There are several top middle market banks, including the following. This list is not exhaustive.

Houlihan Lokey
Robert W. Baird
Raymond James

If you were given offers from all of the above banks, which would you accept? Why?

What are some of the differentiating factors between these banks?
I know Houlihan Lokey has a top restructuring group....but beyond that, all these banks appear homogeneous to me.

Comments (14)


Baird. I asked someone in the industry for a list of the top small, mid-market investment banks (excluding larger ones like Evercore), and he gave me the following list, ordered from best to worst:

  1. Harris Williams
  2. William Blair
  3. R. W. Baird
  4. Lincoln International

Of those four, he told me that Baird that the best culture and cared the most for its people. For me personally, since they are all good, reputable banks, culture would be one of my biggest decision factors.

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Yes HW is awesome. Out of those I would say by far, but your guy is definitely not considering Houlihan as MM and probably not Jefferies. I would put Jefferies in the top 3, especially given their bigger presence in NY than the others.

That is, I think, the biggest downside of those banks, that they're centered in not NY (ie. HW - VA/MN, Blair - Chi, etc.)



Bartleby McTwiddles, thanks for the info.

First hand information would be appreciated.


In no order:



Jefferies for deal experience + exit opportunities, Baird for deal experience (a step below Jefferies) + Exit Opportunities (basically on par with Jefferies) + Culture. Harris Williams is a good option too. Stifel & Raymond James are clear laggards, and HL is very group dependent.

Best Response

Top MM Banks for the BB Adverse (Originally Posted: 03/17/2007)

I was hoping people could share their experiences with Midle Market banks to aid in the search for people whom for whatever reason do not want to work at a Bulge Bracket. I dug through the archives a bit and tried to pull together the name of some reputable firms that may be a good alternative to working at a BB.

Piper Jaffray
Houlihan Lokey Howard and Zukin
Goldsmith, Agio, Helms & Lynner, LLC
Harris Williams
Robert W. Baird
Thomas Weisel

I know some people may have negative opinions about some of these banks, but can we get a list for people who might need this information. I'm looking to comprise it mostly of banks that do not scream of prestige but would ring a bell to people in the industry.



I was under the impression that people usually only go to MMs for two reasons; 1) they couldn't get into a BB (unlucky, bad grades, non-target, etc. etc.) or 2) for some extremely pressing personal reason they want to stay in a city where a BB does not have a strong presence.

I always thought MMs usually had roughly the same work level (maybe slightly less) for slightly less pay. Either way I may be mistaken, someone please correct if there are other reasons one may go to a MM. I would also add BoA, Wachovia and RBS to that.


it depends on why you are BB averse. if it is because you are not good enough to get in then yeah, look going to a second tier. if becuase you don't like the culture, then look at a top boutique - Greenhill, pwp, Evercore.


In addition to the reasons listed above, some people want MM because they desire to work with clients who have actually built their companies from the ground up as opposed to mediocre corporate executives lacking in anything resembling entrepreneurship or creativity. Some of these guys built companies and are now seeking a private placement or IPO that, either way, could personally net them a couple of hundred million dollars. In my mind, however, the only firm that really stands out in the MM is, as I mentioned on the other thread, HLHZ. There could be some others with niches, but Houlihan is generally going to be the best MM option. Although I will say that the level of person they're hiring will be very high and could potentially get into a 2nd tier BB if he so desired. In other words, if you're looking at MMs as a backup to BBs, this isn't going to be a great option.

And as for Gleacher and Rothschild, while they are boutiques, they are definitely not MM firms. Most of their deals will in fact be multi-billion dollar deals (AT&T, Tata, etc.), so they compete with the BBs, much like Greenhill and Evercore.


Another reason, and one that made me choose MM, is if one wants to specialize in an industry that is more difficult to do at a BB, in fact, some MM firms cover certain industries much better than some of the BB firms.


Unless you really think the worst banker at one firm is better than the best banker at another, you're a lemming to choose a firm over another because of its "ranking".

I have purposefully stayed away from any of the childish "is ML better than CS" or "is HBS better than Stanford GSB" type questions, but let me say one thing: exit opportunities, like all other career things, primarily relate to your abilities, rather than the firms you were affiliated with. Do you really think that PE firms are too naive to see through your firm's brand name?

Stick around in this business as long as I have, and you'll learn that there are no shortage of morons at any top bank. And no shortage of brilliant people at any firm in investment banking.

Choosing based on brand name is an activity best reserved for those either too ignorant to be able to make decisions based on relevant criteria, or too stupid to discern the truth even after careful study.


is that they tend to be hit the hardest by economic downturns. There are a lot of them that are doing well now, but we're in record M&A times - once that's over, MMs get hit bad. A lot of them close, and the ones that don't will fire like crazy. Before everyone goes crazy, I KNOW that BBs fire a lot too, but I have checked with a lot of senior bankers at BBs and MMs, and they all agree that MMs are far more at risk when it comes to people losing their jobs or losing out on bonuses. It's just a fact of life, when there is no M&A activity, B of A can supplement the investment bank with commercial banking revenue but Jefferies can't.


Believing that people in the middle market are less qualified or couldn't get a job at a bulge bracket is not correct. It might be directionally correct for someone who eats, sleeps, and dreams banking but for the normal person it is off. I have worked at a bulge bracket and a top middle market bank and there were analysts who received offers from a middle market bank and accepted the bulge offer and vice versa. This board loves to talk about GS, MS, CS, etc. but as someone said before there is no shortage of morons working there compared to any other investment bank.

As an addition to the list of middle market shops you can include Edgeview, BGL, Barrington, Lincoln, Raymond James, Simmons, Stephens, and Wachovia (to an extent).


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Once more into the breach, dear friends.