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Announcing the 2016 Best Investment Banks to Work for

best investment banks to work for

Ivy Exec recently polled three thousand community members to identify the best large and boutique investment banks across the globe.

These rankings and reviews were created to provide an inside look into the industry powerhouses and small but mighty firms, to help job seekers make more informed decisions about their next career opportunity.

The survey allowed respondents to thoughtfully and confidentially rate their current or former employer based on a wide set of criteria including the strength of leadership, compensation, company culture, quality of work, and other factors.*

Here are the findings:

  • Goldman takes the Gold

Coming in at #1 in our list of large Investment Banks is none other than Goldman Sachs. With an overall score of 4.88/5, it’s not surprising to see this heavy-hitter grabbing the top spot.

Regarding Quality of Work, Compensation, Leadership, and Prestige, Goldman Sachs outscored its closest competitors when reviewed by its employees. Only BMO Capital Markets outranked Goldman in terms of Company Culture amongst large firms.

Like most firms within the industry, Goldman is not for the faint of heart. It takes a certain professional to thrive in its culture. Simply put, many survey respondents identified the culture as ‘intense.’ But let’s be honest – would you expect anything less of this powerhouse?

“It is very intense, but professional working here…” shares a former employee. “Important to know before working here is that they have high expectations, but that will make you a stronger performer and better at your job,” reported one respondent.

That said, there’s probably no better name to have on your resume. One employee shared, “The other companies know if you can survive GS, you can survive everywhere.”

  • Best of the Boutiques

A few firms stand out in the rankings of top boutique investment banks to work for**. Evercore and Headwaters MB took the top spots in most categories for Leadership, Culture, Money, Work, and Prestige, and as the overall best boutiques to work for.

Evercore, Headquartered in New York, ranked #1 overall for best boutique Investment Banks. When working at Evercore, “Transaction exposure and compensation are fantastic and among the highest if not the highest in the industry,” reported a former VP. However, great compensation and opportunities come at a price: “Work/life balance is non-existent. Flexibility is non-existent” the VP also shared. Survey respondents reported 70 hour work weeks on average.

Hailing from Denver, Headwaters MB is a middle market investment banking firm that boasts a slightly different culture. One current employee described the firm as “Professionally laid back.” A Vice President at the firm reported, “In my interview, they interviewed for culture fit before any consideration of skill.” A Managing Director shared that the firm has: “Respect for people’s lives, great sense of humor and camaraderie, hard driving workplace but not callous.”

  • Mentorship is a Must

A recurring theme for many employees was a desire for more mentorship and training opportunities. As many survey respondents can attest, it’s not easy to thrive in this sink-or-swim industry.

Survival requires not only chops, brains, and an insatiable hunger to advance, but also a veteran to provide feedback and guidance along the way. “You must network and find a sponsor if you want to see your career move forward both financially and through development,” said a former Vice President at J.P. Morgan. “I would increase the number of training programs offered to junior level staff,” said a Managing Director at Headwaters MB – a sentiment that was echoed by an analyst within the company.

For those getting started at a new firm – or for companies seeking to strengthen their team — formal and informal mentorship should be a top priority.


*An on-line research survey was conducted of approximately 3,000 professionals from our Ivy Exec Community and beyond. Respondents were asked to complete a detailed, confidential survey on the investment banking firms they currently work for, or firms they recently left.

The goal was to provide professionals with an idea of the current landscape of investment banking firms as employers and places of work. Survey participants evaluated firms across five key parameters: Work, Culture, Money, Leadership, and Prestige. Responses were analyzed using a proprietary algorithm to rank the top investment banking firms.

The data presented in the rankings reflects the views and opinions of the survey participants and a proprietary Market Index factor based on investment banking firms’ rankings by major publications.

**Boutique firms, for purposes of these rankings, include Investment Banks with less than 2,000 employees.

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