Investment Banks have always been attractive employers for ambitious business graduates, but they have lost a bit of their gloss over the last few years. Many haven’t been as profitable and there have been considerable scandals in the wake of the GFC.
The Financial Times noted that there was a definite downward trend in graduates heading into a career as an investment bank – a 40% drop between 2008-2014. Loosing out in part to the tech companies and consulting firms which are now offering more enticing overall packages with better work environments and work/life balance.
The investment banks are now taking this on board and they have been addressing some of the concerns. The figures say the investments bank can nonetheless afford to be very selective and still receive a huge amount of applications, that might be on the rise again.
It is still an exciting, challenging career to consider, so let’s take a look at where you might want to work. Or, if you are looking to change firms, who is now worth considering.
The latest Vault Banking 50, a survey ranking the top North American investment banks to work for, still has Goldman Sachs as number 1, mostly due to their high prestige factor. Coming in at number 2 is Evercore, followed by Centerview Partners.
Vault considers not only the bank’s reputation, but the ranking also surveys other factors including employee satisfaction with the culture, work hours, compensation and promotion policies.
In 2017, almost 2,400 verified banking professionals from all levels submitted their confidential responses. The survey is in two parts, with the first section where respondents rank other firms they were familiar with on prestige, making up 40% of the weighting.
Next, the consultants are asked to rate their own employers in areas like business outlook, compensation, and hours worked.
This gives the following areas and weights: firm culture (20%), compensation (10%), business outlook (10%), overall satisfaction (10%), work-life balance (5%), and training (5%). Goldman’s overall score was 8.380, while Evercore scored 8.311 and Centerview scored 8.308.
Here the full top 10 firms in this year’s Banking 50:
5.Moelis & Company
6.Greenhill & Co.
8.Perella Weinberg Partners
9.Bank of America
The prestige of the Goldman Sachs name remains. Founded originally in 1869, it still holds a certain weight and is definitely the key reason it holds the top position. It scored 8.960 (out of 10), which is almost a point higher than its nearest rivals Morgan Stanley (8.177) and JP Morgan (8.036).
The results from the inside aren’t quite as glowing for Goldman, but it still did well overall. It finished in the top 15 in 22 of 23 workplace categories, and reached in the top 5 in five categories, including CSR (corporate social responsibility) and all four diversity categories (overall, women, minorities, and LGBT).
Goldman Sachs also made it onto the LinkedIn Top Companies 2018 list a number 24. LinkedIn notes that Goldman Sachs is transitioning from a ‘(lately stumbling) fixed-income and commodities trading business to one that plays hard in consumer and corporate lending”.
Goldman expects that transition to generate an addition $5 billion in revenue in three years, according to a recent proposal to the board. LinkedIn data also shows Goldman has been busy hiring new talent in Salt Lake City.
This squares with the Goldman Sachs’ business outlook score rising from 7.364 to 8.065 on the survey. However, the firm’s performance slipped in employee satisfaction which fell by 0.138 of a point, as well as in international mobility (-0.38), promotion policies (-0.363), benefits (-0.219), and internal mobility (-0.204).
One respondent says, “The firm is extremely focused on improving work/life balance. In the time that I’ve been here, I’ve seen a tremendous difference, not only as a result of formal policies but also in the culture and mindset of those who work here.”
Derek Loosvelt, Vault Senior Finances Editor also notes: “Goldman provides professionals with excellent deal experience, the chance to work with the top bankers on Wall Street, and several great workplace benefits. It has protected-weekend-day policies for junior bankers, no-working-past-midnight policies for interns, fast-track promotions, and a modern performance review system.
Our survey-takers tell us that there’s not a better banking brand to have on your resume than Goldman’s.” For these reasons Goldman is still seen as a leader on Wall Street when it comes to innovative workplace policies.
A survey by Tricumen also says Goldman’s investment bankers are among the most productive in the Americas. Though it is not doing as well in Asia.
Boutique firm Evercore keeps rising, jumping another two places from number 4 to number 2 this year in the Banking 50. Evercore scored top spot in two workplace categories: Formal Training and Informal Training.
The numbers certainly reflect their focus on creating a healthy working environment for its employees, and Evercore’s employees were among the most satisfied employees in the survey.
It also ranked in the top 5 firms in 19 of 23 workplace categories and improved on the previous year in all but one workplace category. In both leadership and culture it was second, whilst in business outlook, it was third.
One Evercore respondent describes:“we have an outstanding, very teamwork-oriented, and collaborative culture. The firm is filled with very intelligent people treating each other with respect and working together to give clients the best advice possible.
The atmosphere is very positive—lots of high fives on wins and no dressing-down calls if you miss a piece of business. We try to help people balance their lives as best we can, but we have so much deal flow that it can be tough.”
Centerview is a tiny firm in comparison to Goldman – only a decade old and 280 employees– yet it manages to hold its own very well. It is also about a fifth of the size of Evercore. Centerview scored the top spot in nine categories: Ability to Challenge, Compensation, Culture, Firm Leadership, Hiring Process, Internal Mobility, Promotion Policies, Relationships with Managers, and Overall Job Satisfaction.
The survey shows they have a very healthy work culture and happy employees. “There is a true sense of camaraderie and partnership and the apprenticeship culture is life and well,” describes one survey respondent.
“Since there is such strong investment in the team, the quality of the work is that much stronger since the team is happier and invigorated….For those people who want lots of responsibility, their opinions to matter, work on important transactions with great people and to be well compensated, there is no better place than Centerview.”