Published: Jan 26, 2021
Today, we're thrilled to release our 2021 Banking 25, a ranking of the best investment banking firms to work for in North America. The ranking is based on a survey of more than 3,000 banking professionals. Conducted this past fall, the survey asked banking professionals to rate their firms in several workplace categories, including culture, compensation, hours, training, work/life balance, overall satisfaction, and business outlook. They were also asked to rate firms other than their own in terms of prestige. A weighted formula, which includes these internal quality of life scores and external prestige scores, was used to create the Banking 25.
Here are the 10 Best Investment Banks to Work For in 2021 based on Vault’s Annual Banking Survey:
No. 1 Centerview “Invests Heavily in Developing its Bankers”
Centerview Partners ranks No. 1 overall for the second straight year, again earning the label of “Best Investment Banking Firm to Work For.” In addition to ranking No. 1 in the Banking 25, Centerview dominates our Quality of Life Rankings, ranking No. 1 in 13 workplace categories: Ability to Challenge, Business Outlook, Client Interaction, Compensation, Culture, Firm Leadership, Hiring Process, Informal Training, Promotion Policies, Overall Satisfaction, Relationships with Managers, Vacation Policies, and Work/Life Balance. The firm also ranks No. 5 in Prestige.
Centerview professionals tell us that the firm has a “great culture—everyone from top to bottom is genuine, respectful, extremely intelligent, interesting, and friendly.” They also say the firm “invests heavily in developing its bankers, including direct and active involvement from its co-founders and partners.” Junior bankers at the firm tells us that they’re given a “high degree of responsibility,” “many learning opportunities,” and “unmatched compensation.” Meanwhile, bankers at peer firms calling Centerview “the best M&A shop,” with a “solid reputation,” “great deal flow,” and “Fortune 50 clients.”
No. 2 Evercore Has an “Unparalleled Culture” with “Highly Intelligent People”
Evercore again ranks No. 2 overall and holds onto its No. 4 ranking in Prestige. In addition, it ranks No. 1 in Formal Training, and No. 2 in both Diversity for Women and LGBTQ+ Diversity. Evercore also places among the top five firms in 15 other workplace categories, including Ability to Challenge, Compensation, Culture, Firm Leadership, and Informal Training.
Evercore insiders tell us that the firm’s “unparalleled culture” is filled with “wonderful, highly intelligent people.” For junior bankers, a position with the firm offers an “exceptional learning opportunity”—the “deal flow is excellent,” and you get “a lot of responsibility” and “great access to senior bankers and clients.” Meanwhile, bankers at peer firms say Evercore is “the envy of a lot of boutiques” and “very highly sought after,” with “lots of large clients, great deal flow, and excellent buy-side opportunities.”
No. 3 Moelis, a “Top Elite Boutique,” Has “Achieved Significant Growth”
Moelis & Company skyrocketed seven places in the overall rankings this year to rank No. 3. Underscoring its exemplary treatment of its bankers, Moelis also ranks No. 1 in Benefits, No. 1 in Hours, and No. 1 in Wellness (a new category in our rankings this year). In addition, Moelis again ranks No. 7 in Prestige.
Moelis insiders say the firm’s “great culture” is “collaborative and inclusive,” “colleagues are great,” and junior bankers get “early responsibility” as well as “early client and senior banker exposure.” In addition, juniors get to a lot of “deal experience,” working on “high-profile, complex, and challenging deals.” Peer firm bankers tell us that Moelis is a “top elite boutique” that has “achieved significant growth—with more to come.” The firm is doing so well that one peer banker told us, “I’d sell my right arm to work there.”
Loop Capital, No. 1 in Overall Diversity, Is “Very Diverse” and an “Example for Many”
Chicago-based Loop Capital Markets, which ranks No. 18 overall, nearly sweeps our Diversity Rankings this year. Impressively, the firm ranks No. 1 in three out of four diversity categories: Overall Diversity, Racial & Ethnic Diversity, and Diversity for Women. It also ranks No. 4 in LGBTQ+ Diversity. According to Loop Capital insiders, “the acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals is great,” and the firm is “very diverse” “from an ethnicity/race perspective” and “very well managed”—"it’s an example for many.” Insiders tell us they’re “proud to work at a firm where there’s so much focus on diversity and inclusion.”
Bankers Comment on Their Firms’ Responses to Covid-19 and BLM Movement
In a year of unprecedented change, we added two new open-ended questions to our Banking Survey: one asking banking professionals to comment on their firms’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and another asking professionals to comment on their firms’ response to the anti-racist protests and Black Lives Matter movement. Vault’s new profiles of each firm that participated in our survey include direct quotes from professionals working there.
With respect to the pandemic, insiders comment on everything from work-from-home tech support and childcare reimbursements to office safety measures and the tone of senior leadership messaging. With respect to the BLM movement, insiders discuss public messaging from their firms, formal changes in D&I initiatives, monetary pledges their firms have made, open dialogues organized by their firms, and more.
Bethel Hailemichael is an associate in the Healthcare & Life Sciences Group at Harris Williams, a global investment bank specializing in M&A advisory services. Since March, Bethel has been working remotely from his home in the Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia, the firm’s headquarters.
Each year, Vault surveys thousands of investment banking professionals, asking them to rate their firms in several workplace categories. Today, on Women's Equality Day—which commemorates the passing of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote—we took a close look at the differences between how male and female professionals rated their firms in our annual Banking Survey over the past decade.
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