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Vault’s Verdict

A top investment bank when it comes to prestige, Jefferies has been growing in size and reputation in recent years. The firm has hired many well-respected senior bankers away from other firms, and continues to hire top-notch junior bankers. As for whom Jefferies looks to hire at a more junior level, the firm wants self-starters willing to take on responsibility who can think strategically and anticipate upcoming events. The firm also wants candidates to know why they specifically want to work for Jefferies. Internships are said to be very good experiences where interns will work on live deals with senior bankers, although some interns lament the fact that the generalist aspect of the program doesn’t allow for a chance to get very knowledgeable about any one area. Full-time insiders, meanwhile, say that the firm’s culture is excellent and very collegial. As for career development, senior bankers from vice presidents to MDs are always willing to help juniors learn and progress. An open-door policy reigns at Jefferies. As for compensation, it is very good and said to be near the top of the Street average. Benefits are also quite good, though there are some areas for improvement. Philanthropic efforts and diversity hiring are focuses of the firm, although some insiders believe the firm could be more diverse with respect to women and ethnic minorities. And as for Jefferies’ business outlook, it is bright. The firm’s leadership is strong and, despite a tough market, the firm is positioned well to continue to profit from strong investment banking and trading businesses.

Note: The firm did not participate in our 2022 Banking Survey; all comments are from our surveys in previous years.

Hiring Process

“HR takes a reaaaaaally long time to get back. My process took several months from my first interview until the last one. Associates and up must meet with the head of the investment bank.”

“Standard interview process. First rounds are either in person or phone, then final rounds are in person at the office. Candidates are told either way within the next week or so. We’re looking for someone who is, of course, smart, but also has a great personality. Not just someone who is antisocial. Again, fit is very important for us.”

“Self starter who is willing to step up and take ownership. We look for people that want to own projects, think strategically about how to move them forward, and anticipate upcoming events and needs.”

Interview Questions

“The only thing that differentiates our recruiting process is a heavier emphasis on fit. If you’re applying for a job here, you need to knock the ‘Why Jefferies?’ question out of the park. Reach out to alumni and other connections already at the firm, understand our business and recent deals, understand our culture and what makes us unique. We are competing for candidates with firms that have longer histories and larger platforms, but we do think we can offer junior bankers the best experience. We don’t want to give out offers to people who will end up elsewhere—candidates need to be convincing.”

Intern Experience

“Generalist program offers exposure to most of the product and coverage groups across the investment bank. Interns are given the opportunity to network as much as they so desire an, to a more limited extent, receive exposure to senior management throughout the summer in a weekly speaker series. However, an unavoidable consequence of the generalist program is that the interns are ‘public property’ for the summer and, as a result, the staffings can feel haphazard. Many of my peers in the summer program felt that the structure of the generalist program prevented them from obtaining a meaningful understanding of any particular product or coverage group.”

“Good exposure to different groups within the bank, given the generalist nature of the internship program. Experienced and knowledgeable HR staff manages the process. Good selection of candidates from various schools (both core and non-core) allowing for increased diversity. But there’s an uneven workflow, given the nature of the generalist pool. Some of the groups within the bank didn’t use interns as much as necessary, while a few others used the interns too much to the point that most of the workflow for any particular intern was coming from just one group.”

“The best part of the internship was that the focus was exclusively on learning. Traders and salespeople use a very specific vernacular when transacting, and to anyone who has not spent a great deal of time on a trading desk, it would sound foreign at best. Having the opportunity to sit with the traders for hours each day was a great way to learn the specific diction that they implement and, subsequently, to understand their decision-making processes when executing trades. The worst aspect of the internship was that I was enlisted quite frequently to pick up food for some of the traders.”

Career Development 

“Firm aims to maintain good people and is very flexible in terms of group and geography. I know many people who have transferred groups (even departments) and offices at their request. I also know of instances where individuals have expressed a desire to leave the industry altogether and the firm has been helpful in placing them in other positions. - Senior bankers make an effort to get junior bankers in front of clients and involved in all aspects of deals. In my second month on the job (as an analyst) my MD took me to China for an IPO org meeting. At the end of my second year, all of our clients knew me by name and often called me directly with questions and/or requests. Culture is extremely flat, and if you’re successful there’s tremendous opportunity to act beyond your title.”

“The firm still has that ‘young and growing’ structure, which allows for a more open environment and provides a better forum to learn on the fly. Since we do not have a very strong international presence in some of the fastest growing regions in the world (such as Asia), international opportunities are more limited compared to other firms. IBD just instituted a new formal training program (for associates and up), which I think is a genius idea and is extremely useful to help further develop the knowledge of Jefferies employees.”

“The best part of our firm’s career development opportunities are the open doors with vice presidents through MDs which help to allow analysts learn a great deal from senior team members and allows for them to engage in thoughtful discussions about assessing client needs and analyzing strategic situations. The worst aspect of our firm’s career development is the initial training program at an analyst level because it’s purely reliant on Training the Street, which is useful, but only from a theoretical perspective, as many of the groups develop their models differently, and the teaching is mediocre.”

Quality of Life

“Senior bankers in my group don’t create unnecessary work. This might be specific to the restructuring group and not of the entire I-bank division. Also, bankers in my group understand if personal events come up and you need to take a leave, which I appreciate. Additionally, there’s a good banter among the bankers, as people tend to joke around a lot, which makes work interesting.”

“Seeking a career as an investment banker requires making a conscious decision to give up work/life balance for a few years. Jefferies is no different in terms of demands on personal time. However, I have enjoyed the relationships I’ve built to date with other members of the healthcare investment banking team, which has helped to make the extended time spent in the office enjoyable.”

“The worst aspect from a ‘quality of life’ perspective is that work can be extremely stressful at times. The sales and trading environment is one where large risks are taken on a daily basis, and that sometimes causes people to act in ways that you would not generally see in a normal social setting. For individuals that can barely handle the stress of school, I would say that sales and trading is not for them. That said, the positives vastly outweigh the negatives. First and foremost, the people at Jefferies are its greatest asset—I have never been in a room with so many interesting, intelligent people as when I started at Jefferies. On a more superficial note, our upper management is very good about scheduling firm events with clients, and on numerous occasions they have ordered food for the whole trading floor. Lastly, while work can be extremely busy, there can also be quite a bit of down time (especially Friday afternoons) and it’s very fun to get to talk to coworkers when things are a little more calm.”

“Even at the analyst level, there’s an open-door policy. We work hard, but people aren’t unreasonable with the hours or workload. In my 10 months here, I haven’t felt like anyone has just created work unnecessarily. If the analysts are working late on something, many times the associates and VPs are working right alongside the analysts to review or provide feedback. There’s also a strong emphasis on being able to easily approach supervisors with any concerns. I strongly believe the quality of life and culture at Jefferies is significantly better than most firms across the Street. I had the same perception as an intern and I was worried that it might have just been a facade coming back full time, but that hasn’t been the case at all. The firm works hard to make it a great place to work and it’s been very evident in my time at the firm.”

Salary and Benefits 

“The compensation is very fair, especially considering that first-year analysts across the Street are roughly evenly compensated. The downside is that Jefferies has become very strict with its food policy for the weekends and also do not help you join a gym if you are outside of the New York office. Overall, compensation appears to be very fair.”

“Our firm pays almost exactly the same as top Wall Street firms (we’re known for that, apparently). Only bummer is that our budget is slightly lower/worse than other firms that have it. However, we do have company cards we can use for meals as well, which is awesome. Health insurance coverage isn’t the greatest plan—there’s a decent amount of out of pocket.”

“Cash is king. Very little deferred compensation or stock this year. But all of it can be clawed back if you leave for a competitor within a year.”

“The firm needs to improve its 401(k) contribution. An on-site gym would also be nice.”

Diversity, Philanthropy, and Green Initiatives

“We have some very passionate individuals in the firm when it comes to philanthropy, which I think is awesome. The amount of money our firm raises for different organizations is great, and several people/the firm put on annual events to raise money for philanthropic purposes. A great example of our firm’s take on philanthropy: around Christmas time, the firm sends out an email to everyone that literally allows you to Click a button in the email and automatically deduct a specified amount from your next paycheck for whichever organization Jefferies is sponsoring. How awesome is that?”

“I think the firm is trying to improve, but I would like to see more investment in diversity recruiting.”

“Not many women here, but what do you expect? Fewer minorities than at other shops.”

Business Outlook

“Jefferies’ energy team has a very strong position in the market and has been able to navigate the financial crisis through expertise. Specifically, the group has taken a unique approach to IB by hiring engineers and geologists to better understand the shale boom in the United States, and has really taken advantage of the enormous capital demands of small players in the industry. This has helped our group pull in the biggest deals in the industry over the past three years. This group is particularly safe at this time, and gives me a very positive outlook on the firm’s business outlook.”

“Investment banking revenues will be squeezed going forward, which is where our firm gets the vast majority of its revenues, unlike other major investment banks that are more diversified. That makes me wary of our outlook. However, we have very, very prudent management and they stay away from putting the firm in any situations that could make it insolvent (i.e. European debt). Our chairman/board of directors and senior management are all extremely passionate about this company and that inspires confidence in everyone else. Despite the not-so-great economic climate, I still have faith that Jefferies will thrive simply because of the senior management here.”

“Jefferies is well positioned to continue to capitalize on growth opportunities in the various investment banking businesses. We continue to attract top talent from other bulge bracket firms who bring with them their book of clients and contribute to deal volume growth. I believe this firm is better positioned than any other in the industry to achieve continued year-over-year trading and investment banking profits due to our bridge position at the very top end of the middle market.”

“In my opinion, our firm could not have a brighter future ahead. To begin, Jefferies is a very financially stable firm, and it benefits greatly from a strong partnership with conglomerate Leucadia National Corporation. The combined approximately 50 percent stake of Leucadia and our CEO Rich Handler, coupled with very high ownership by insiders in general, suggests that interests are strongly aligned at Jefferies. Risk is thoroughly scrutinized, with traders having specific mandates and many eyes watching each move to circumvent unexpected, large losses. Furthermore, Jefferies is in an outstanding position to grow its market share moving forward as it is the only large securities broker dealer remaining that is not encumbered by the ‘bank holding company’ designation. As a result, Jefferies’ ability to take risk for clients as well as opportunistically for its own account will grow revenues as a much higher pace than any other firm on Wall Street. To a certain extent, I feel like Jefferies is the last vestige of an old Wall Street model that worked well, and to that end I think that we will be inordinately successful moving forward.”


520 Madison Ave.
12th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 284-2300

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Public
Stock Symbol: JEF
Stock Exchange: NYSE
Chairman & CEO: Richard B. Handler
2023 Employees (All Locations): 2,885

Major Office Locations

San Francisco, CA
Stamford, CT
Atlanta, GA
Chicago, IL
New Orleans, LA
Boston, MA
New York, NY
Dallas, TX
Houston, TX
Zurich, Switzerland
Tokyo, Japan