Why a Bulge Bracket Investment Bank?

There's some solid posts on WSO why boutique/MM. Since I have two boutique IB internships and want to land a BB FT this fall I thought I'd bring it up (potential interview question):

Why a BB? as opposed to Boutique / MM?

What's the best way to answer this?

Typical/plain answers:
-Bigger deals
-"World class" training programs
-Global firms
-Deal flow
etc...

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Comments (39)

Jun 21, 2012 - 2:24am

Honest answer is just that everyone knows the BB's, whilst no one may be familiar with the particular boutique you worked at.

The way to answer the question in an interview, in addition to the examples you listed, is to discuss the "depth vs. breadth" idea and convince them you want to gain depth in the area relevant to the position for which you're interviewing.

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:17pm

It provides the most comprehensive learning experience. A BB industry group is the only environment where you can work on equity offerings, debt offerings, M&A and other types of deals. Since you're young you don't want to be at a place that immediately makes you specialize in one product. A BB also provides the most resources and you can access different parts of the bank. You would have access to their research and the name globally recognized.

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:18pm

Why BB? (Originally Posted: 02/25/2010)

I already accepted a position at a solid (but not top three) BB for next year, but I have this question:

Why do people want to get into a BB so badly? Only the top analysts at top BB's even get interviews with top PE funds, whereas many more people get them at top boutiques. Even JPM, MS (not M&A), and GS (non-TMT) analysts seem to be at a significant disadvantage to any Evercore analyst in PE recruiting.

Help me figure this out... I am assuming, by the way, that most of you want to do PE after your analyst stint.

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:19pm

This is not even close to correct, and I'm a little surprised you didn't know this making it as far as you did. Typically, BB's keep large number of analysts to build their models on top of doing the financial analysis. With the exception of the more prestigious boutiques, the models are pre built, and your just responsible for the analysis. That's why the training and experience is more in depth typically at BB's, which makes for better PE analysts.

Additionally, knock it out of your head that the only shot into PE is through Goldman TMT and MS m&a. Your network and the people that will go to bat for you is what makes or breaks your career, to a degree.

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Jun 21, 2012 - 1:24pm
fembotma:
no i don't i want to go to a mba and start my own company. and ur wrong BB networking is a lot better.

edit thats why i'm doing TMT and trying to go to VC

cant do that if no BB

What the fuck are you even talking about? And weren't damn near asking this same question a couple posts ago?

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Jun 21, 2012 - 1:25pm

Why always a BB firm (Originally Posted: 03/16/2007)

Why is everyone here have the mindset of a BB new york city firm making top dollar or nothing at all? I think if you got your foot in the door at any Investment bank in any of the major cities in the U.S. you'd be sitting pretty good. But I guess Im new and dont really know much but thought i'd throw that out there.

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:26pm

Really it depends. If you work for ML in Chicago, GS in San Francisco, or Wach/BofA in Charlotte, for example...then yes, you will still make top dollar and be be doing something positive for your resume. However, if you work for "Joe's I-bank" in the middle of rural Idaho, then you aren't going to make top dollar or be building up your resume. The reason this matters, at least for a lot of us, is because we are always looking for what will prepare us for the next step down the road.

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:27pm

I think it would be cool to start at a small hedge fund or maybe a top boutique - you might feel like you had more of an impact.

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:29pm

I think all of the "BB or nothing else" talk is crap. I pretty much didn't even apply to the BB's and only applied to a single firm in New York. Put simply: I have no desire to work in new york. I landed a job in more or less the equivalent of a Charlotte / Wachovia and I couldn't be happier. The truth is there are a number of options that may appeal to potential i-bankers and this board is incredibly skewed in its thinking. I may be making less than street but I'm going to be living like a king for half the price which, for me, is a pretty good deal. If GS were to give me an offer, I wouldn't take it. I don't aspire to work for KKR, etc. I'm happy with life at an MM bank.

CompBanker

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Jun 21, 2012 - 1:32pm
CompBanker:
I think all of the "BB or nothing else" talk is crap. I pretty much didn't even apply to the BB's and only applied to a single firm in New York. Put simply: I have no desire to work in new york. I landed a job in more or less the equivalent of a Charlotte / Wachovia and I couldn't be happier. The truth is there are a number of options that may appeal to potential i-bankers and this board is incredibly skewed in its thinking. I may be making less than street but I'm going to be living like a king for half the price which, for me, is a pretty good deal. If GS were to give me an offer, I wouldn't take it. I don't aspire to work for KKR, etc. I'm happy with life at an MM bank.

lol!

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:34pm
CompBanker:
I think all of the "BB or nothing else" talk is crap. I pretty much didn't even apply to the BB's and only applied to a single firm in New York. Put simply: I have no desire to work in new york. I landed a job in more or less the equivalent of a Charlotte / Wachovia and I couldn't be happier. The truth is there are a number of options that may appeal to potential i-bankers and this board is incredibly skewed in its thinking. I may be making less than street but I'm going to be living like a king for half the price which, for me, is a pretty good deal. If GS were to give me an offer, I wouldn't take it. I don't aspire to work for KKR, etc. I'm happy with life at an MM bank.

I'd bet that CompBanker will outlast the vast majority of the others on this board in this business.

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:30pm

it is my understanding that investment banking experience is looked at very favorably any/everywhere in the business world....however, see GameTheory's comments on name recognition, it's the way things are, much like the issue with target/non-target schools.

fyi, I am not a banker but I believe I've done enough networking and informationals to give solid input

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:31pm

Most people who know about investment banking, which is a small percentage of the total population, will give you respect for doing it for 2 or 3 years. They know that it can build you one of the best financial skillsets right out of college of any profession. And there's no question about your work ethic.

The dichotomy is that most people use banking as a means to an end, and that end is not a career in banking. Even if that end is a career in banking, most people would rather start out at a prestigious bank and command higher pay or rank from a lower tier bank later. So as a perpetual stepping stone, obviously you want to be on the largest rock.

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:33pm

Nothing wrong with that, Prescott. Speaking as a Manhattan BB analyst who's struggling financially, I think it's a valid strategy.

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:35pm

People will always assume the only reason you are at a second tier bank is because you are second tier. If you didn't have any BB offers from a decent city you will have a pretty hard time convincing people otherwise.

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:36pm

It's like playing Div II basketball instead of Div I basketball.

Sure you tell yourself it's easier and you have no desire or whatever, but everyone knows that basketball players aspire to Div I, not Div II.

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:37pm

xistguru, I think you are only looking at one side of things because that is the way you feel and you can't imagine anyone else feeling otherwise. For myself, the prestige of the bank is only one of many things that I took into consider when deciding where to apply. Certain criteria had to be met. I didn't want to be in New York City (I find the people extremely rude and I really dislike big city living). When I applied for jobs I wasn't even thinking about "exit opps." I was looking for a place that I liked that I could see myself working at for longer than a 2 year stint.

I think applying for i-banks and colleges are pretty similar. Some people apply close to home because they have strong family ties, others only consider schools where the weather is nice. I know a kid who is going to work for a boutique because his father works there and he isn't even applying to other banks. Many people on this board emphasize fit as being the most important part of deciding where to go. I think some people just need to relax and realize that prestige is just one of many parts of the equation.

I know I'm going to be working long hours once work starts; I can't control that. However, I can control where I live and who I live with. I may as well make my life outside of work as pleasurable as possible.

CompBanker

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:38pm
CompBanker:
I think some people just need to relax and realize that prestige is just one of many parts of the equation.

I think you are thinking about a different equation than most people on the board.

Quality of Life Equation = Prestige - not so important
Getting to a Top Finance Job After Analyst Stint = Prestige - pretty important

I'm just saying you're the exception, not the rule. You might be happy to be in a MM at a non-financial hub to have a better quality of living. But most people who want to pursue the top finance jobs know that the BBs in NYC and other major financial hubs provide better opportunities than most any MM firm, and are willing to make lifestyle sacrifices early on for more rewards later.

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:39pm

well, if you have already convinced yourself you don't have the motivation to mix it with the best at a bb i am really concerned for you.

many of my friends already find it hard to motivate themselves to update comps at 2am and they are at GS/ms. i doubt they would even entertain the idea of working their ass off in ibd if they were working for a second tier name.

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:40pm

tallon123: I didn't say I wasn't motivated to "mix it with the best at a bb." I am actually extremely excited to start work and looking forward to getting started (although this will probably change a month in, but it sure beats going into it already feeling miserable). What I was saying is I don't like the NY environment.

As for finding motivation, I'm sure each of us will find our own ways to keep grinding away. Some people think of the exit ops, some of their large paycheck, some want to move on to associate, and some want their co-workers and/or family to think of them as a success. Whatever it is, it doesn't -have- to be GS/MS or a BB near-equivalent. Those with the mindset that it is "BB or nothing" are allowed to think that, but try not to belittle others for not sharing the same goals or aspirations.

Try to think of it this way: I'm sure everyone going into banking has told a friend about their new job only to receive the response of: "Why would you ever do that, are you crazy?" Not everyone has a burning desire to be at GS/MS or live in Manhattan. As an extremely job oriented individual it is very difficult to see or understand this point of view. I, although my career is my top-most priority at this point in my life, do not feel so wildly obligated to be the richest hotshot on Wall Street.

Lastly: Working for an MM bank still puts you leagues ahead of the thousands of other college grads working their 9-5s. I will be doing M&A so I would say my exit ops into PE are quite strong should I choose to pursue that path. Going MM isn't banishing yourself to a mediocre life, not to mention we are pretty much all talking about analyst positions. Everyone has a chance to be reborn if they make it into a top-tier MBA program.

CompBanker

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:42pm

It's funny, some of the people in this thread remind me of someone I know. This kid, from freshman year on did nothing but talk shit on banks like BofA, it was all Goldman this, Goldman that, etc. etc. He had this "BB or nothing" attitude and was very, very smug about it. Guess what, he works for BofA now, he realized it's a lot of horseshit to jerk off to a bank's name. Have some humility, people.

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:44pm
Prescott Moncrief III:
The only reason he's saying it's horse shit now is due to the fact that he didn't get an offer from any of the top banks.

Yeah, maybe so. But the point I was trying to make is that it's foolish to run your mouth about this shit because you could very well end up looking like a fool in the end (like that friend of mine).

Past that, anyone that looks down on someone else for the firm they work for alone, is a retard. You don't measure a man's worth by the size of his wallet (or his business card, for that matter).

Your screen name is absurd btw, good for a laugh.

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:45pm

Definitely agree with you on the first point. And I am by no means saying that you should look down on someone in IBD at a less regarded bank (although these people tend to be especially sensitive to working there, so fucking with them about their bank can be pretty fun), as really, when it comes down to it, most of getting the first offer has to do with luck.

That being said, it is unrealistic to go under the assumption that exit ops for BofA and GS will be equal. If, however, you're like CompBanker and not interested in exit ops, then it does not matter. But s/he is more the exception than the rule, and most people are interested in options past banking that are extremely competitive.

So is it the end of the world if you get BofA/BS/Wachovia IBD? No, these are all good positions relative to the rest of the college grads in this country. But, should you take one of the aforementioned firms over GS/MS/Lazard? I would say no 99.9% of the time.

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:46pm

xistguru you are absolutely correct: Upon entering, BB > MM for exit ops. However, a big piece of it is determined by how hard you work after you get in. An MM analyst at the top of his class will have most opportunities open to him. I think people greatly underestimate the experience gained from a 2 year stint as an MM banker.

I guess I will pose this question: What does an analyst learn after 2 years at a BB that you wouldn't learn otherwise? What skills do you gain that will qualify you more for a position (let's say, PE) that I won't be gaining?

CompBanker

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:47pm

Because the people on this board are obsessed with investment banking, that's why they actually take the time to visit a site like this. If you take ibanking that seriously, life is all about GS/MS/BB and doing MM is the world's greatest sin.

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:48pm

what happens if you hate your boss and co-workers...you may work at GS/MS but you dislike your job and want to kill them all...i wonder what kind of analyst you'd be then....lets say you finish lowest bucket, and continually are one of the worst unhappiest guys to work with...wonder what kind of amazing exit opportunities you will have then?

seriously people need to consider fit more...

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:49pm

Depends on the MM. If you're at HLHZ, then sure, you will be learning just as much as any guy at a BB (although you will still be at a disadvantage due to the fact that your MDs won't have the same industry contacts as their BB counterparts, which is one of the keys to opening doors in PE).

If, however, you are at ABN AMRO (or any bank along these lines), then no, you will not get experience anywhere close to the level of those working as analysts at BBs (due to the lack of deal flow, the lack of any structured training program, the lack of any serious senior people that will be able to mentor you, etc.).

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:50pm

I dont know, i dont think you need to be in a top ranked firm to get where you want to be, just whatever you make of where your at....i bet there are alot of very qualified people not let into some of the top banks and they got thereselves in a position to do something really good. Not sayign that i wouldnt turn down an opportunity or GS but its not everything

Jun 21, 2012 - 1:51pm

Do senior people really mentor juniors "better" at BBs than at MM firms? I interned at a boutique and the analysts all had regular interaction with each MD as well as the founders. The founder even sat down with each of the analysts and pointed to their specific faults. I would imagine that larger institutions would have a more intense separation between the junior and senior people. Is this a fair assumption?

CompBanker

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