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Harris Williams
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Vault’s Verdict

Harris Williams is ideally looking for smart, down-to-earth, highly responsible candidates with strong technical and communication skills (they need to show well in front of a client). The firm runs a highly regarded internship program, offering students solid training, deal experience, and access to mentors across the senior team. Meanwhile, Harris Williams’ full-time junior bankers have access to fantastic formal and informal training, helpful mentoring, and every opportunity to advance within the firm.

The firm is said to have great, collaborative culture, and junior bankers are encouraged to have lives outside of work. Still, hours can be long and unpredictable, and work/life balance can be hard to achieve here. On the plus side, WFH setups allow professionals to work from home in the evenings and at night, and the salaries are at the very top of the market. Indeed, Harris Williams pays extremely well, especially given that the firm is headquartered in Richmond, which has a lower cost of living than cities where many other banks are headquartered. Benefits, though, receive lower ratings from insiders, with many saying that vacation is limited for junior bankers and that the 401(k) matching policy could be better (it only vests after three years, so many analysts don’t receive a match).

Although there is still room for improvement when it comes to DE&I, Harris Williams has significantly improved its diversity recruiting efforts in recent years. It employs people of all backgrounds, is very strong when it comes to veteran hiring and retention, and is trying to recruit more women and people of color.

As for the firm’s overall business outlook, it is very bright. Harris Williams’ deal flow is strong, the firm is well positioned to succeed in any economic climate, it has been putting up record revenues and earnings recently, employee morale is high, and employees have a lot of confidence in leadership.

EMPLOYEE REVIEWS

Hiring Process

“Significant increase in applications this year, to the point where HW had to close application portal early. The firm is seeking someone who can show well in front of a client, is a great culture fit, and has strong technical skills to build on as an analyst. First round is a 30-minute phone screen, with mostly behavioral and some technical questions. Superday consists of 45 minutes along with a company teaser, followed by a 45-minute debrief with a senior banker on the teaser (case study/dialogue format), then a 45-minute technical interview. Superday also includes lunch with two analysts to assess professionalism/culture fit.”

“You hear back fairly soon after interviewing and are reached out to by the head analyst recruiter. The firm is seeking an individual who has a desire to learn, has demonstrated strong technical proficiency, and is an individual who all get along with.”

“The ideal candidate is smart, down-to-earth, and highly responsible. Our firm is organized and nimble when interviewing and putting forth an offer. The greatest challenge is recruiting talent to smaller cities (Richmond, Minneapolis, etc.).”

“Looking for capable leaders who are a strong cultural fit and can grow into managing directors over the course of their career.”

Interview Questions

“Basic valuation and financial statement questions.”

“Walk me through an LBO at a high level. What type of buyer makes sense for XYZ company?”

“Walk me through the three main valuation methods. What is the best metric for valuation? Assume a capex purchase half cash/half debt, how does this affect the three statements? Plus a lot of behavioral questions. And there’s a strategic thinking case study that’s part of the Superday.”

“Strategic case study discussion. Technical questions and financial modeling. Cultural/professional fit. Strategic thinking and analysis.”

Intern Experience

“Great internship experience. They provide a combination of training and a lot of deal experience. Real responsibility with several mentors across the organization to help you learn and get to know the company.”

“Internship was very fast-paced. I learned a lot since it was the two-week Boot Camp program. I loved being able to do two internships during my junior summer, as it allowed me to try IB in two different practice areas and ultimately have more options for my full-time decision.”

“The internship gave you great live deal experience. No parts of the job were hidden from the interns. Lots of face time with senior bankers and clients as well.”

“Internship was hands-on, lots of direct deal experience, and generally good mentorship from the senior team. Challenges were the lack of diversity. As a member of the BIPOC community, it was sometimes uncomfortable being in an environment where I was the only POC.”

Career Development

“Harris Williams puts a strong emphasis on providing opportunities to their employees. They link bankers up with mentors at multiple levels throughout the organization and constantly strive to get good feedback from their employees to better opportunities. Harris Williams has very strong initial training for new employees, and implements continued improvement training to keep employees up to speed on the latest regulations, procedures, and new and improved ways of doing business.”

“The firm is growing at a healthy clip. More than 80 percent of MDs were promoted from within the firm. The head of our group clearly communicates expectations for advancement and is actively working to broaden the practice and create lanes for new MDs. Promotions can take a bit longer than competitive banks, but there is much less turnover here driving a need for filling spots.”

“Harris Williams' internal mentoring and informal training are fantastic. I have learned a ton from my seniors, who were all eager to get me up the learning curves as quickly as possible. Additionally, every opportunity for career advancement within the firm were presented to me from the very start.”

“HW does not limit the number of bankers at any given level of seniority in any group; there is always room for another VP, director, MD, etc. The only people who aren’t promoted are those who genuinely are not qualified for the next role. There could be more clarity around opportunities for early promotions/what the true rubric for promotion is once you spent the requisite time at your current level.”

Quality of Life

“Harris Williams does put a lot of emphasis on employee happiness and a good work culture. They have lots of events, and they strive to emplace policies that help facilitate work/life balance. An example is allowing employees to leave the office around dinner time to continue working from home. Hours are long as a result of the nature of the work (not as a result of Harris Williams trying to extend those hours unnecessarily). Vacation time is strongly respected, though needs to be planned out so that other deal team members aren’t shouldering an unfair level of the load during high operational tempo periods of time.”

“The firm has a great culture, and we are encouraged to have lives outside of our jobs. We are not required to be in the office late at night; instead, HW supplies WFH setups to use once you go home to your family. There could be better communication about taking ‘unprotected time’ for travel. It is allowed and even encouraged, but not done so very vocally to where some analysts and associates believe you're only allowed to travel for ‘protected time’—one weekend per quarter and one week per year.”

“The culture at HW is very group-dependent. The overall culture is VERY collaborative in nature. Some groups have excellent sub-cultures, whereas other groups not so much. On average, analysts and associates work a lot, and work/life balance is very hard to achieve here. Senior members in my group are appreciative of hard work, but there is little done to actually increase work/life balance. I am up working until at least midnight most nights. One other area for improvement that would go a long way is having more vacation time. Analysts and associates receive only one week of protected vacation each year. And we get four protected weekends each year as well.”

“Senior bankers understand that junior bankers are humans and have lives outside of the office. I’ve had times where I’ve had personal matters come up and VPs/associates were willing to cover for me while I was offline. Easy to travel as an analyst on the weekends, as long as you communicate with your deal team. HW hosts a lot of fun events for junior bankers (quarterly analyst events, industry group specific send-off events for departing analysts, etc.) as well as fun events for the entirety of the firm (firm off-site event every year, holiday party, etc.). In-office five days a week, but have optionality to finish the evenings remote from home.”

Salary and Benefits

“The salary is right at the top of the competitive set in the market, despite not being a BB or in NYC, which means your dollar goes further in Richmond or any of the non-SF, London, or NYC offices. Not a lot of clarity into what the bonuses will look like a down year, though.”

“Firm tends to be on the top end of compensation for the industry, which is appreciated. 401(k) match is lower than what I’ve seen at similarly sized institutions.”

“Harris Williams pays extremely well, especially given the firm is headquartered in Richmond, which has a lower cost of living than the cities in which most other banks reside. After-hours meal reimbursement is a huge perk, with $35 for dinner going a long way in Richmond. Vacation is limited for junior bankers, only five non-weekend days per year. If you want a weekend off, you can only block one weekend per quarter, meaning just eight Saturdays and Sundays ‘off’ the entire year.”

“Total compensation is very high, and I do enjoy the limited flexibility to work from home when needed, but vacation time is super limited, the in-office gym is bare and not very nice, and the 401(k) match only vests after three years, so many analysts don’t get any match.”

Wellness Efforts

“The firm encourages utilizing mental health and nutritional programs available through health insurance. General culture of making sure everyone is doing well and not burning out to the extent possible in an industry that demands a lot from people.”

“The firm prioritizes everyone’s wellness, and there is an open dialogue about how people are doing with work. The firm tracks people’s work, and makes sure that their work/life balance and wellness are in good shape.”

“Wellness rooms in the office, emphasize working out when possible, gym in the office, and partnerships for delivery services.”

“I think the firm tries to do everything they can, but the reality is it’s a tough job that requires sacrifices.”

Diversity ESG Initiatives

“Significant minority and veteran employee populations. Good gender and LGBTQ+ representation, given the industry’s skew as a whole. Overall, I’m very happy with the makeup of our teams.”

“HW has improved significantly in its diversity recruiting efforts, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.. There is improvement with hiring POCs at the junior level, but again, I would like to see that improve at the senior level, especially POC women.”

“The firm shines with respect to hiring veterans, and I respect that a lot. However, other diversity is extremely hard to find. Most analysts are white men, and as a non-white male, I feel many times as if I don’t fit in with the other analysts due to different upbringing. The firm would benefit from having more targeted diversity recruitment efforts, especially because turnover is significantly higher for diverse employees at this firm compared to their white counterparts.”

“There are people of all backgrounds here. It is not the most diverse place I have ever been in, but it is obvious they are trying to recruit more women, POC, etc.”

Business Outlook

“While revenue is down across the market, I believe HW is positioned to withstand macro challenges, take share through superior service to our clients, and pay our junior, mid-level, and experienced bankers top-of-market bonuses. There is no investment bank I would rather work for in this market or any other.”

“The firm continues to be a strong player competitively, with record-breaking volume and staffing. Morale is high, and confidence in leadership and competitive outlook is strong, with an eye towards continued growth.”

“Our practice is as busy as it has ever been. The firm has had record year after record year. This year will be softer (which seems consistent with competitors) but still solid in terms of activity. No layoffs, which is more than many of our competitors can say.”

“Deal flow has remained strong, with numerous deals coming off hold, as well as new deals coming to market in the coming months. Strong firm leadership—best-in-class leaders who know how to lead during any market cycle.”

Harris Williams

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

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Private
Co-Chief Executive Officers: Bob Baltimore and John Neuner

Major Office Locations

National (US)
Frankfurt, DE
London, UK

Major Departments & Practices

Aerospace, Defense & Government
Business Services
Consumer
Energy, Power & Infrastructure
Healthcare & Life Sciences
Industrials
Technology
Transportation & Logistics
Private Capital Advisory