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Comments (104)

Jan 17, 2020 - 5:44am

Worked with them on a few of the smaller Mid transactions. Seem Ok - nothing special.

London has decent deal flow- especially in TMT. So you'll get some deals on your sheet.

Exit wise- you'll be looking at a small -> Mid PE or Corp Dev. Personally I'd use to transition to a better shop after a year.

UK Investment Banking - London
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Jan 17, 2020 - 9:50am

Blair performs at/near the top of the mid-market space with Baird. Throughout recruiting, their team emphasized banking as a long-term career move, which was evidenced by their A2A retention. PE placement is group-specific and appears to place at firms such as Francisco, Providence, GTCR, Thoma, Summit, and MDP. You'll certainly get deal experience at Blair, which should assist in a transition to the buyside. Pay was consisent with Wall Street if I recall.

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Jan 19, 2020 - 5:20pm

Blair analysts are definitely not consistently placing into the Thoma Bravo, MDP, GTCR, Providence tier of PE firms.

Don't get me wrong. It's a great shop and analysts are sharp. It's just that those analysts still have to overcome the middle market stigma with headhunters, which hurts their chances of competing for Thoma Bravo, MDP, GTCR tier firms. You'll see maybe 1 analyst per year out of a total class of ~30 heading to that caliber shop.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 20, 2020 - 5:03am

I was working there and trust me we were getting a lot of goodbye emails from analysts leaving to that tier of PE shops. Sure, maybe not the KKRs, Blackstones and Apollos but still.
Agreed on the stigma point, I hope it'll get better :^)

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Jan 17, 2020 - 12:56pm

Great brand, similar to Baird, and are considered among the top in the MM. I know they've seen strong growth over the last 5 or so years. Emphasis on culture is big, and comp is phenomenal (browse the salary data on WSO). All cash bonuses too and opportunity to buy into the company.

PE opps are there, as are A2A promotes which are more common than elsewhere.

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 17, 2020 - 1:51pm

Know many people working there. Some misinformation on this forum regarding Blair. Comp is street. (130k all in for A1 IBD) Know people in all competitive groups (Chicago only though) and is standard for MM. Deals are average. Work with a lot to crappy clients and will work on a lot of LMM deals (as would any other MM). I personally know people that have worked on 100MM M&A buysides. Some groups also work on UMM sized deals as well, so it can be hit or miss. Industrials, healthcare and tech are definitely the stronger groups. PE placement is good in Chicago. Couple associates at GCTR, MDP, etc we previous poster mentioned.

Blair likes to tout themselves as a "global boutique" whatever that is. This is nonsense. They think they are some kind of rising elite boutique or something. I personally know someone who got dinged in an interview when he referred to Blair as a MM and the interviewer said "we're actually a global boutique". Like what dude? Get over yourself. They are a very solid MM shop and compete with other top MMs on deals, but are most definitely not an EB. I think they've broken into maybe two or three deals above 1 billion.

Culture is overrated in my opinion but that's subjective and the hours are sweaty. A lot of the guys there give off the "wanted to go to a BB but ended up here" vibe. Their culture is substantially different from other Chicago MM like Baird or Lincoln which is more typical Midwest and down to earth. Blair's culture from my (numerous) interactions from them is more like a BB or an EB which is fine, but might not be what you're looking for if you want Chicago MM as it's a pretty unique area of banking.

I can't speak to other offices.

Jan 17, 2020 - 2:10pm

Good insight and alternative perspective, vastly different from my experience and those of friends working there.

Interview question I got repeatedly from them: Why middle market?

Sounds like your friend was dealing with an asshole on a bad day or got dinged for other reasons.

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 17, 2020 - 2:28pm

I agree that probably was the case, but this stuff comes from the top down. Blair even lists on their website that they're a "global boutique". They are trying to rebrand to an elite boutique but dont have the deals to back it up.

Blair IS a great MM shop and is a great brand. But it should not be confused with an EB as some people there may try to brand it as.

Jan 17, 2020 - 2:19pm

Confirmed that base is $150,000 for A1. Based on my interactions with their recruiting team, I highly doubt that your friend was dinged solely over semantics. I spoke with members of both Baird and Blair recruiting teams, and the conversations and culture that was conveyed seemed very similar.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 17, 2020 - 2:18pm

I work at Blair, so I'm not a speculating college student

Reputation: in terms of middle market banking the reputation is good. Obviously it's not Goldman, but Blair is certainly a leading middle market bank and everyone in the business is familiar with it. The size of deals your work on can vary a lot. You could work on a $100M sell side or a $3B sell side, just depends.

Exit Ops (PE, etc.): a lot of people leave for PE and the results have a wide range. Most people go to funds between $300M-1,500M. Every other year or so someone goes to a MDP, GTCR, Thoma Bravo level fund. If you want to get a MM PE job you will be able to.

Salary: pay is a bit higher than most places. You start off making $85K for your first 6 months, then in January you get a raise to $90K base and a stub bonus of ~$35K. 1.5 years in you get a bonus around ~$85K and a raise to $95K. If you finish out your full two years (don't leave early) you get a $35K bonus in July 2 years after you start. This all comes out to around $170K a year for your 2 years as an analyst

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 17, 2020 - 2:33pm

Yes, particularly at the analyst level compensation is fairly standard firmwide across the globe. The first stub bonus you get is flat across all analysts (if you're in another country it's just $35,000 USD in whatever your local currency is). For the bonus 1.5 years in, its roughly 75 for bottom bucket, 85 for middle (almost everyone), 100 for top and 1 or 2 people who are above and beyond will get a little extra over $100

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 18, 2020 - 8:53am

Anyone know abt lateral ops from Blair? It seems like the type of place that would be pretty easy to lateral to a EB/BB from because it's probably one of the better banks where people will be looking to lateral, but curious if anyone has any data,

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 18, 2020 - 11:54am

I've seen people lateral to Moelis, JP Morgan and PWP. People don't really lateral that much, because contrary to popular belief on WSO not everyone is Goldman or die. I would say that honestly for a lot of my coworkers Blair was their #1 choice if they're from the Midwest and didn't want to work in a satellite office. We've actually have a good number of people lateral in from (after their internship or as full time from bigger banks)

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 20, 2020 - 4:42am

No one is arguing with that. I pretty much agree that 95% of the people wouldn't choose WB over "GS TMT NYC", in case they received an offer from the latter.
However, if we follow your logic, then every other bank becomes "minor" (e.g. Houlihan Lokey, UBS, Barclays, Jefferies, to name a few).
I just wanted to focus on WB, and didn't want to compare it with "elite" firms (as stated in the post). By doing so, instead of getting into any superiority vs inferiority issues, we can keep it more impartial and helpful.

  • Prospect in PE - Other
Jan 20, 2020 - 9:50am

I know someone who turned down a mid BB in NYC for Blair. The people are generally really nice and the MM space is very interesting. Also the deal flow you get is insane.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 20, 2020 - 5:19pm

know some people in HC and it's a complete sweatshop (many HC groups are tho) Industrials might be a little better. Can't speak to tech. Blair does very little full time recruiting as return offer rate is extremely high for interns. Not sure about lateral opportunities tho, ik they hired one less SA this year compared to last

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Dec 12, 2020 - 1:39pm

Friend interned at Blair, CnR is the smallest group and has the longest hours. Culture isn't great compared to how great this forum claims it is. 

  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 23, 2020 - 4:56pm

I know these comparisons are relatively meaningless, but how would you compare Blair to a place like UBS/DB? I know they're very different, but where's a better place to do an analyst stint? what about vs WF/RBC/etc

Jul 11, 2020 - 4:20pm

Basically comparing a top MM bank with bottom tier BB. It's about the same. You'll get MM PE looks from both places.

Culutre at WB might be better from what i hear in their chicago office but that's anecdotal

Most Helpful
Dec 11, 2020 - 11:26am

Burner account for obvious reasons. Worked at Blair recently and initially chose it over a top NY BB think (GS, MS, JPM) (independent thinking, holy crap!). There's just brutal information on this forum about banks in general and I would really advise people reading the website to take these opinions with a grain of salt. Often the website or a person's opinion can be brutally stale or worse just horribly wrong. Anyway here's really the important things to know about Blair:

The "Premier Boutique" thing is sorta bogus, but sorta true. They don't want to say mm because they are starting to creep to a different class than other mm firms, but they kinda are still mm. Deal size averages close to $~440 M in good groups over the last few years and has been inching up with deals ranging from like $120M deals to several billion. You never are going to see a deal above $5B, but posters are just wrong to say you won't see deals upwards of $1B. It's not the majority, but its common enough that it's not rare at all anymore. For context I have seen multiple $3B~ deals in the past couple months from them just on my linkedIn feed alone.

In terms of exits, it honestly comes back to culture and the type of people that recruit for Blair. Probably 4/7ish of the firm is either a Northwestern, Notre Dame, or Uchicago undergrad or MBA. By and large, it's a midwestern bank with the headquarters in Chicago (even in the satellite offices it has a midwestern vibe). As a result, most people that join the firm are looking to stay in the midwest and aren't gunning for a top megafund PE offer in NYC. About 1/4 will try to do A to A, and that is actively encouraged, as well as treating juniors with respect (it comes back to the midwestern values thing). Of the remaining 3/4 many just won't recruit for the buy-side because they aren't KKR or bust type people. Those that do recruit, often target middle market firms because close to 60% of Blairs transactions are working with mm PE fund clients. That said, if you want to recruit for a megafund, you will be able to if you are proactive. The people that I know who did want them were able to get interviews almost wherever they wanted it just required some effort (but very few at Blair want this in reality). The notion that lone analysts are somehow lateraling from Blair to another bank is asinine and basically unheard of, full stop. Do a linkedin search and you will see that the only people that leave are groups that were poached, which is just how the industry works. Better comp, better hours, better culture at Blair and if you really are the Goldman or bust type person you could just recruit for mm buy side after a year, do two years at that MM PE firm, then join a megafund. In reality, Blair analysts tend to develop greater appreciation for growth businesses and prefer to operate in that space after their time at Blair.

That said, if your dream job is to join a megafund, you should pick a BB over Blair likely. The truth is, on average, the businesses are smaller at Blair. You will see more transactions during your time and will have more client facing responsibility, but likely you will get less experience working on a complicated model of a $5B + acquisition that has a complicated capital structure and unique lending terms. Flip side, during my very first deal I was actively emailing our PE clients and their portfolio companies CEO/CFO, while the buy-side advisor had only their VP communicating with us. In other words, you likely won't be emailing clients or interacting with them at a BB, you will be in excel praying your model is going to tie. You won't be a deficient modeler coming out of Blair, but if you worked on a $5B + transaction and knew the model, other models will look simple.

Genuinely, if you can get any IB job it is amazing and most people on this forum need to secure an offer then have this discussion, but if you had both offers (like I did) here was what my decision came down to:

At WB you will work more frequently with clients, see more businesses, close more transactions, and you will understand the businesses better. It's much easier to actually understand how a $400M software company makes its money and its strategy versus understanding how Salesforce and Slack make their money and would effectively combine. You will learn more about broad growth strategy at a middle market. 

At a BB, you will work less with clients and see less transactions, but the transactions will be larger and more complex. You will likely be much deeper in a complicated model and will have a better understanding of confusing capital structures or the logistics of an industry altering merger. You will very likely not understand the strategy of the underlying business because there are too many things going on. In other words you will be mad deep in the model and will have a hard time seeing the forest through the trees.

A point to understand for undergrads reading this: there are less than 300 transactions >$1B in the US every year. By and large, many BB and some EB business model's are a whale hunting model, where they might chase a $10B deal in a sector for years and if they get the transaction after a few years of effort, it justifies the effort. MM's have a different business model where there are many more fish, but no one fish is going to feed the bank for years. A MM bank isn't worse than a BB, it's a deliberately differentiated business model. If you are interested in VC or growth investing, a good MM bank is undeniably a better choice, if you want to do mega-mergers or layoff 80% of a workforce, destroy capex spending, and muck up the capital structure of a good business, while working in an industry that certainly is overly mature and will see significantly slower growth during our lifetime preventing you from ever being a partner, join a BB and be Mega-fund or bust. 

On a serious note, for all you reading this forum, good luck in your process and keep your head up, it will workout in the end.

Dec 11, 2020 - 11:59am

Having clients blows. Really it was a cool job I think for a time, but long-term IB is a client service business and has brutally rigid promotion tracks. There is 0 way to accelerate the promotion track or differentiate yourself as a junior outside of being placed in a higher "bucket" which is really a joke in the larger scheme of things. If you have a greater propensity for risk-taking or are a unique thinker, I think IB is a great place to start a career, but you are wasting your life if you stay.

  • Incoming Analyst in IB-M&A
Dec 11, 2020 - 6:39pm

This was extremely insightful. The bank i'll be going to doesn't really promote a2a. Among those analysts at blair who want to go a2a as well as the associates and up who have done the a2a route, do they want to be lifers, or are/did they take the a2a to figure out what their next steps are going to be. I'm interested in the idea of potentially going a2a and to do that would have to lateral and blair would be #1 on the list of places to lateral to

  • Prospect in IB - Ind
Dec 11, 2020 - 7:09pm

What are some of the characteristics of the analysts who want to go a2a? Is it the top analysts who want to go a2a or is it more of the mid/low bucket?

  • Incoming Analyst in IB-M&A
Dec 11, 2020 - 8:30pm

How does pe recruiting work from blair. Do headhunters reach out to analysts about opportunities or is it done mostly through senior banker's connections or something else?

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Jan 19, 2021 - 2:16pm

Hello! could you speak to internal transfers at Blair? How does that work? Hard/easy?

Going to another group at firm, but would like to be in the tech group eventually. Thanks!

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 19, 2021 - 2:14pm

Good info. Was speaking more towards lateraling to a BB/EB, as you mentioned earlier. Have you seen others make that jump successfully from Blair? Any sightlines into that?

On your point on buyside recruiting, is on-cycle generally done (successfully) by Blair analysts? My impression with Blair and on-cycle is 1) WB not enough of a brand & 2) senior mgmt actively discouraging on cycle, leading to most analysts recruiting off-cycle. Is that the case, or am I off on that?

  • Prospect in IB - Ind
Jan 19, 2021 - 6:06pm

Could you summarize some of the points he made since he deleted them. Really curious about Blair. 

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jan 25, 2021 - 1:01pm

Anyone know more about comp for analysts? See things saying all over the place stuff (some say it's a partnership so pay is above street + cash bonuses, others saying it's below street). Anyone have up to date info?

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Mar 13, 2021 - 9:32pm

Keep seeing Blair in the top 3 for a bunch of WSO rating categories. Is the firm being pumped up by interns or is it actually underrated?

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Mar 14, 2021 - 11:51am

There's a few things: 1) It's not as much underrated, as college students just don't understand that jobs aren't really rankable and that any experience you gain is all about relevancy, your competence, and ability to sell your experience. As the poster above mentioned, because the firm does smaller deals on average when compared to wsj headlining deals, college students have less context/ have heard of the firm less. 2) College students also seem to think the size of transactions determine how "good" a bank is, which once people actually start working, anyone with a brain realizes how that isn't really accurate, especially on an individual experience, and relevancy to many types of investing level. 3) Due to smaller deals, the firm isn't ideal for mega fund investing, which seems to be what many college kids view as their dream job (with banking as a stepping stone). I don't know why this path is so obsessed over, but nonetheless it seems to be. Since this site is mainly college kids, you get a skew of misinformation that isn't aware of what actual outcomes are for the firm or bankers in general and the different funds out there, investment strategies, and career payoffs. 4) Because the firm has a very small east coast presence in terms of offices, there are many people who would scoff at the idea of doing IB in Chicago thinking nyc IB is the apex of finance. 5) The firm is rapidly growing and is very young relative to many other banks discussed. The perception of the firm 5 years ago compared to today among the sponsor community and the deals the firm did then and now are dramatically different. As a result, there is a lag in information regarding what college kids know about the firm and some individuals in the industry. However, if you are actively looking to transact or actively transact in the $300m-$2B ish range today you certainly will see Blair frequently, hence why the firm now is viewed highly among any firms that actively do deals below $2 B today. 6) For whatever reason, Blair seems to do a better job at promoting a culture that leaves people with a good taste in their mouth after leaving rather than extreme hatred toward the firm. Many ex-Blair employees seem to have positive things to say regarding culture and how their exit opportunities played out. Maybe it is self promotion by interns, but if you personally know anyone at Blair or who previously worked there, it's rare to find someone with very negative things to say about the firm minus just general industry complaints.

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