Your thoughts on William Blair & Company?

Lehman_Bro's picture
Rank: Baboon | 146

I know it's not an "Elite" boutique, but I'm interested in your personal thoughts on these 3 things:

  • Reputation (GS is said to have discussed buying WB, but talks broke off)
  • Exit Ops (PE, etc.)
  • Salary (I heard the pay is above average being an LLC)

Thank you!

Comments (42)

Controversial
Jan 17, 2020

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.

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Jan 17, 2020

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

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.

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Jan 19, 2020

It is group-specific as noted above. Analysts in their technology and healthcare groups place quite well.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 20, 2020

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 20, 2020

Thank you for the insight!

Jan 17, 2020

They pay fine, decent brand.

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Jan 17, 2020

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.

Array

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Jan 20, 2020

Thank you for the insight!

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 17, 2020

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.

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Jan 17, 2020

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.

Array

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 17, 2020

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.

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Jan 17, 2020

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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Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 17, 2020

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

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 17, 2020

Is this comp consistent across all groups?

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 17, 2020

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

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  • Intern in IB - Ind
Jan 17, 2020

Clawbacks if you leave early?

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 17, 2020

All cash, no clawback on bonus. They generally don't even ask for your signing bonus back unless you go to a competitor

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Jan 20, 2020

Thank you for the insight!

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 18, 2020

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

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)

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 20, 2020

Have you seen kids from other MM banks lateral to WB - whether after internship for FT or as an analyst?

Jan 20, 2020

Thank you for the insight!

Jan 19, 2020

Most of these comments are bullshit. Obviously no one with an offer from a top BB/EB would select Blair over that, but it's still a great firm and you could do significantly worse. It's among the best MM firms.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 20, 2020

Don't say that if you work for DB, UBS, HSBC, Macquarie, Nomura, Oppenheimer to name a few.
But that's not the topic of discussion. Spam.

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Funniest
Jan 20, 2020

Very insightful - thanks!

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 19, 2020

for sure better than UBS etc

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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 20, 2020

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.

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  • Prospect in PE - Other
Jan 20, 2020

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.

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  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jan 20, 2020

Anyone familiar with hours / lateral opportunities? Do they have a preference for people in Chicago already or would they consider NYC candidates?

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 20, 2020

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

May 23, 2020
Comment
  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 23, 2020