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Best Investment Banks to Work for in 2021

“Those who say don’t know and those who know don’t say.” – Micheal Lewis

The above quote crisply summarizes why MBA graduates covet a career in Investment banking. Reserved for the brilliant few, only a handful (5%-10%) from even the Top MBA programs get an opportunity to make careers in Investment Banking. Such is the allure of working in an Investment Bank on Wall Street. The literal heart of the economy.

Best Investment Banks in 2020

Power, Prestige, and Dominance. An Investment banking job begets all this and more. However, what are the Best Investment Banks to Work for in 2020? In this article, we explore exactly that and more, here is a brief outline of the topics we will cover:

What Skills Investment Banks Look for in MBA Graduates?

Skills and Qualities Investment Banks look for in Candidates

“Passionate, collaborative and driven.”

These are the top 3 qualities that Goldman Sachs looks for in MBA graduates, according to Michael Desmarais, Managing Director at Goldman Sachs and Global Head of Talent.

Besides the above, technical knowledge and intellectual curiosity are 2 important qualities that Goldman Sachs looks for during the interview and hiring process. Candidates must have more than a passing interest in the finance industry. A clear understanding of the events happening around them and how it relates to the financial services world conveys a genuine and sincere interest in an investment banking career.

Maturity and Sophistication in Client Interactions

Investment Banking is also a lot about solving some pretty difficult problems for their clients. Thus, candidates also require a high level of maturity and sophistication in client interactions. Last but not the least, good judgment and high integrity (shown through professional & personal experiences) are two other important qualities that successful candidates must possess.

Non-Traditional Backgrounds are an Advantage

A common myth prevalent among MBA candidates is that they should have direct experience in finance roles or equivalent qualifications. However, according to Michael, “We have a very strong appetite for non-traditional backgrounds.” While it is true that investment banks operate in the financial services industry, the clients served by them consists of every industry imaginable. Thus, employees get opportunities for exposure across a broad range of industries.

Involvement in B-School Clubs & Activities a Plus

Involvement in clubs and activities that align with your career interests in investment banking is another aspect that is highly valued. For e.g. participating in finance clubs, investment banking clubs and sales and trading clubs on campus is a great way to develop skills and build leadership experience.

Best Investment Banks to Work for in 2020: Rankings Methodology

Best Investment Banks - Ranking Methodology

Every year since 2007, Vault, a leading collector of market intelligence data for employer ratings and reviews conducts surveys of investment banking professionals. These 2 surveys, which were completed by over 3300 respondents (up from 2800 in 2019) are used to compute the best investment banks to work for rankings in 2020.

Using a 10-point scale, respondents evaluate the “Prestige” of their peer firms based on the perception of their performance and their own personal experiences with these firms. In the second part of the survey, respondents rate their own employers in 23 satisfaction-related categories such as:

    • Compensation/Pay
    • Training
    • Culture
  • Leadership
  • Diversity
  • Work-Life balance

These scores are then combined using a weighted formula to calculate the overall rankings. Following are the weights assigned to the different categories:

  • Prestige (40%)
  • Culture (20%)
  • Compensation (10%)
  • Business Outlook (10%)
  • Overall Satisfaction (10%)
  • Work-Life Balance (5%)
  • Training (5%)

These weights are the same as the 2019 and 2018 rankings. Thus, the scores from the previous are directly comparable to this year’s scores.

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Best Investment Banks to Work for in 2020: Rankings & Analysis

Centerview Partners Claims the #1 Spot

There is no bigger name than Goldman Sachs in Investment banking. However, this year, it was upstaged by both Evercore and Centerview partners and finished third overall. Evercore produced its best overall score to finish 2nd. Centerview claimed the #1 spot, remarkable as it ranked 9th just six years ago.

A Strong Showing Ranking #1 in 13 Different Measures

In 2020, Centerview received an 8.586 cumulative index score, a significant improvement from its 8.169 it notched 3 years ago. The firm produced the highest scores overall in 13 different measures including:

  • Ability to Challenge
  • Business Outlook
  • Client Interaction
  • Compensation
  • Culture
  • Firm Leadership
  • Promotion Policies
  • Work-Life Balance

A strong showing compared to 2019 where it ranked #1 in just 3 categories, jumping to #1 in 10 categories in 1 year! In the other categories where they didn’t rank #1, Centerview improved their performance across the board. Overall, it scored the highest in Firm Leadership with a 9.859 score. It also scored high in:

  • Formal Training (9.809)
  • Culture (9.708)
  • Business Outlook (9.685)
  • Compensation (9.676)
  • Client Interaction (9.630)

To summarize, Centerview Employees are well-trained, well-paid, highly engaged and positive about the future. A hard combination to beat!

Following are the 2020 rankings for the Best Investment Banks to Work for in 2020:

Firm Name 2020 Rank (2019 Rank) 2020 Score (2019 Score) Change in Rank Change in Score
Centerview Partners 1 (3) 8.586 (8.286) 2 0.3
Evercore 2 (2) 8.507 (8.372) 0 0.135
Goldman Sachs & Co. 3 (1) 8.244 (8.431) -2 -0.187
Morgan Stanley 4 (4) 8.098 (8.014) 0 0.084
Guggenheim Securities 5 (8) 7.886 (7.729) 3 0.157
Bank of America Corp. 6 (9) 7.792 (7.687) 3 0.105
Perella Weinberg Partners 7 (7) 7.791 (7.802) 0 -0.011
Lazard 7 (10) 7.791 (7.597) 3 0.194
PJT Partners 9 (21) 7.766 (2.263) 12 5.503
Moelis & Company 10 (6) 7.753 (7.805) -4 -0.052
Greenhill & Co. 11 (5) 7.528 (7.885) -6 -0.357
Houlihan Lokey 12 (11) 7.479 (7.446) -1 0.033
William Blair 13 (12) 7.265 (7.271) -1 -0.006
Harris Williams & Company 14 (14) 7.055 (6.756) 0 0.299
Peter J. Solomon Company 15 (13) 7.01 (6.839) -2 0.171
Cowen Group, Inc. 16 (15) 6.53 (6.407) -1 0.123
Nomura 17 (37) 6.277 (1.65) 20 4.627
BMO Capital Markets 18 (32) 6.209 (1.703) 14 4.506
UBS 19 (16) 6.207 (6.284) -3 -0.077
Loop Capital 20 (17) 4.985 (5.722) -3 -0.737
J.P. Morgan Investment Bank 21 (18) 3.24 (3.244) -3 -0.004
Credit Suisse (Investment Bank) 22 (19) 2.47 (2.491) -3 -0.021
Barclays (Investment Bank) 23 (20) 2.408 (2.392) -3 0.016
Citi Institutional Clients Group 24 (22) 2.299 (2.258) -2 0.041
Rothschild & Co. 25 (24) 2.276 (2.203) -1 0.073
Jefferies & Company 26 (23) 2.258 (2.204) -3 0.054
Qatalyst Partners 27 (26) 2.156 (2.098) -1 0.058
Allen & Company LLC 28 (25) 2.116 (2.131) -3 -0.015
RBC Capital Markets 29 (28) 1.899 (1.887) -1 0.012
Macquarie Group 30 (30) 1.87 (1.792) 0 0.078
Piper Jaffray 31 (31) 1.844 (1.759) 0 0.085
Wells Fargo & Company 32 (29) 1.833 (1.87) -3 -0.037
Oppenheimer & Co. 33 (33) 1.686 (1.687) 0 -0.001
LionTree Advisors 34 (40) 1.678 (1.609) 6 0.069
BNP Paribas USA 35 (36) 1.667 (1.651) 1 0.016
HSBC North America Holdings 36 (38) 1.654 (1.616) 2 0.038
Deutsche Bank AG 37 (27) 1.653 (2.205) -10 -0.552
Bank of New York Mellon Corporation 38 (39) 1.584 (1.611) 1 -0.027
Raymond James Financial, Inc. 39 (43) 1.578 (1.546) 4 0.032
Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co., LLC 40 (44) 1.56 (1.523) 4 0.037
Robert W. Baird & Company (Baird) 41 (34) 1.557 (1.682) -7 -0.125
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) 42 (41) 1.557 (1.606) -1 -0.049
Cantor Fitzgerald & Co. 43 (42) 1.529 (1.568) -1 -0.039
Societe Generale Corporate & Investment Banking 44 (45) 1.528 (1.51) 1 0.018
Deloitte Corporate Finance LLC 45 (35) 1.525 (1.674) -10 -0.149
Stifel Financial Corp. 46 (46) 1.51 (1.493) 0 0.017
EY Global Financial Services 47 (47) 1.489 (1.491) 0 -0.002
Brown Brothers Harriman 48 (48) 1.425 (1.454) 0 -0.029
Mizuho Financial Group 49 (NR) 1.414 (NA) NA NA
SunTrust Banks 50 (NR) 1.384 (NA) NA NA

Centerview is Highly Respected by Peer Bankers in terms of Prestige

In the prestige rankings, which makes up 40% of the overall rankings score, Centerview jumped up to #5 with a 7.147 score, as compared to a 4.412 score in 2010. The firm has come a long way in terms of respect in the minds of peer bankers.

Centerview has been described as “the hardest job to get.” It is focused on M&A advisory and restructuring, advising on marquee deals such as the sale of 21st Century Fox to Disney. To date, it has advised on over $3 trillion worth of transactions while employing 350 people in 5 offices.

All employees below MD are groomed to rise up and lead client-facing strategic thinking and financial advisory. These responsibilities and opportunities make for an unparalleled experience according to employees.

Evercore: A Meritocracy with a Flat & Entrepreneurial Culture

Evercore with 1900 employees is more than 5 times the size of Centerview Partners, with clients such as Kraft, Dell, T-Mobile, and Whole Foods. It is described by reviewers as a “meritocracy” that disregards politics and rewards generously. According to another reviewer it boasts of an “extremely flat and entrepreneurial culture that allows direct deal and client exposure from day 1.” This creates a range of opportunities.

Goldman Sachs: A Competitive Culture Driven by Feedback

Goldman Sachs rounds out the top-3 – immortalized in pop culture as a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”, by Rolling Stone magazine. Its impressive alumnus includes current and former US Government Treasury Secretaries Steve Mnuchin, Hank Paulson and Larry Summers.

Over 150 years old, Goldman Sachs is viewed as an exemplar of tradition – a firm that rejects more applicants than elite institutions such as Harvard University and even the Navy SEALS. It has a culture that thrives on feedback, collaboration, and competitiveness.

However, in 2020 it ranked between 13th – 15th places in six categories and below 15th place in 10 categories such as:

  • Business Outlook
  • Compensation
  • Culture
  • Firm Leadership
  • Hours
  • Informal Training
  • Promotion Policies
  • Work-Life Balance

To summarize, survey respondents viewed themselves as overworked, underpaid and alienated from leadership. Thus, bearing a cynical outlook towards the future. However, these issues may be temporary as the firm is going through restructuring under its new CEO David Solomon. With a focus on solving key issues related to understaffing and manpower.

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The Most Prestigious Investment Banks to Work for in 2020: Rankings & Analysis

Best Investment Banks for Prestige in 2020

Goldman Sachs: The Most Prestigious Firm to Work for in 2020

They say the more that something changes, the more it remains the same. This is true for the prestige rankings as 47 of the 50 institutions ranked last year return this year as well. Goldman Sachs placed #1 for the 14th year in a row with Morgan Stanley, Evercore, J.P. Morgan and Centerview Partners rounding out the top 5.

Following are the most prestigious investment banks to work for in 2020:

Firm Name 2020 Rank (2019 Rank) 2020 Score (2019 Score) Change in Rank Change in Score
Goldman Sachs & Co. 1 (1) 8.917 (8.898) 0 0.019
Morgan Stanley 2 (2) 8.211 (8.166) 0 0.045
J.P. Morgan Investment Bank 3 (3) 8.1 (8.11) 0 -0.01
Evercore 4 (4) 7.456 (7.115) 0 0.341
Centerview Partners 5 (6) 7.147 (6.831) 1 0.316
Lazard 6 (5) 7.043 (7.035) -1 0.008
Moelis & Company 7 (7) 6.535 (6.267) 0 0.268
Bank of America Corp. 8 (9) 6.313 (6.214) 1 0.099
Credit Suisse (Investment Banking Division) 9 (8) 6.176 (6.227) -1 -0.051
PJT Partners 10 (13) 6.118 (5.658) 3 0.46
Perella Weinberg Partners 11 (11) 6.058 (5.87) 0 0.188
Barclays (Investment Bank) 12 (10) 6.02 (5.981) -2 0.039
Greenhill & Co. 13 (12) 5.953 (5.748) -1 0.205
Guggenheim Securities 14 (17) 5.791 (5.506) 3 0.285
Citi Institutional Clients Group 15 (14) 5.748 (5.645) -1 0.103
Rothschild & Co. 16 (16) 5.689 (5.507) 0 0.182
Jefferies & Co. 17 (15) 5.646 (5.51) -2 0.136
UBS Investment Banking 18 (18) 5.459 (5.49) 0 -0.031
Qatalyst Partners 19 (20) 5.39 (5.246) 1 0.144
Houlihan Lokey 20 (21) 5.3 (5.073) 1 0.227
Allen & Company LLC 21 (19) 5.291 (5.328) -2 -0.037
RBC Capital Markets 22 (23) 4.748 (4.717) 1 0.031
Macquarie Group 23 (26) 4.674 (4.48) 3 0.194
William Blair & Company 24 (25) 4.645 (4.481) 1 0.164
Piper Jaffray Companies 25 (27) 4.611 (4.398) 2 0.213
Wells Fargo (Investment Banking & Capital Markets) 26 (24) 4.583 (4.674) -2 -0.091
BMO Capital Markets 27 (28) 4.301 (4.258) 1 0.043
Oppenheimer & Co. 28 (29) 4.214 (4.217) 1 -0.003
LionTree Advisors 29 (37) 4.196 (4.022) 8 0.174
BNP Paribas USA 30 (32) 4.168 (4.127) 2 0.041
Peter J. Solomon Company 31 (34) 4.143 (4.085) 3 0.058
HSBC North America Holdings 32 (35) 4.135 (4.04) 3 0.095
Deutsche Bank AG 33 (22) 4.132 (5.063) -11 -0.931
Cowen Group, Inc. 34 (39) 4.071 (3.954) 5 0.117
Harris Williams & Company 35 (46) 4.039 (3.684) 11 0.355
Bank of New York Mellon Corporation 36 (36) 3.961 (4.027) 0 -0.066
Raymond James Financial, Inc. 37 (41) 3.944 (3.866) 4 0.078
Nomura 38 (33) 3.936 (4.124) -5 -0.188
Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co., LLC 39 (42) 3.899 (3.808) 3 0.091
Robert W. Baird & Company (Baird) 40 (30) 3.893 (4.206) -10 -0.313
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) 41 (38) 3.892 (4.016) -3 -0.124
Cantor Fitzgerald 42 (40) 3.822 (3.921) -2 -0.099
Societe Generale Corporate & Investment Banking 43 (43) 3.821 (3.775) 0 0.046
Deloitte Corporate Finance LLC 44 (31) 3.813 (4.185) -13 -0.372
Stifel Financial Corp. 45 (44) 3.775 (3.733) -1 0.042
EY Global Financial Services 46 (45) 3.722 (3.728) -1 -0.006
Brown Brothers Harriman 47 (47) 3.563 (3.634) 0 -0.071
Mizuho Financial Group 48 (NR) 3.536 (NA) NA NA
SunTrust Banks 49 (NR) 3.459 (NA) NA NA
Sandler O’Neill + Partners 50 (NR) 3.457 (NA) NA NA

Best Investment Banks to Work for in 2020: Diversity Rankings

Best Investment Banks for Diversity in 2020

Bank of America retained its #1 spot in the diversity rankings. This is despite losing 0.232 of a point. Similarly, Evercore and William Blair came in at #2 and #3 respectively, despite losing 0.117 and 0.30 of a point. Centerview and Morgan Stanley bucked this trend and gained 0.15 of a point or more to come in a #7 and #8 respectively.

Following are the overall Investment Banking Diversity Rankings:

Firm Name 2020 Rank (2019 Rank) 2020 Score (2019 Score) Change in Rank Change in Score
Bank of America Corp. 1 (1) 9.049 (9.281) 0 -0.232
Evercore 2 (2) 8.809 (8.926) 0 -0.117
William Blair 3 (4) 8.571 (8.87) 1 -0.299
Goldman Sachs & Co. 4 (7) 8.258 (8.216) 3 0.042
Parella Weinberg 5 (8) 8.1 (8.111) 3 -0.011
Guggenheim Securities 6 (5) 8.029 (8.581) -1 -0.552
Centerview Partners 7 (9) 7.964 (7.804) 2 0.16
Morgan Stanley 8 (10) 7.916 (7.767) 2 0.149
Loop Capital 9 (3) 7.913 (8.906) -6 -0.993
Cowen Group, Inc. 10 (12) 7.695 (7.459) 2 0.236
BMO Capital Markets 11 (NR) 7.667 (NA) NA NA
Nomura Holdings, Inc. 12 (NR) 7.525 (NA) NA NA
PJT Partners 13 (NR) 7.457 (NA) NA NA
Moelis & Company 14 (11) 7.376 (7.65) -3 -0.274
Greenhill & Co. 15 (6) 7.365 (8.281) -9 -0.916

 

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Data Source: Vault

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