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by Derek Loosvelt | August 08, 2018


nyc skyline at night

Today, we released our annual Vault Banking 50, a ranking of the best investment banks to work for in North America. This year, Goldman Sachs again ranked No. 1, while Evercore and Centerview Partners held their places at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Morgan Stanley again ranked No. 4 this year, while boutique bank Greenhill jumped a spot to No. 5.  

Here are the top 10 firms in the new Banking 50:

The rankings are derived from our annual Banking Survey. This year, 2,800 banking professional of all levels took our survey. The survey asked professionals to assess their peer firms on a scale of 1 to 10 based on prestige (they were unable to rate their own firm and asked to rate only firms with which they were familiar). They were also asked to rate their own firm in various quality of life categories, including compensation, hours, firm culture, business outlook, training, work/life balance, and overall job satisfaction. A weighted formula was applied to this data to create the Banking 50.

Goldman Is “Still the Best Name to Have on Your Resume”

In addition to topping the Vault Banking 50, Goldman Sachs also continued its dominance of Vault’s Banking Prestige Rankings, again ranking No. 1. This underscored the fact that Goldman is still seen as the most prestigious bank, best dealmaker, and best bank at which to build your career—no matter if you want to stay in banking or eventually move to another industry. Indeed, professionals at peer firms continue to rate Goldman well above its competitors in prestige, while those inside the firm, though not without their complaints, nearly unanimously rave about their highly talented and helpful colleagues, the challenging and interesting assignments they get to work on, and the nearly unmatched development and growth opportunities.

Here’s one Goldman Sachs banker speaking with us about the firm’s career development opportunities: “Goldman is an incredible place to work, with the most talented people working together in an intense, entrepreneurial work environment. The firm’s laser focus on client service, risk management, and best commercial outcomes makes for an exciting and rewarding career. If you’re a strong performer, there will be mentors available for you to guide you in your development. Senior MDs and partners tend to be the best in their field across the industry, so the apprenticeship is quite valuable. Internal transfer opportunities are also readily available at junior levels.”

Other Goldman insiders noted that the best things about their jobs include “working with hardworking, supportive colleagues in a culture of excellence”; “the challenging, interesting work”; “the many growth and advancement opportunities”; and, of course, “the prestige—the brand name and reputation.”

Evercore Inches Closer to Goldman

Evercore held steady at No. 2 in the Vault Banking 50, while narrowing the gap between No. 1 and No. 2. This year, Evercore’s raw score in the Banking 50 was 8.372 vs. Goldman’s 8.431. That means Evercore lessened the gap between the top two firms by 17 percent (last year, Evercore scored 8.311 vs. Goldman’s 8.380). Evercore was able to gain ground thanks to solid ratings in Compensation, Business Outlook, Formal Training, and Overall Satisfaction. It also scored well in Prestige, jumping one spot in that ranking to No. 4. 

Here’s one Evercore insider speaking about the development and training opportunities at the firm: “We have tremendous deal flow, and this gives young people a great experience. Doing deals is the only way to learn M&A, and thus they get an exceptional education at Evercore. We believe in the apprenticeship model, and we care a lot about our human capital, so we spend a lot of time and effort on mentoring and teaching people.” 

Banking Boutiques Hold Strong 

Several boutique banks—including Centerview, Greenhill, Perella Weinberg, and Moelis—have a lot to be proud of. Centerview stayed strong at No. 3 in the Banking 50, while holding at No. 6 in Prestige. The firm, which has been on a tear in recent years, gaining market share in the M&A deal market, also ranked No. 1 in Compensation and Firm Leadership, No. 2 in Promotion Policies, and No. 3 in five categories, including Culture, Business Outlook, and Overall Satisfaction

Here’s one Centerview insider speaking about life at the firm: “Centerview has a fun, collaborative, supportive culture. We take pride in doing excellent work, but at the same time are very respectful of people’s personal lives. We want our bankers to have full, rich professional lives as well as happy personal lives. Partners are respectful of your time, and junior bankers are treated with respect. The firm is incredibly collegial. We all want each other to succeed, and we support and celebrate each other’s successes.” 

Meanwhile, Greenhill rose one place to No. 5 in the Banking 50 while dominating the Quality of Life Rankings, coming in at No. 1 in 10 categories, including Culture, Hours, Promotion Policies, Overall Satisfaction, and Work/Life Balance

Here’s a Greenhill insider speaking about why the bank is such a great firm to work for: “There’s a strong culture here focused around teamwork and collegiality. Senior management is very focused on maintaining that. Also, there’s a high quality of life with a focus on working smarter and flexibility to work remotely. No face time at all. Hours tend to be unpredictable, but that goes with the industry. If you let people know your external commitments early, they can usually be accommodated.” 

Perella Weinberg Partners, another strong up-and-coming boutique, jumped one spot this year in the Banking 50 to No. 7, while also ranking No. 1 in both training categories: Formal Training and Informal Training. The firm also ranked No. 1 in the important Benefits category. Meanwhile, Moelis, an impressive No. 6 in the Banking 50 this year, ranked No. 1 in Business Outlook and No. 2 in Internal Mobility. Overall, it ranked among the top five banks in 11 workplace categories. 

This year’s rankings again showed that although Goldman is in a class by itself when it comes to prestige, boutiques like Evercore and Centerview continue to close the gap between the big firms and boutiques when it comes to being a top banking employer. Typically, the boutiques offer healthier work environments, with more forgiving cultures and much better hours. That said, it’ll be very interesting to see what happens next year with Goldman under new CEO David Solomon, a.k.a. D.J. D-Sol. It's very possible that Goldman’s culture will shift somewhat under Solomon, for the better.

Bank of America Leads the Way in Diversity 

Underscoring its commitment to inclusion and diversity, Bank of America nearly swept the Diversity Rankings. The firm ranked No. 1 in Overall Diversity, Female Diversity, and LGBT Diversity, and ranked No. 2 in Minority Diversity. Minority-owned bank Loop Capital took the top spot in Minority Diversity.

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