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Harris Williams
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Harris Williams Summer Associate & Analyst Program


Vault’s Verdict

Harris Williams is ideally looking for intellectually curious, confident, driven, diligent, organized, personable, hardworking candidates with strong technical skills. The firm’s internship program gets rave reviews. Harris Williams’ two-week Boot Camp program offers rising college seniors hands-on simulated deal experience, giving interns a clear picture of the kind of work full-time analysts perform throughout the deal process. Harris Williams also offers traditional summer analyst and associate internships during which interns get live-deal experiences.  

For its full-time junior bankers, Harris Williams offers valuable formal and informal training and mentoring programs, along with an “analyst-to-associate” program in which analysts are promoted to associate after two years. In addition, Harris Williams provides support for analysts who choose to look for positions in private equity after their time with the firm.

Quality of life is generally good for juniors at the firm. Junior bankers are able to set their own schedules on the weekends, and the firm places an emphasis on efficiency (no face time) and doesn't force unnecessary work on analysts. Junior bankers’ time is respected, and analysts and associates are able to find time during the day to exercise and run errands. However, given the strong deal flow, hours can be long, and junior bankers are expected to be available to work seven days a week, if necessary.

Compensation is at top of the Street average, as Harris Williams offers very generous salaries and bonuses (in 2021, special cash bonuses were given to all junior bankers on top of normal bonuses in recognition for their extraordinary level of work and the firm’s profitability). However, benefits could be better. The firm’s 401(k) program vests after three years, which is a disadvantage for those who leave after two years as an analyst, and the firm doesn’t provide much in the way of formal wellness initiatives. Even so, Harris Williams tries hard to promote a positive environment for its staff, and tries not to overwork juniors.

Diversity hiring has been improving in recent years at the firm, but Harris Williams is still working to improve D&I. Despite the firm’s significant investment in partnerships and focus on diversity hiring initiatives and events, there still lacks significant representation of people of color and women within the firm’s ranks. As for Harris Williams’ business outlook, it is bright, despite the down market. The firm is coming off a record year in 2021, the rate of repeat clients is high, and employee morale is strong.

Hiring Process

“The recruiting process consisted of networking calls, followed by an in-person networking event, then a first-round technical/behavioral interview via a phone call, then a Super Day, which is in-person and consists of a strategic case study followed by a debrief with a senior banker. Super Day also includes a technical/behavioral interview and a coffee/lunch with first-year analysts. Ideal candidate is intellectually curious, confident, driven, tenacious, and willing to work long hours. Firm is flexible in hiring people with non-banking backgrounds.”

“Harris Williams looks for candidates with strong technical skills, but more importantly, Harris Williams looks for those who are diligent, organized, sociable, and intellectual.”

“Ideal candidate is well-rounded, personable, driven, intellectually curious, down-to-earth, and interested in M&A and getting exposure to private equity clients.”

“I think the biggest piece is a cultural fit. It seems like we are willing to take a smart candidate who may have a slightly lower GPA but who is a great cultural fit for the firm. At the end of the day, HW wants people to go to work enjoying those they work with.”

Interview Questions

“Standard behavioral and technical questions. Name times where you have worked with difficult individual and how you thrived through the situation.”

“A lot of behavioral and fit type questions, some technical questions, and an hour-long M&A case interview, which is then reviewed with two senior bankers.”

“What would make a company a good candidate for M&A? When would a company be a better fit to sell to a financial buyer vs. a strategic buyer? Knowledge of valuation methodologies. General accounting questions, knowledge of the three financial statements, why investment banking, etc.”

“Boot Camp interviewing is largely behavioral (focused on fit, interest in banking and Harris Williams) with a few straightforward technical questions.”

Intern Experience

“The Boot Camp experience was awesome. I really enjoyed spending two weeks in Richmond and getting to meet the people who ran the firm at Harris Williams. It was the people I met and the relationships I made that made me want to come back to the firm.”

“Internship was the two-week Boot Camp program that gave me a decent understanding of the deal process. I enjoyed it a lot, as it allowed me to do another internship during the summer, and I felt very well prepared for a role in IB.”

“Incredible ‘drop what you are doing to help others’ culture. Our Boot Camp is very hands-on and simulated deal experience from past deals. Very informative program with a high likelihood of an offer if you work super hard.”

“Provides a great picture of the kind of work you're expected to do as an analyst throughout the M&A process, but limited meaningful interaction with bankers outside of Boot Camp instructors, mentors, and advisors. Few instances to naturally observe the culture and daily rhythms of the firm.”

Career Development

“Harris Williams has an analyst-to-associate program, where you’re eligible to receive a direct promotion to associate after two years as an analyst. Additionally, for those who are interested in the private equity space, Harris Williams has great support in helping analysts land roles at reputable shops. There is no better place to start your career in terms of career development opportunities.”

“Extremely robust formal and informal training and mentor program. Highly entrepreneurial culture. Bankers are encouraged and supported to identify new sub-vertical focus areas to generate new business. Clear internal career progression opportunities. Large majority of MDs are promoted from within.”

“Awesome opportunities. There are potential opportunities to change offices after your analyst cycle and join a different location as an associate. If you go to PE and do not enjoy the experience, HW will let you return to the firm as an associate or VP. For PE recruiting, there is not a firm more supportive than HW. There is also fantastic internal promotion opportunities for analyst as you can work your way up to MD eventually.”

“The best part of HW's career development is access to senior bankers and informal learning opportunities. The firm is also very communicative about the exit opportunities for analysts, whether it’s exiting to PE or staying on as an associate. The firm provides a wealth of resources for analysts to utilize in making their decision. Senior bankers are more than happy to go to bat and help analysts out during the PE recruiting process.”

Quality of Life

“Harris Williams places a strong emphasis on efficiency and doesn't force unnecessary work on analysts simply for the sake of working. Your time is respected, and if you get all your work done, the firm has no problem with analysts finding time to workout, go to an appointment, etc. On the other hand, hours can get really long, and analysts are expected to be available to work seven days a week if necessary. We do not have protected Saturdays. We get one protected weekend a quarter and one protected week a year.”

“Quality of life is generally good. Junior staff can set their own schedules on the weekends, and during the week they typically go home by 7 p.m. and then work from home for the night. I almost never get emails from senior folks on the weekends. The level of M&A activity is unevenly distributed, and if you're not heavily staffed, then nobody will hold it against you for going offline at 5 p.m. On the flip side, 2021 had a record amount of volume that pushed the firm to its limits in terms of staffing, and there is a limited amount of vacation—one protected week per year.”

“Best aspects are how supportive and understanding they are when you need a break or have been working extremely hard. They recognize your work as an analyst, and make you feel valued and appreciated. There are no truly bad aspects of the quality of life, but the hours can be extensive—working until 3 a.m. for a week straight and things like that. But you’re not truly working that whole time. You need to be on call, though.”

“The firm makes every effort to enhance culture across the bank. Each group has a unique culture and engages in activities/team-building events often (happy hours, fishing trips, etc.). Deal teams are understanding that you have a life outside of work and encourage taking time to exercise and run errands as long as you get your work done. In the evenings, it's okay for junior bankers to go home and finish the nights remotely. However, the firm has started catering dinners for analysts and associates once a week to encourage camaraderie and building relationships across groups. I'd argue that we have the best culture out of all the banks.”

Salary and Benefits

“Harris Williams offers very competitive pay, in terms of base pay and bonus. I am very satisfied with my compensation and feel that sentiment is echoed across the firm. Our 401(k) program vests after three years, which is a disadvantage for those who leave after two years as an analyst.”

“The firm had its best performance in history. Special cash bonuses were given to all junior bankers on top of normal bonuses. This was in recognition for the extraordinary level of work and profitability. I was pleasantly surprised they would honor that work with higher compensation. Associates are paid all-cash bonuses up front (no deferral). For context, my former firm defers 20 percent of the bonus payment, pretty much guaranteeing that an associate never receives full compensation when they leave.”

“$35 meal stipend available if we work past 8 p.m. or if we work for more than four hours on a Saturday or Sunday. Free parking garage is great, given we are based in a commuter city. I do wish we had more protected vacation time, though. We have one protected weekend a quarter, and one protected week a year. I'm thankful for these policies, but I have heard other junior bankers getting one protected weekend a month in certain instances.”

“Compensation is top of the Street. I don't know any firm, outside of a few boutiques, that pay anywhere close to our comp. 

Wellness Efforts

“The firm doesn't invest heavily in the this, but I don't think most people find it valuable. There is time to exercise regardless.”

“HW is focused on ensuring they do not burn their people out, but no formal programs like counseling exist.”

“I'm unaware of any formal initiatives, but the firm takes the wellness of its employees very seriously on a case-by-case basis and tries very hard to promote a positive environment for everyone. Good news is we don't get worked to death or operate in a hostile work environment like other firms, so demand for such initiatives is probably very low.”

“There is an on-site gym, but I don’t know about any the other wellness initiatives.”

Diversity ESG Initiatives

“The firm has really invested over the past several years in promoting diversity in the workforce. We have a significantly more diverse workforce today than when I joined (almost 10 years ago) and will continue to make strides here.”

“I think this is a huge area of improvement for the bank. There lacks representation of people of color and women in the company. There is active programming set up to support this for recruiting and retention, which is very appreciated. I don't know if this is the case for our LGBTQ+ population.”

“The firm is making a concerted effort to increase representation of diverse employees across the firm. However, I am one of very few females in my analyst class. It was a little discouraging walking in on the first day and feeling underrepresented, but I have never felt unwelcome at Harris Williams. I am treated with respect every day by my male colleagues.”

“We are behind the curve on D&I, largely due to our geographic position (where we’re located), but I think we’re making meaningful strides. As for ESG, I believe we are very active in charitable giving and community involvement. I work in the energy and power group, so ESG is particularly top of mind for us at the moment. We try to be selective about the clients we choose to work with and are always considering this in what we do. We have also largely exited the oil and gas business, and I personally am working with some senior bankers to build out our energy transition and renewables business for the group.”

Business Outlook

“While the market will be challenging in the next couple of months, this is an opportunity for us to differentiate ourselves and take share. We don't have the turnover our Wall Street peers have (we are less likely to reduce our workforce) and can really highlight the strength of our culture/platform to our clients during distressed economic environments. Our revenue will likely decline during this period, but we can emerge in a better market position.”

“Globally, the M&A market has slowed, so business outlook isn't as strong as it was a year ago. However, Harris Williams continues to thrive in difficult market conditions, and I feel confident that I will have a robust two years as an analyst here.”

“The middle market is generally more insulated from public markets. Recent economic weakness has created headwinds, but there is still a heavy appetite for deals. I work within the food and beverage team, and the pipeline is incredibly robust going into next year. The number of new junior banker hires is extraordinary. The firm has a lot of momentum. Our feedback from clients is very strong, and our rate of repeat clients is pretty remarkable. However, we are still smaller (450+ bankers) compared to our larger peers. From a deal volume and reputation standpoint, we still have to fight uphill for recognition.”

“The firm has built a stellar reputation in the industry and has strong relationships/backlog to provide encouraging feeling around business outlook for the next year. However, broader macro concerns may reduce M&A activity and the firm does not offer other products like other investment banks do to compensate for lower M&A activity.”

“Deal flow has slowed down recently, but 2021 was a record year in fees and deal flow for us, as we continue to play up in the market. Employee morale is very high, and compensation has been raised. We are doing great.”

Harris Williams

1001 Haxall Point
9th floor
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: 804-648-0072

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Private
Executive Managing Director: Edward “Ned” Valentine
2023 Employees (All Locations): 500

Major Office Locations

National (US)
Frankfurt, DE
London, GB

Major Departments & Practices

Aerospace, Defense & Government
Business Services
Energy, Power & Infrastructure
Healthcare & Life Sciences
Technology, Media & Telecom
Transportation & Logistics