS/ms for an EB unless it's restructuring. Think this is due to 2 factors: we have strong representation in top groups at gs/ms so kids think they'll do well in placement, and 2nd Evercore doesn't really have a presence (and would probably draw a ton of interest if it did). But nobody here is taking Laz/Moelis/CVP/PWP over gs/ms - for culture reasons at Moelis/Laz and placement reasons at the latter two.

    • 2
Sep 14, 2017

Interesting to hear. But I guess our experiences are anecdotal at best, given they're based from what we've experienced.

Moelis actually does have a bad reputation for culture in London as well but Lazard seems much better than its US counterparts. Of all the EBs here in the City, I would say Evercore, PJT and Lazard are the most desirable.

    • 2
Learn More

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

Sep 14, 2017

I work at a MM now but would never consider moving to a BB, while moving to an EB would be something I'd think about.

    • 1
Sep 14, 2017

Generally at my target GS/JP/MS is chosen first unless it is PJT RX, then toss up between EBs and BAML/CS/M&A at a BB, then rest of BBs because everyone here values the great branding of the top BBs over the slightly higher pay as later on in life it should be pocket change. For example, if you were choosing someone to be a CFO I think more than likely someone from the top BBs or even the other BBs would be looked at more than people from EBs because no one would've really ever heard of your firm unless they were deep in finance too. Even my friends at MBB don't even know any EBs other than maybe Laz/Ever and thats only because classmates work there. I also believe it is easier to move from a top BB to an EB than vice versa.

    • 1
    • 5
Sep 14, 2017

You don't know what you're talking about if you think any BB below JPM garners more respect than Evercore/Moelis/Lazard/Pwp etc

    • 5
Sep 14, 2017

First of all chill dude, I said what most people at my target do, so that doesn't mean what I personally think. Second of all, I clearly said a toss up as in worth considering. For example, I do think Baml M&A, LevFin, Fin Sponsors as well as CS M&A, LA, Fin Sponsors are definitely worth considering in comparison to Laz/Ever/Moelis if not definitely taking over EBs like Greenhill given how small their deals have been the past couple years. All in all, you should work on your critical reading skills as understanding English and how sentences are articulated fully is vital for banking and life in general.

    • 2
    • 4
Sep 14, 2017

At W, the preferences have generally been the following: top buyside (KKR/BX/SPC/SLP/LGP/Ares), selected top EB groups (pjt m&a/rx, laz m&a/rx, HL rx, evr m&a/rx, Moelis), top BBs (GS/MS/JPM), some other boutiques (Centerview, GHL, millstein, pwp), mid-level BBs (BAML/CS), the rest.

You can do a quick linkedin search to confirm yourself. It's hard and pointless to rank groups in the same tier. A lot of it comes down to personal preferences. This is just W though and doesn't necessarily apply to other schools.

    • 10
    • 1
Sep 14, 2017

I see that - would still be hard pressed to take Lazard and especially Moelis over Goldman Sachs. Seems like all the GS classic groups place better on avg than both, and you get that gs name on your resume to boot. And Moelis NY is truly not worth the pain from what I hear from friends.

PJT/Evercore I can understand.

    • 2
Sep 14, 2017

Agreed, except swap CVP and HL Rx. Also, whoever said EBs are more meritocratic- blatantly untrue at least for analyst recruiting. Usually about half of the 5-7 H/W interns at every EB have a strong personal connection to an MD/partner

    • 4
Sep 14, 2017

nobody who's interested enough in buyside would want to go to cvp to be honest. just because they pay 50k sign on doesn't mean it's good for exit. they have good senior bankers though and are growing fast. juniors are okay. HL rx however places people at apollo centerbridge and oaktree regularly.

    • 5
Sep 14, 2017

I mean having connections matters in finance. That's how you source ideas, talent, and opportunities. These kids are more than qualified to work at these shops, though connections would definitely help. When people say BBs aren't as meritocratic it's because there tends to be more office politics and public image issues (gender/racial/school diversity) that lead to less qualified candidates getting selected over more qualified candidates. Most BBs don't even ask any real technicals for SA interviews if I recall correctly.

Sep 14, 2017

I feel the choices are skewed at W in that more people knew they wanted to do finance way earlier than at any other target where most people generally take top BBs first since they aren't 100 percent sure what they want to do later on in life and value to branding to open doors whereas EBs and top buysides may not due to the cache. However, I do agree if you know you absolutely want to stay in finance EBs that you fit culturally in may be the better choice potentially. In the end it is generally all the same shit in that case.

    • 1
Sep 15, 2017

What's SPC?

Sep 15, 2017
    • 2
Sep 15, 2017

im at a so called elite boutique and if i were to do it again I would go BB. You learn more at a BB.

    • 1
    • 2
Sep 14, 2017

Laz?

Sep 16, 2017

probably Guggenheim lol

    • 6
    • 2
Sep 15, 2017

If you don't have much experience, the BBs are definitely the way to start your career. Ignoring prestige, the amount of training they give you will make you more than qualified to land any other job you want.

As for institutional differences such as culture and compensation, I will echo prevailing sentiments.

"Work ethic, work ethic" - Vince Vaughn
Sep 15, 2017

Thank you all for the comments! I'm currently in the UK to visit some friends but thought would check in. We have confirmed with GS and MS people, based on our own network and internship experiences. I think there's definitely interests in these 2 firms regardless of which schools you go to.

We have also managed to make some progress with PJT, Evercore, Lazard and Moelis. These are our primary focuses right now. If we have more time, we would go to other BBs like JPM, BAML, CS, etc. to hopefully make some traction. Very helpful!

    • 2
Sep 15, 2017

I actually had a guy tell me that a BB is where EB people like himself expect to go for a slow retirement... Allegedly BB guys aren't hard-working enough... but he was a pompous little sh*t. At a BB now, definitely targeting Evercore though. Got to know a lot of guys out there. Many are downright insane, but are consistently boasting major deal flow and are lot a more exhilarated by the pay and culture than Lazard and Moelis people seem to be. Can't talk too much of the two latter, but way more familiar with Evercore and I like what I see.

    • 2
Sep 15, 2017

At the MBA level, it tends to be similar to what other people wrote here, in that most of the top talent seems to prefer EBs over BB. GS/MS compete with the top EBs, but they are the only bulges in the same conversation with EVR/CVR/PJT/LAZ. And from my class it was about 50/50 in terms of GS/MS beating out those top EBs and vice versa. It becomes more murky when you move to banks like PWP/GHL/Moelis which don't tend to have the same clout with the MBAs as the others mentioned.

The majority of MBAs still come in planning on going to a BB, but those who aren't complete career switchers and tend to be more sought after are usually targeting EBs.

    • 2
    • 1
Sep 13, 2017

Pretty sure EBs tend to pay more at the senior levels too so not a bad perk.

Sep 13, 2017

@Bumblebtuna_analyst Let the prestige whore circle jerk begin hahaha.

Sep 20, 2017

Knowing what I know today, my advice to my 21-year old self and to anyone on here who cares is this: if you get a job at GS or MS, take it. You will do just fine. However, if you are not one of the lucky few (most of us), the next best thing for you to do is to go to the firm or group where you can work in their M&A group or in a coverage group that executes its own M&A, whether that is at an EB or BB. This is a personal decision. Go to the place where you feel you can get the best experience and where you can stand out. The incremental prestige of one firm or group or office over another is highly irrelevant, even though it may not seem like it. Nobody aside from the people engaging in that debate cares or even thinks about it -- nor is there a right answer. I think it would be a mistake to wholesale choose EB simply because EBs have a higher perceived sense of prestige over random BB. I should add that the exception would be Moelis LA and PJT restructuring if you want to go down that path. Hope that helps.

    • 8
    • 6
Sep 15, 2017

We've managed to secure GS and MS both. Just a curious note: A lot of the discussions in this community always seem to have PJT as the exception to the rule. Why is that? How are they doing after the spinoff? Admittedly, I have very limited knowledge about them but would be interesting to hear. Is it the restructuring? If so, wouldn't HL, Lazard, Moelis warrant the same perception? From purely what you said above. If PJT stands out, is it because of the many more exit opps / prestige that people give them? I accepted and signed a return offer to GS/MS but am very interested to hear more.

Sep 15, 2017

PJT RX has incredible exit opps. The post-BX classes have had continued solid exits, though a couple of their analysts did struggle this past year. PJT has commonly had analysts go to Baupost, Elliot, and various other top HFs. The points made in the above post seem solid and knowledgeable, but I think it's way less clear cut between HL RX/EVR RX and any of the the BB than the post makes it seem. As mentioned by another poster, the culture at Wharton certainly would be to take an EB over a BB, including GS/MS, but maybe that is because Wharton kids know they want to do finance for a longer period of time than most undergraduates.

    • 2
Sep 15, 2017
hominem:

If you have an opportunity to work in BB M&A over EB M&A, I would do BB M&A because of the opportunity to work on larger, more complex transactions. Related to what I said above, I would go to EB over non-GS/MS BB coverage group because getting middle market M&A experience at EB is better than getting no M&A experience at all.

This makes it sound like you are either 1) lying about working in the industry or 2) simply are ignorant of how the industry works now. Because for the most part, you aren't working on larger and more complex transactions at BBs. And you definitely aren't simply doing MM M&A at EBs. Look at the transaction list of LAZ/EVR/CVR/PwP/PJT. Those names are right along side BBs at all the largest and most complex transactions. And you can bet they actually did a lot of work on them, because unlike JPM/BAML/etc they can't get their name randomly thrown on a deal because they promised financing. These banks aren't getting hired for anything but their expertise.

    • 7
    • 2
Sep 13, 2017

Agree. Lot of prestige whoring on this thread. Non GS/MS bankers left behind? Lol maybe to asian skanks in NYC who love prestige for no reason. There are plenty of groups at both of those firms (ex: GS industrials) that would be well below working in M&A/RX at Lazard.

    • 1
    • 4
Sep 20, 2017

You are right. EBs work on a variety of deals and when I was at MS M&A, I worked on a handful of small deals as well, so I stand corrected.

To be clear, I am not crapping on EBs. I have a lot of respect for them. I have worked with and sat on the other side of the table against Lazard. I have two close friends who are MDs at Evercore. They would not have spent as much time at the firm if they did not think it was a good place. I almost lateraled to Moelis when I was a VP before moving to the buyside. I have been on deals with PJT, the person, and have worked with two current PJT MDs from their time at MS on various transactions.

My main point in my previous post is that, unless you are at GS/MS, people shouldn't make decisions based on prestige rankings. They should make decisions on where they can get the best experience from a deal/skillset perspective. I have learned from this thread that there is no right answer, and people feel quite strongly about it. If you think the best platform to do that is EB, then go to EB. If you think that is BB, go to BB.

Being (much) older, there is one thing I am certain of. In the end, no matter where you go, you will do fine. Nobody is "being left behind" if you don't get into GS/MS. My non GS/MS analyst classmates have all gone on to do great things, including starting their own funds, rising up the ladder in corporate, founding and selling their own companies, etc.

    • 7
    • 2
Sep 17, 2017

Lol this guy has no idea what he's talking about

    • 1
    • 1
Sep 23, 2017

Go to a non-target so not sure how relevant this data point will be but at my school PJT M&A/ PJT RSSG / EVR M&A are all more "sought after" than GS/MS/JP. Not to say that the experience is better or worse at either but these two are definitely seen as more prestigious than the rest. This could partially be due to smaller class size for EBs (esp PJT).

Things get more fuzzy for the rest of the EBs, don't think anyone here would take a non PJT/EVR EB over a GS.

    • 2
Sep 16, 2017

Why is JPM often ranked a tier below GS/MS?

    • 1
Sep 16, 2017

Because it has worse exits in that only some groups at JPM do well. In comparison most groups at GS and MS do well (and some specific groups like Goldman TMT and MS M&A do amazing)

Sep 16, 2017

Got it. Is there a reason for why their groups don't place as well (i.e. less modeling or less deal flow in the groups at JPM)?

Sep 19, 2017

Ex GS here-from what I know, the firm no longer has the same prestige in the post crisis era and this will continue for atleast the next 3-4 years. Revenue has been crippled as FICC is not doing well and the firm has no idea what to do next. So, IMO, the firm's reputation is only perceived and is no longer on the same level as JPM/MS

    • 5
Sep 19, 2017

I've worked at both an EB and top BB on the west coast. My impression is that, at least in LA/SF, few would turn down GS/MS/JPM (and certain groups at other BB's like CS). Except for Qatalyst and Moelis LA, the EBs don't offer as strong of exits as there NY counterparts generally. Not sure if this is true in other regional offices, but can imagine it being similar.

    • 1