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Vault’s Verdict

TD Cowen is ideally looking for hardworking, ambitious, intellectually curious candidates who are eager to learn, have strong technical skills, and have excellent academic track records. For students, the firm runs a very valuable internship program. Interns get hands-on experience, a high level of responsibility, solid training, and access to senior management. Meanwhile, the firm’s junior bankers have access to extensive career development opportunities. Deal teams are lean, meaning juniors get a lot of responsibility. Senior bankers have an open-door policy, meaning informal training is excellent. The firm’s culture is collaborative, and TD Cowen’s mentorship program is strong. In addition, the firm recently introduced a two-year analyst program, which promotes analysts to associates after only two years.

Although hours can be long when you’re working on a live deal, and work/life balance can be group-specific, in general TD Cowen promotes maintaining a healthy work/life balance. Vacation is encouraged to take (and you can unplug when you’re on vacation). The firm has a generous hybrid work schedule. There is a protected Saturday policy in place. And people respect that you have a life outside if work. As for compensation, it is very competitive (in line with the Street average), and benefits are plentiful—insiders especially appreciate the hybrid work policy, casual dress policy, and meal reimbursements.

TD Cowen focuses on promoting diversity and has several groups that support and promote the hiring, promoting, mentoring, and retaining of women, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, individuals with disabilities, and military veterans. While some groups are rather diverse, others are less diverse. Also, the junior ranks are more diverse than the senior ranks. As for the firm’s business outlook, insiders are bullish on the firm’s future. Most say TD Bank’s acquisition of Cowen will open up a lot of new possibilities for TD Cowen, making it an exciting place to work for the next several years.

EMPLOYEE REVIEWS

Hiring Process

“Initial review of resume, followed by three screening calls/interviews focused on motivation and cultural fit, interest and potential, and technical skills. Last step is a Superday full of in-person interviews with senior bankers.”

“The ideal candidate is (a) ambitious, (b) loves to learn, (c) thrives in a dynamic environment where there are new challenges to try and answer every day, (d) can put in ‘the grind’ of what it takes to be successful, and (e) has a superior academic track record.”

“The formal recruiting process takes about three to four weeks from resume review to first-round and second-round interviews to Superday. Usually, people hear back from the Superday the next day or next couple of days. The ideal intern candidate is someone who has a strong GPA and resume (tenure with extracurriculars, shows interest in things outside of the classroom, has leadership positions, etc.) and also someone who shows an eager appetite to learn and adapt to change quickly. It helps to prepare for technical questions and reasons why they like the team and firm, to at least show that they did their homework.”

“Ideal candidate is extremely curious and tenacious, can navigate social systems well, is a cultural fit, and has technical skills. But primarily we’re looking for someone who is willing to work very hard and fit in well with the team.”

Interview Questions

“What is EBITDA and why is it important? What is the difference between levered and unlevered free cash flow? What are typical adjustments made to EBITDA during a sell-side process? Why are these adjustments important? What is NWC and what are typical line-items included/excluded from consideration?”

“Brainteasers (how many tennis balls can fill a Boeing 737?) and financial statement and accounting questions (walk me through the first year, second year, and final year financial statements for the purchase of an asset using debt).”

“What is something not on your resume that differentiates you and makes you the best fit for the job? Tell me about a time when your work was criticized. How did you respond? What do you think a typical investment banking analyst does on a day-to-day basis?”

“Standard modeling case studies for banking and research, plus other technical questions and behavioral questions. But mainly just one-on-one chemistry.”

Intern Experience

“Great learning experience, phenomenal team members who guided and trained me through the whole process. The most challenging part was expected—long hours.”

“Very high levels of interaction with senior management. Hands-on work with pitch materials. High level of responsibility given.”

“TD Cowen places you in groups prior to the start of your internship based on your preferences and group placement calls. I think being in a group put me in a better position than some of my friends in generalist programs because I felt like I was contributing to the success of the group, rather than just focusing on my own individual work. TD Cowen also loves scheduling social events within groups and the broader bank, so it was easy to become closer on a social level with people I worked with. One negative aspect, which is probably similar for a lot of internships, is that the training for the first week is not very relevant to what you end up doing day to day during your internship, Nonetheless, it was useful to get me in a ‘finance’ mindset.”

“Great opportunity to network and learn about the business as a whole. The community was very welcoming, and everyone was helpful towards helping us grow. The hardest part was the uncertainty of how many of us were going to get hired full time.”

Career Development

“Since TD Cowen is a middle-market bank, the deal teams are very lean (usually two and at most three junior bankers on a deal at any given time). These lean deal teams allow me to have more responsibility, and thus work on specific parts of projects that a typical first-year analyst wouldn’t touch. This has allowed me to learn more than my counterparts at other banks, while not feeling like I’m drowning in work. Also, TD Cowen recently introduced a two-year analyst program, where the standard timeline for promotion to an associate is only two years.”

“TD Cowen has a collaborative work environment, with flat culture. Senior bankers care about juniors (at least within my team), and there is plenty of mentorship when it comes to technical and industry knowledge. TD Cowen does not do mid-year promotions. A more flexible promotion cycle and a better formal training program that reflects on-the-job tasks would be beneficial.”

“Open-door policy with senior bankers, leaner deal teams provide juniors with more responsibility, informal training is crucial in learning. However, development varies across different groups, and there’s little opportunity to transition internally.”

“Best aspects include: ample opportunity to interface directly with senior management of our clients, you get a lot of early responsibility, you’re able to work on variety of transaction types (M&A, capital markets), and the company has adopted a mentorship program with senior bankers that has been beneficial. On the downside: cyclical deal flow and minimal networking opportunities.”

Quality of Life

“TD Cowen is one of the best banks for quality of life—they’re respectful of protected Saturdays, they encourage us to take all our vacation time, we’re relatively undisturbed while on vacation, and the hybrid work schedule is a plus. Also, the culture is great from top to bottom, which helps junior bankers feel more comfortable and secure. On the other hand, the acquisition by TD, combined with recent RIFs and reorganization, has led to uncertainty and discomfort amongst the employee base.”

“You generally know when the busiest times of year are, which helps in planning time off. But unexpected news events late in the day can sometimes require you to reschedule after-work plans.”

“Work/life balance is mostly group specific, but I feel that TD Cowen has a really strong work/life balance in general. When people take vacation, including analysts, people are extremely respective of time off and will not contact that person unless it is very important and they are needed (which makes time off actually be time off). Additionally, my weekends have been mostly free of work, with a little bit of Friday or Sunday night work needed in specific scenarios. Overall, people at TD Cowen really care about your development as a person and time away from work, which contributes to a very strong work culture.”

“The work/life balance has been great, as deal flow has been slower than normal. When there is a lot to do, our team certainly works 90 to 100+ hours in a week, but we understand that is what we signed up for in investment banking. Since TDS/TD Cowen laid off 20 percent of the seniors over the summer, it changed the culture for TD Cowen. More people have left since then for culture reasons and for normal career path reasons, which has added to the changing office and culture dynamics. I really enjoy working with some of the folks we have left and am excited to work more with the TDS team.”

Salary and Benefits

“Competitive compensation in line with the Street average. And the two best benefits are the meal reimbursement ($35 a night past 7 p.m.) and the remote Mondays and Fridays policy (the firm is generally very supportive of the hybrid model).”

“I feel highly compensated, especially when taking into account the actual number of hours I work—I probably earn 90 percent of what some of my colleagues at sweatier shops earn but work 70 percent of the hours. My firm offers me 20 vacation days a year, which feels like plenty, and I don't have an issue with using most or all of them. Worst part of the perks might be medical coverage, which could be a bit better, and gym reimbursements, which is only $50 a month (not a lot in NYC).”

“Solid base salary, but bonus can be a little unpredictable. Overall, TD Cowen has amazing benefits. Some include free medical/dental/vision insurance, gym reimbursement, 401(k) match, casual Thursdays (a lot of people wear polos other days too), and bagels for the entire office every Thursday. The only thing I wish was a little better is the 401(k) match, though it is in line with what other investment banks offer, based on conversations with friends.”

“Total compensation is above-market, perks are similarly competitive, and
I like how much freedom I have to complete my work. At the associate level, hours can be heavy but at least are flexible, given the firm’s remote/hybrid work options. The office also has a relatively casual dress policy, which I enjoy. And I am grateful of our meal reimbursements.”

Wellness Efforts

“Through TD Cowen’s benefits package, employees get access to 14 free mental health therapy sessions a year, gym reimbursement, standard vacation time, and sick and mental health days, among other thing. This shows that TD Cowen really cares about their employees and their well-being.”

“My biggest positive for wellness efforts are the protected Friday nights and Saturdays. That is the one wellness effort I heavily rely on, and it usually is enforced except during high-priority live-deal work.”

“Mental health days, mental health coaching, and an initiative surrounding reimbursement for walking a certain distance per month, as well as $50 reimbursement per month for gym memberships.”

“Good wellness benefits including a gym subsidy, free counseling and telehealth services, and health-focused social events (exercise classes, meditation, etc.).”

Diversity and ESG Initiatives

“Solid diversity in the team that I work in, but among the broader firm, diversity is somewhat lacking.”

“I don't know how diverse the wider firm is, but in my group we are multicultural and mostly women.”

“TD Cowen places a lot of effort into promoting diversity, with an extensive number of programs that support and promote hiring, promotion, mentoring, and retention of women, PoC, LGBTQ+ individuals, individuals with disabilities, and military veterans. Several programs, such as ‘OUTperformers’ and various other minority action counsels and groups at TD Cowen have been extremely effective in ensuring that all minority groups are included.”

“I think the diversity programs at the entry level are definitely good, but as bankers become more senior, there is less diversity (which I think is the case across Wall Street for the most part).”

Business Outlook

“Acquisition by TD opens up a lot of new possibilities for business. It could be a really exciting place to work over the next several years.”

“With the merger with TD Securities, TD Cowen will have access to all the resources that come with a larger bank. TD Bank is known to have a good work culture and seems like it would be a perfect fit for the incoming employees from Cowen. Secondly, senior bankers will be able to access more clients given that the bank can now lend money to help fund a deal, which is a reason why, in the past, sometimes we would lose engagements.”

“Although the TD acquisition stifled Cowen’s higher-growth industry coverage verticals, a balance sheet and overall expansion of scale are both great operational synergies that bring tangible benefits to our business. I think the business outlook from a performance standpoint is strong, and important facets like firm culture have not been affected much. Cross collaboration between industry coverage groups is a challenge, especially within the tech team where the different groups are technically under one umbrella now.

“Despite the recent merger, I still have full faith in my job security, future growth opportunities, and the continuity of the firm’s culture. This is largely due to communicative efforts made by senior leadership.”

TD Cowen

599 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10002
Phone: (646) 562-1000

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Public
Stock Symbol: COWN
Stock Exchange: NYSE
President and CEO, TD Securities and Group Head, Wholesale Banking, TD Bank Group: Riaz Ahmed
President, TD Cowen and Vice Chair, TD Securities: Jeffrey Solomon
2024 Employees (All Locations): 1,500

Major Office Locations

New York, NY
San Francisco, CA
Boston, MA
Dallas, TX
Detroit, MI
Global