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Overview

Introduction

Harris Williams is an investment bank based in Virginia that specializes in M&A advisory. It’s been named “M&A Mid-Market Investment Bank of the Year” and “Investment Banking Firm of the Year” by Mergers & Acquisitions. The firm’s excellent internship program gives interns live-deal experience and exposure to senior management. Its culture is collaborative and open—the firm is very focused on diversity recruiting and mentorship, and has substantial D&I programs.

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Featured Rankings

Vault Banking 25...


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Major Departments

Aerospace, Defense & Government...


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Major Office Locations

Boston, MA, US...

Firsthand Findings

 

Harris Williams is  looking for candidates with strong communication, analytical, and technical skills who are hungry to learn and willing to work hard. For undergraduate and MBA students, the firm runs an excellent 10-week internship program in which interns get hands-on, exceptional live-deal experience, exposure to senior management, and exposure to Harris Williams’ collaborative and open culture. Harris Williams also offers a two-week MBA Boot Camp Program for rising undergraduate seniors.

For its full-time junior bankers, Harris Williams offers excellent mentorship opportunities and top-notch on-the-job training. Analysts are encouraged to accept third-year offers with the firm or stay on as associates, but for those seeking PE ...

About the Company

Harris Williams is an M&A advisor with offices in Boston, Cleveland, Frankfurt, London, Minneapolis, Richmond, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The firm advises clients worldwide on the sale of their companies, helps them identify growth opportunities for their businesses, and enables them to realize their investments. Since the firm's founding three decades ago, M&A advisory has been its hallmark. 

The firm regularly wins awards and honors from top industry publications. In 2019, it was named Outstanding Private Equity Investment Bank of the Year by Global M&A Network. In 2018, Harris Williams was named Investment Banking Firm of the Year by M&A Advisor as well as Private Equity M&A Investment Bank of the Year by Global M&A Network. In 2017, Mergers & Acquisi...

Employee Reviews


  • “It's difficult to imagine an investment banking firm with a better culture. Of course, the job is tough and the hours are long, but the people are incredibly supportive and the environment is very collegial. Criticism is constructive and performance-focused, and it’s very rare to hear of anyone who’s difficult to work with on a personal level. I think Harris Williams does a very good job of screening new hires to make sure culture stays the way it is. The hours can be long, which is obviously standard in banking and even more so in boutique banks that run lean deal teams—there's generally only one analyst and associate per deal, which means taking a break, whether for a night or actual vacation, difficult depending on the stage of the deal. That said, a lot more mid-level and senior bankers here have families than at some other banks, and carving out evening time to spend with partners/children is really encouraged, even if there’s not official policy around it. Overall, work/life balance is tough, but I think that’s largely a function of the industry and believe that Harris Williams really does care about its employees and tries to make things as manageable as possible.”
  • “The firm is very committed to a healthy work/life balance and making sure each employee is able to enjoy the appropriate amount of downtime. There are also no expectations in terms of time in office v. out (i.e., no face time policy). The only expectation is that the work is being completed on time and meets expectations. The firm also does an excellent job promoting out-of-office activities, which goes a long way. More recently, the firm has done an excellent job navigating the work-from-home dynamic and has taken extreme measures to make sure every single employee is equipped with the appropriate tools to work efficiently and effectively in what could have been a challenging work environment.”
  • “Harris Williams openly communicates the importance of making sure everyone is staying healthy and not continuously overloaded with work. Much effort is placed on ensuring that groups are also having fun outside the office while able to spend quality time with families. Work from home/Covid has slowed some of this and made it difficult for people to realize how much they’re asking of their teams at times. But everyone has the ability and voice to say when they need some time, and that’s fully respected.”
  • “The people are absolutely amazing. Everyone from the MDs to the analysts to the executive assistants are incredibly nice, funny, and pleasant people. No one is a jerk, and everyone goes out of their way to help others and ensure the success of those around them. Not a cutthroat environment at all, and yet the firm is among the best and most competitive in the market. The people make the long hours worth it. The most challenging aspect of Harris Williams is the number of hours analysts work, but such is banking.”
  • “One of the best comp packages in the industry, period. The expectations and demands of this career are extremely high, and Harris Williams does a phenomenal job taking extra measures to ensure employees are compensated well. The firm also realizes the importance of family and promotes leave policies. Only request would be to consider on-site child care and a gym/wellness center.”
  • “No complaints. Highly competitive compensation package, and I never feel like I’m not being compensated for the lifestyle.”
  • “Generous pay, that’s for sure. But the company doesn’t match your 401(k) contributions until you’ve been here more than two years. Also, medical used to be 100 percent covered—that’s changing soon. On-site gym is through the building. ‘Free’ food is available if you work past 8 p.m.”
  • “Harris Williams pays very competitively, and bonuses are usually great. Outside of normal benefits, there aren’t a ton of perks.”
  • “The firm does an excellent job mentoring each employee and providing them with the necessary tools to excel in the role. I often hear that this is an apprenticeship model, and I think the firm really takes tremendous pride in what that means (i.e., senior leadership on deal- and non-deal-related activities, mentoring, and 360-degree feedback, among others). Continuous improvements on expectations are required to be promoted, providing each employee with a clear roadmap in terms of career advancement. Very traditional in terms of career advancement, which in some cases provides consistency and helps set expectations, but for those that excel early, the promotion cycle may seem a bit on the longer end.”
  • “Deep commitment to each individual and understanding where their development needs are to continuously progress and ensure both professional and personal satisfaction. Tremendous willingness to invest in training and resources proactively as well as in response to specific requests, be it for collective training or for individual leadership development, etc.”
  • “Similar to most banks, this is very much an apprenticeship model. I’ve had a couple senior bankers in particular take me under their wing to help me progress. The team is open to giving me more responsibilities, and I’ve enjoyed the challenge. If I end up biting off more than I can handle, the senior team is willing and able to swoop in to help and provide guidance on how they would have addressed the challenge. I don’t want to bash the formal training aspect, it certainly has been helpful, but the informal on-the-job training and mentorship is top-notch—and, in my opinion, more important for long-term career development”.
  • “Analysts are encouraged to accept their third-year offers with the firm, and many do. Analysts are often invited to stay on as associates. However, most go on to PE. Senior bankers, especially the MDs, are incredibly helpful with PE recruiting and really go above and beyond to help further the career of their analysts by reaching out to PE firms and other companies on their behalf. Seniors also actively go out of their way to act as a mentors to junior bankers.”
  • “To be completely blunt, Harris Williams does lack diversity when it comes to gender, race, and sexual orientation (not firmwide—there’s a lot of diversity among support stuff, just not among bankers). But I don't think it’s for a lack of trying. They put significant effort into diversity recruiting, mentorship, etc., and have a very robust diversity and inclusion program that covers a variety of initiatives (recruitment, mentorship/retention, community involvement, programming, and conversations at the firm, etc.). I’m a woman, and while I would love to see more fellow female bankers at the firm, I’ve never once felt discriminated against or left out or disadvantaged because of my gender. And I’ve been impressed by the extent to which male colleagues have been willing to have candid conversations about issues of gender diversity.”
  • “The effort is there—particularly with respect to women and other diversity initiatives—but the success rate is still very modest. Can’t fault the effort, but the reality is the entire industry has a problem attracting and retaining such candidates.”
  • “Improving diversity and facilitating inclusion at Harris Williams have been huge focus areas since I’ve been with the firm (for more than five years). There’s still a long way to go, but Harris Williams looks very different today than it did five years ago, and the prominence of social justice issues in 2020 has only strengthened those the firm’s efforts in this regard.”
  • “Deep, longstanding philanthropic efforts coupled with a genuine commitment to fostering and expanding upon the firm’s diversity. Current levels of diversity are relatively low in spite of efforts to hire and promote more women and people of color.”
  • “The firm does a phenomenal job communicating with employees and letting us know where things stand and what momentum looks like. I’ve been even more impressed during what has been a challenging year with the resiliency and commitment across the firm to ensure we’re doing everything we can to deliver. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, there was never panic; the message that we continued to hear was stay the course and things will improve, and that has been the case. Harris Williams has a unique culture, and it starts with senior leaders, and the buy-in from the top of the organization is second to none.”
  • “Coming from the depths of Covid, our firm is positioned to succeed as we continue to win high-quality mandates. The firm has adapted well to operating remotely, and we continue to effectively engage clients, which leads to continued business success.”’
  • “I was attracted to Harris Williams because of the strength of its core business. We know where we play and we execute well. Obviously, there are macro trends right now that create some uncertainty, but because of the caliber of firms/PEGs that we work with, we are very well positioned to continue our growth. Harris Williams might not have the brand name for those outside of banking, but if you talk to people who are familiar with the middle market PE space, they know our name and they understand the quality of work.”
  • “Covid has impacted everybody, but I believe that Harris Williams is well-positioned to be a leader throughout the downturn. Harris Williams built a reputation for being resilient during the last downturn in 2008, and we’ve seen trends of leading the market out of the Covid downturn as well.”
  • “The best aspect was the level of meaningful work I was given as an intern. Many friends/classmates who interned at other banks described being given lots of busy work and going to intern-specific activities but not necessarily diving into what the actual job would be like. In comparison, I felt like an actual member of my team, was constantly encouraged to share my opinions and views, and had direct interaction with senior management teams on the deals I was working with. Compared to classmates who interned at other banks, I think we probably had less structured social activities, which would have been a fun addition, but in the grand scheme of things, I appreciated getting a real sense of what the job was like and what I was signing up for full time.”
  • “The Harris Williams team did a great job of providing an opportunity for me to fully appreciate what the job would entail. They quickly got me involved on a live pitch and deal. The 10 weeks flew by, and I knew that if I received a return offer that I wouldn’t have to think twice about accepting. Open-door policy throughout the internship to approach anyone from analyst to MD with questions. In the non-Richmond offices, you'll potentially be the only associate, or maybe one of two summer associates. Given the small teams, it’s more challenging to personally assess if you’re progressing at the normal pace or not.”
  • “It was a great reflection of the actual work. Real, hands-on deal experience even as a summer intern as part of live deal teams. You’re expected to pick up the job quickly, and once you proved oneself, you’re able to work relatively independently as a contributing member of a deal team.”
  • “Exceptional live-deal experience, open-door policy with senior bankers, collaborative and open culture.”

Wellness Efforts

  • “Everyone in the firm does a good job of staying fit and tries to make it collaborative (e.g., Peloton rides once a week, push-up challenges to raise awareness for events, at home group fitness camps).”
  • “The main point I’ve noticed at Harris Williams is that we talk about wellness often and early. Senior bankers aren’t waiting until someone is burnt out to address these issues. Everyone is very aware of the industry we’re in, and while still expect a lot from everyone, there’s an understanding that mental wellness is imperative for quality outputs. Harris Williams has protected weeks/weekends for junior bankers. With the appropriate notice, this allows junior banks to unplug and reset.”
  • “Harris Williams offers some wellness benefits through our affiliation with PNC bank. Part of it is through an EAP. Haven't used it, but it’s there.”
  • “The firm talks well around these things, and they work hard to hire grounded and humbled individuals who are supportive, which goes a long way to building a supportive culture. But it's still investment banking. There are informal exercise groups and competitions, and there are colleagues to talk to in HR or mentors, but there are no formal groups or company-provided access to counseling or mental/emotional health programs.”

 

Response to Anti-Racist Protests and BLM Movement

  • “The firm has taken several actions, including newly formed internal groups to ensure equality and fairness within the workplace. Senior leaders have been a voice, both in the office and outside the office, and have promoted active involvement within our local communities. The importance of each of these movements has been communicated to each and every employee.”
  • “I was impressed. Initiatives are in place, and firm is taking real action on executing them. Taking steps in the right direction isn’t possible without tough conversations, which the firm willingly facilitated. Conversations engaged people at all levels.”
  • “The firm started a new diversity group made up of members in all types of roles across all offices. There are subgroups within the broader group. The goals are to improve diversity recruiting efforts; provide education, tools, and resources to all employees on diversity and inclusion; and provide a space for new ideas. It’s a new effort but there’s a lot of enthusiasm behind it. The firm has lots of diversity as a whole, but within investment banking it is still mostly white, straight, men.”
  • “Did a nice job. Public statements, firm meetings, D&I committee formed. It’s clear that this is important.”

Response to Covid-19

  • “Early and open acknowledgement of the health risks of the pandemic, including respect for individuals’ varying comfort levels in regards to travel and in-person interactions.”
  • “The overall response has been great. No rush to force employees back to the office, and we’ve adapted well to working remotely. More support could be provided to ensure a quality work environment at home (e.g. office stipends, wellness stipends, etc.).”
  • “From an onboarding perspective, Harris Williams was early and extensive in its communications. By the time we started, there was a very clear plan for onboarding. In addition, there have been positive initiatives for WFH. All this being said, PNC still has influence on certain aspects, such as when we can go back to the office.”
  • “Of course, there was a major learning curve for all of us as we adapted to the WFH environment. Like most, we thought this would only last a brief period of time, and here we are several months into this global pandemic. Nonetheless, the firm has been transparent and open in their communication and frequently requests feedback from the wider team.”

Why Work Here


Harris Williams is a global investment bank specializing in M&A advisory services. Founded in 1991, we work together across Industry Groups and geographies to help our clients take their vision to the next level. 

We foster an inclusive and collaborative culture by hiring quality people who are committed, tenacious, smart and principled—dedicated to achieving the right results for our clients, the right way. Both our analysts and associates play an integral role in our M&A advisory activities and regularly engage with senior Harris Williams professionals and executives of the companies we advise. 

Learn more about life with us.

Getting Hired Here


  • “The firm does a great job with running a fast and efficient interview process—callback is day of or next day for people we want to hire. Ideal candidate is hardworking, attentive to detail, someone who takes pride in their work, a lifelong learner, and someone with a positive attitude.”
  • “Multiple rounds of interviews with professionals of varying levels along with a case study and related conversation with a MD. The ideal candidate is strong technically, understands the big picture, and is a cultural fit.”
  • “Ideal candidate has strong communication, analytical, and technical skills; hungry to learn and improve; and willing to work hard while maintaining a positive attitude.”
  • “The ideal candidate has a desire to work in investment banking and understands what they’re getting into. They should be intellectually curious, driven, and interested in client service. Our process typically involves on-campus or phone-screen interviews, followed by a Superday where the candidate interviews with five to 10 Harris Williams professionals and performs a case study assignment.”
  • “The first round interview is mix of behavioral and technical questions, really nothing too crazy—basic valuation and accounting questions. The Superday/final round is a case study, which is much more open-ended and challenging. I think they want to see how you think instead of whether you’ve memorized the 400 Questions from BIWS.”
  • “Fit and culture are very important to Harris Williams and most interview questions cover such topics. Nonetheless, this is a banking job and technical skills are important. All the standard accounting/valuation questions are fair game. There is a case study as well.”
  • “Cash flow, LBO, comps, accounting. Why Harris Williams? Why middle market? Biggest strengths and weaknesses.”
  • “We walk through a couple exercises specific to process that we run at Harris Williams. It involves analyzing and synthesizing data/information in a relatively short period of time and producing an output that’s common during our deal process.”

Perks & Benefits