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Houlihan Lokey
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Vault’s Verdict

Houlihan Lokey is ideally looking for hardworking and intelligent candidates who can think on their feet. The firm’s interns receive a lot of live deal experience, good training, and access to senior bankers. Houlihan Lokey’s full-time junior bankers receive access to the firm’s entrepreneurial culture, which includes many mentorship opportunities, internal mobility options, and clear paths to promotion. According to some insiders, promotion paths can be too rigid, based on a certain amount of time with the firm as opposed to completely merit-based.

Although hours can be long at times, work/life balance can be achieved. The firm tends not to overstaff junior bankers, and its unlimited vacation policy allows for significant time off. In addition, it’s possible to work remotely on certain days. As for compensation, salaries and bonuses are competitive, but the 401(k) policy could be better. With respect to wellness benefits, Houlihan Lokey offers gym reimbursements and BetterHelp subscriptions, and it has a healthy living committee that promotes various group events.

Although Houlihan Lokey’s staff isn’t too diverse, the firm has been going to lengths to improve diversity hiring and retention—the efforts are in place, according to insiders, but are taking time to see results. As for the firm’s business outlook, Houlihan Lokey is very well positioned compared to its peers. Its complementary businesses—investment banking, valuation, and restructuring—allow the firm to thrive in a variety of economic environments. 

Hiring Process

“Ideal candidate is hardworking and intelligent, and can also fit in well within the welcoming culture.”

“Candidates need to be proficient in accounting above all. Looking for kids who show they have an agile mind and can think on their feet.”

Interview Questions

“Typical corporate finance, restructuring questions. Who gets paid in a waterfall based on secured/unsecured claims? What happens when a lien is unperfected? How to calculate a bond's yield based on coupon and price, etc.”

“Balance a balance sheet, perpetuity questions, DCF nuances.”

“Modeling tests for laterals, accounting tests for new hires. Technicals are fairly advanced—LBO cases, advanced accounting questions, etc.”

“They incorporate a modeling session into the interview process.”

Intern Experience

“The training was very well planned and organized. The team was very accommodating and helpful, and roped me in whenever possible.”

“Got a diverse experience on multiple different projects, and analysts were very supportive of my development. I didn't really have any bad things about it.”

“Lots of real deal experience and exposure to the team.”

“People were very welcoming. Direct experience on live deals and with senior management.”

Career Development

“Entrepreneurial firm where you can seek out opportunities from within. Given our smaller size (approximately 2,328 employees), we don't have a lot of formal career tracks outside of one's group, but that will evolve as the firm matures/grows.”

“The firm is very supportive with assisting its employees in their careers. However, the firm holds too tightly to time-based promotion methodologies vs merit-based ones.”

“Global footprint allows people to transfer to different offices. We have some of the best restructuring bankers in the industry, and being on deals with them provides for the best form of mentorship and training.”

“Despite rapid growth, the firm is still very entrepreneurial—lots of mentorship opportunities and paths to promotion. However, if you don’t have an internal champion, it can impact your career growth.”

Quality of Life

“As far as investment banks go, I can't imagine a better environment/culture to operate within. People are ‘human’ and allow for one to have a life outside of work.”

“No allotted vacation time, so every has to get cleared. However, generally, HL aims not to understaff, so I generally work on only two deals and some marketing prospects at one time. That helps to maintain day-to-day work/life balance.”

“Ability to take vacation is mostly driven by clients’ needs and expectations. Houlihan Lokey lets you take as much vacation as you would like. Not surprisingly, the best bankers work the most (and hence why they are the best).”

“The silver lining in Covid is the ability to now work remotely so seamlessly, during holidays and otherwise. So, it makes visiting family and friends more tenable that what I think the industry was like before Covid. Similarly, the group is as understanding as any investment banking group I've heard of on the Street in terms of respecting work/life in the demanding industry that is investment banking. However, given the fast-paced nature of the job, I never feel like I'm actually on ‘vacation.’ But that's also a reflection of nearly everyone on the team being so hardworking—no one wants to be unconnected for that long.”

Salary and Benefits

“Competitive pay and relatively low portion of stock compensation, but mediocre 401(k) match and cash bonus deferral even for junior employees.”

“HL definitely pays below other top restructuring groups, but I don't really mind because I also fewer hours than people at top restructuring groups. However, the structure of the compensation could be better. For example, 20 percent of every bonus is deferred six months—no other bank does this. Additionally, they pay a ‘signing bonus’ for associate promotion, but this amount is netted against the stub year number, so it’s really just a prepayment with a longer clawback period.”

“It is pay for performance and in my experience to date, pay amounts have been fair to both myself as well as my team members I oversee.”

“Great bonus system, but they should match 401(k) for officers.”

Wellness Efforts

"While the Firm ‘buys in’ to wellness efforts, the execution is developing. Food/snack/beverage choices improved to become healthier. I am seeing relevant presentations addressing mental health. However, mental health insurance benefits are lacking.”

“Healthy living committee promotes monthly group events to promote active lifestyles. Gym reimbursement. Healthy snacks and meal options. BetterHelp subscriptions.”

“They make a real attempt to promote wellness with healthy food options, occasional on-site massages, and on-site flu shots.”

“HL does try to get the office out for healthy living initiatives, usually exercise-based group activities. They also cover gym memberships, which is a plus.”

Diversity and ESG Initiatives

“The effort and initiative is there, and we have support from all levels of the firm. The results of these efforts are taking time.”

“We are certainly trying. We are still largely a firm of white males, but that is changing/evolving. It will take years, maybe even a decade or two, before we will be satisfied in effecting a change, but that is not for lack of trying or interest in having a diverse workforce.”

“I believe Houlihan is doing more in terms of diversity initiatives, but that progress has not been realized yet.”

“There is an alarmingly low number of females in restructuring.”

Business Outlook

“We have complementary businesses— investment banking, financial restructuring, valuation advisory—that enable us to thrive in a variety of economic environments. Leadership has grown up within the firm and has a measured growth approach, which enables us to have a steady path forward at all times.”

“Houlihan in my opinion continues to be well positioned to succeed and thrive in the restructuring advisory market—in the NYC office, in the U.S. as a whole, and globally, especially as we build out our presence in Asia. I wish we had more debtor side mandates as FRG [financial risk group] bankers, but given the structure of our banking, I don't think there's much that will change about it.”

“I believe that we will face an upcoming period of rising interest rates and recession. This will be beneficial to products such as restructuring and dispute resolution, disruptive to products such as valuation, and disadvantageous to products such as corporate finance and transaction services.”

“We’re in a recession, so we will see. I think we will be just fine, though.”

Houlihan Lokey

10250 Constellation Blvd., 5th floor
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Phone: (310) 553-8871

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Public
Stock Symbol: HLI
Stock Exchange: NYSE
CEO: Scott Beiser
2023 Employees (All Locations): 2,600

Major Office Locations

Los Angeles, CA, US
Atlanta, GA, US
Chicago, IL, US
Boston, MA, US
Minneapolis, US
New York, NY, US
Dallas, TX, US
Houston, TX, US
Miami, FL, US
San Francisco, CA, US
Washington, D.C., US
London, UK
Paris, FR
Frankfurt, DE
Amsterdam, NL
Dubai, AE
Madrid, EW
Milan, IT
Beijing, CN
Hong Kong, CN
Singapore, SG
Sydney, AU
Tokyo, JP
Manchester, UK
Munich, Germany
Stockholm, Sweden
Tel Aviv, Israel
Zurich, Switzerland
Fukuoka, Japan
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Mumbai, India
Gurugram, India
Osaka, Japan
Shanghai, China