Job Search

The Best Boutique Investment Banks to Work For

best boutique investment banks work

Bigger is not always better when it comes to picking the right investment bank to work for.

The good news is that there is tremendous diversity among the boutique firms whether you see yourself working for a bank with a couple thousand employees or one with less than 100. Each has something unique to offer and has benefits worth considering in your job search.

To help break down the facts on what makes the best of the best, here is a special Ivy Exec spotlight on the top boutique investment banks in our ranking.

Here are the Top 3 Best Boutique Investment Banks to Work for

  1. Evercore (New York, NY)

With 1,000 employees in offices across 11 countries, Evercore unites the best aspects of working for a boutique firm with the array of options more typically available at its far larger counterparts. With a strong commitment to operating with the utmost independence from conflicts of interest, Evercore specializes in investment banking and management. Employees at the firm agree that Evercore is delivering on its bold mission statement and 88% of them support the current leadership. Evercore’s leadership received particularly high praise for being savvy about the company’s business. The firm also scored strong marks from employees for providing them with a steady stream of intellectually stimulating work.

“Love the corporate culture, professionalism and pride,” a current managing director tells Ivy Exec. “[I] would not change a thing.”

However, other employees would change at least one thing: the company’s challenge with promoting an effective work-life balance.

“Zero work-life balance at all levels,” a former vice president says.

Given this criticism, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the firm received low scores for providing adequate flex time and telecommuting opportunities. But even with this challenge, employees still praise the corporate culture and were happy to have excellent transaction exposure.

  1. Duff & Phelps (New York, NY)

Duff & Phelps provides its clients with top-notch insight into valuation, regulatory matters and corporate finance. The firm has also acted as a trusted consultant in setting standards and best practices for the industry. With 2,000 employees in 20 countries across the globe, the firm is large enough to provide a wide range of geographic options to its employees. In terms of benefits, employees rank Duff & Phelps with particularly high marks for valuing their well being not just as professionals but as people. The firm scored especially well in the areas of providing flex time and additional maternity or paternity leave.

Employees expressed satisfaction with the type of work they were asked to execute on. In fact, Duff & Phelps received some of the highest praise of all the firms Ivy Exec profiled for providing intellectually stimulating projects.

“Interesting projects, diversity of work, freedom to innovate,” a former associate says, summing up the experience with the firm.

  1. Headwaters MB (Denver, CO)

Out of all of the investment banks Ivy Exec profiled, Headwaters MB received the highest ratings across all key metrics from its employees. For culture, work, prestige, leadership and money, employees put Headwaters above even Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and all of the other industry heavy hitters. So what makes Headwaters so spectacular? For starters, employees gave the company nearly perfect scores in terms of providing intellectually stimulating work, giving ample opportunities to learn and grow professionally and having a positive impact on future career prospects. An astonishing 99% of employees approve of the company’s leadership with the senior team receiving special recognition for communicating clearly and setting a clear and consistent vision.

“Smart, motivated people; strong work ethic; highly transparent management [and] lots of trust built throughout the organization,” a current managing director tells Ivy Exec.

With only 93 employees, Headwaters is small enough that employees feel that they have a personal relationship with the people at the top of the organization—and they like what they see.

“The founder/CEO is one of the best people you’ll ever meet,” a current analyst says. “He sets the atmosphere and makes this…a great place to work.”

The company’s benefits are also impressively generous. Employees expressed that they are especially pleased with Headwaters’ flex time, maternity and paternity leave and telecommuting policies.
“[Headwaters is] tolerant of all races, creeds and genders. Good people. In my interview they interviewed for culture fit before any consideration of skill,” a current vice president says. “No micromanagement, unlimited vacation (if you can use it, it’s there). Generally good vibes throughout the office. Surrounded by hard workers.”

Or, as one managing director puts it simply enough: “I love working at Headwaters.”

About the Author

R. Kress is an Emmy Award winning journalist whose reporting and writing has appeared in national media from NBC News to the International Herald Tribune. She has covered news from cities around the world including Jerusalem, Krakow, Amman and Mumbai.