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Overview

Introduction

Cowen is a top investment bank that offers interns hands-on live deal experience and exposure to senior bankers and clients. Full-time junior bankers get access to a structured training program, an “apprenticeship” learning model, and many wellness benefits. Underscoring its commitment to diversity, Cowen recently created a new head of D&I position.

Company Stats


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Employer Type


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Size


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Featured Rankings

Vault Banking 25...


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Major Office Locations

Beijing, China...


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Employment Contact

Jane Gerhard...

Firsthand Findings

Cowen is looking for smart, driven, hardworking team players who are eager to learn and have strong academic track records. Knowledge of financial modeling, valuation, and analysis helps, but is not required. For students, the firm runs an excellent internship program, offering interns hands-on live deal experience and exposure to senior bankers and clients. Lean deal teams mean interns get a significant amount of responsibility. In addition, senior bankers are willing to help and teach interns.

With respect to full-time junior bankers, the firm gives them ample room to contribute from day one and learn on the job. There is a structured training program, and the ‘apprenticeship’ model works well. Junior bankers get a lot of hands-on experience very early, and lea...

About the Company

Cowen, Inc. is a diversified financial services company focused on active management and alpha generation. It has two main business units: Cowen and Company, a full-service growth investment bank that provides specialized research (equity and credit as well as Washington policy research commentaries), investment banking advice, non-conflicted trading and execution services, and prime brokerage services; and Cowen Investment Management, an alternative investment manager that offers a range of differentiated alpha-generating alternative investment products and services.

Cowen and Company is focused on certain sectors of the U.S. economy such as industrials, energy, health care, technology, media and teleco...

Employee Reviews


  • “The firm and management understand everyone has a life outside of the office and they’re always willing to give time off if needed. I think the work/life balance is great and has become even better with working from home. I may be working more than when I was in the office, but having a setup at home is less stressful and easier to deal with things after hours.”
  • “I’ve been on two teams since I joined the firm, and each has been mutually good and bad simultaneously for different reasons. My first team was very fast-paced, and I had greater exposure to clients and senior bankers but the hours were horrible. The second team is less dynamic, and there’s more layers (less exposure to seniors and clients), but the work/life balance is much better, and I feel very content with my current workload.”
  • “We don’t have protected Saturdays. While I do end up getting Saturday off 50 to 60 percent of the time, the issue is that regardless of what ultimately happens, I feel obliged to constantly check my email, and the ‘unknown’ of whether I'll be called sits in my head all day long. As a result, even if I do end up getting the entire day off, it never really feels like a true break.”
  • “Best aspect is flexibility. I don’t punch a clock and can ‘come and go’ as I please. I often will carve out an hour or 90 minutes in the middle of the afternoon, and then make it up working after dinner. Work from home has made this easier, but Cowen provided me the flexibility to do this even before Covid.”
  • “Overall, I believe the compensation packages to be competitive to better than like-sized firms and competitive to a bit lower compared to bulge brackets. Health care-related benefits are very good. Two weak areas: 1) 401(k) company match is low and has been the same for years—stuck in post financial crisis mode and doesn't reflect the financial success that the employees have helped the firm to achieve. 2) No real paternity policy, which, for a firm that’s progressive in so many other ways, seems out of character and a bit of an old fashioned way of thinking.”
  • “Pay is okay and perks are okay. Not the best or worst, very middle of the road.”
  • “Bonus is great, salary is below Street average, and no distinguishable perks, which is a huge blind spot in my opinion. If you’re not going to offer any perks, then pay at the top of the industry range.”
  • “Being a boutique bank, many ‘perks’ are not offered, but personal and family time is heavily valued, and that means a lot.”
  • “If you’re a hard worker and willing to put in the time, senior bankers invest in your growth and try to give you opportunities to develop in areas of interest. At the same time, they’re interested in pushing you and putting you in situations to help turn weaknesses into strengths. The healthcare team is phenomenal and supported my switch internally from the healthcare group to the M&A group.”
  • “Of the many employers I’ve had, Cowen has the best all-around culture. It is generally very team-oriented, not as a talking point but in real life. Managers expect us to work across verticals and across product areas, and most people in the organization are eager to do so. As a mid-senior level employee, however, I feel the firm could do a better job promoting opportunities to transfer to other areas within the firm and with executive mentoring.”
  • “Senior people at the firm want associates to do well and give them ample room to contribute from day one. The work is interesting, and there is always something to do. While there isn’t a formalized training program, the ‘apprenticeship’ model works. On the negative side, the path and timeline for promotions isn’t entirely clear—and is typically catalyzed by a senior person leaving. That being said, the firm is working to improve this by spelling out the steps involved in ramping to become a senior analyst and providing more mentorship along the way.”
  • “You get a lot of hands-on experience very early. Lean deal teams allows for junior bankers to touch on all aspects of the job. Very client facing even from an entry-level position. Not really any applicable formal training. Very much learn as you go, which is great most of the time but isn’t the best for a lot of little firm-specific semantics—especially when you start remotely.”
  • “We just hired a head of D&I, and that search was already under way before the BLM movement took hold. I see Cowen as being proactive about diversity rather than reactive, which is encouraging. We have a long way to go in terms of actual diverse employee, management, and executive composition, but the firm is taking the right steps forward.”
  • “We are an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ community and the problems regarding the gender disparity in banking. These policies make me proud to work for Cowen.”
  • “The company matches up to $2,500 in personal donations. There’s a committee that approves matches, and is working to provide ideas and ways for each office/individual to give back. We also starting participating in Good Today where each employee chooses from one of two groups to give to and Cowen pays. It’s a great way to feel involved on a daily basis.”
  • “The firm is definitely all for giving back to organizations and charities. There are daily emails sent out for picking which charity to donate to and support. In the overall firm, there is definitely a diverse group of people, but in investment banking there’s less diversity. I don’t think this is an issue with the firm not hiring as diverse of people; it’s because more diverse people don’t go into investment banking (at least that’s what I’ve picked up from my broader social circle and education experience).”
  • “In the last six months, the firm has announced its two best quarterly results ever—the current momentum at the firm is unprecedented and notable given Covid headwinds.”
  • “CEO leadership is exceptional; middle management is a mixed bag. The firm is very strong in healthcare and equity capital markets; other areas such as M&A and tech banking are weaker.”
  • “Very well positioned to capitalize on the current momentum. Currently very focused in the SPAC market and have led a number of high profile SPACs transactions and SPAC IPOs. Overall, this has actually been a very strong period for our business, with trading activity high, strong banking markets, and now significantly lower expenses.”
  • “Cowen is incredibly well positioned going forward. We’re big enough that we’re very important to clients, but small enough to be nimble and make quick changes and adjustments where necessary. Morale is high, and the culture is great.”
  • “I only have good things to say. I was staffed on lean deal teams and got a significant amount of responsibility. I was exposed to seniors at my firm as well as clients on a daily basis.”
  • “It was a very unique experience working on a small team in the distressed field, an area not too many college students are able to intern in. It was great that I could get experience in different areas, from sourcing subrogation claims to bookkeeping a convertible note issue. Due to the smaller aspect of the team, I didn’t have the opportunity to meet too many people.”
  • “Great taste of what it’s really like as a full-time employee. Lots of responsibility early on, and everyone is willing to help/teach you. The negatives are that because of this responsibility, it’s a relatively intense intern experience not meant for all. Great opportunity for those who are hardworking, eager to learn, and focused on getting a return-offer.”
  • “Corporate culture was supportive, creative, and inclusive. We learned because team members invested in our development. I really enjoyed that I was exposed to all aspects of investment banking.”

Wellness Efforts

  • “When I was in office, I loved the meditation classes, but the time was switched and it was no longer possible for me to attend. During the pandemic, several virtual programs were started that are appealing, but I have not participated because of time constraints.”
  • “They do a lot—it’s a challenge to take advantage of it all! They have standing desks, discounts for gyms, incentives for Fitbit usage, and various other programs.”
  • “There are sometimes month-long exercise challenges to get 10,000 steps a day, which I’ve really enjoyed and hope Cowen will consider doing every month.”
  • “We have great wellness efforts. Whether it’s discounted gym memberships, fitness reimbursements, or health food around the office, Cowen cares about people and their families.”

 

Response to Anti-Racist Protests and BLM Movement

  • “Cowen’s CEO fully supports and actively speaks out against racial inequity. Leadership roundtables and inclusion series are held regularly to educate colleagues on the importance of an inclusive culture and having diverse perspectives.”
  • “It was an inspiring response on behalf of our CEO. In addition to a live ‘town hall’ discussion, our CEO sent a thoughtful, lengthy email that I was proud to forward to my wife for her to read.”
  • “I think what we’ve said has been good, but the actual hiring has lagged. We recently hired a diversity head that will look to change this.”
  • “From the top down (CEO level) we actively and visibly supported the movements, and we're open to exploring ideas internally, seeing where we could improve, and soliciting feedback.”

Response to Covid-19

  • “We were one of the first to WFM. The firm has been very supportive and transparent throughout, and there’s no pressure to return before people feel comfortable. Very satisfied with our response.”
  • “Responded very rapidly to Covid shutdowns. Employees went remote faster than nearly all other competitors, and we didn’t lose any productivity. IT systems were fully supported, and we had excellent corporate wide communication.”
  • “Senior leadership and the entire firm reacted to the pandemic quickly, thoughtfully, intelligently and with empathy. The level of communication from leadership, HR, and our communications team was second to none. We were given consistent updates, and the firm responded quickly to add and modify benefit offerings to meet our changing needs.”
  • “They were quick to order employees to work from home and offer reimbursement for computer equipment (for home use). Management has been really good about communicating to employees about steps they’re taking to handle their response to the pandemic. They haven’t said anything definitive about when they want employees back in the office, except that they won’t force anyone to return if they don’t want to.”

Getting Hired Here


  • “Relatively standard process, from phone screening candidates to Superdays. We often have group heads make calls at the end to add a personal touch. The ideal candidate embodies Cowen values (engages in tenacious teamwork, strives to outperform each day, always empathizes, etc.), is very strong technically, and excels at building relationships with clients and colleagues.”
  • “Ideal candidate has a strong academic track record; expresses interest and has prior experience in financial modeling, valuation, and analysis; can handle multiple responsibilities at once; takes initiative with projects, clubs, jobs, etc.; and is most importantly not full of themselves and understands they have a lot to learn and the importance of working well with others. Also, diverse backgrounds are highly sought after, in addition to merit-based qualifiers, as diversity recruiting is very important to the firm.”
  • “We usually make offers within 24 to 48 hours after the final round interview. The ideal candidate is not necessarily the smartest person with the highest GPA, but rather one that has a strong desire to work hard, is ambitious, fits the company culture, and is pleasant to be around.”
  • “Seeking people who are smart, driven, and good at working on a team, and have good social awareness and the ability to learn and ask questions. We do not require prior technical knowledge, just the ability and willingness to learn.”
  • “Can you walk me through an operating model at a high level? What are some industries you’ve been following and what are the key themes?”
  • “Can you be empathic and still win business? What does it mean to you to consistently outperform? How do you keep your mind sharp when work becomes routine?”
  • “We use four pillars of interviewing: education/experience, technicals, interest/readiness, and culture fit.”
  • “Besides the resume questions, there was the classic walk me through a DCF and any follow-up questions for that model, certain case study questions revolving around comparable companies analyses (given this situation/company, what types of industries would you look for in doing a comps analysis), and questions about recent books you’ve read and current events. I also vividly remember being asked, ‘Where would you find circular references in an LBO?’"

Perks & Benefits