The Best Investment Banks to Work For

Wall Street

When you think of investment banking, you probably imagine beaten-down thirtysomethings, pulling 14 hour days in sterile high rises. They spend their days jumping on conference calls, conducting presentations, and poring over letters of intent. At night, they finish another round of due diligence, capping things off with a midnight call. It pays very well, you concede, but it must consume your life and crush your spirit.

Yeah, right.

These days, investment banks are undergoing quite the transformation. Forget the rough-and-ready, winner-take-all ethos of one-percenters constantly checking their smartphones. These days, bankers are encouraged to take evenings and weekends off. Heck, Goldman Sachs even promotes taking vacations (The horror!). In a 2014 Vault  annual survey of investment bankers, work-balance scores rose from 6.90 to 7.09 in one year (on a 10-point scale). In other words, deal-makers may not have to make the same trade-offs as their predecessors – certainly a boon when recruiting millennial MBAs. As one survey respondent points out: “You get to workout and eat a relaxing dinner Monday through Thursday.”

But don’t think Wall Street is getting too lax, as one respondent pointed out. “You do need to work late Monday through Thursday,” according to one respondent. “I usually leave between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.”

Alas, work-life balance is only a factor for MBAs to weigh with investment banking. Despite shifting expectations and cultural mores, traditional issues like compensation, prestige, and career development still attract some of the most talented MBAs. If you’re looking for the total package, the Blackstone Group is still your best bet for a lucrative and satisfying career.



That was the finding from Vault’s annual Banking 50 Rankings for 2015 published today (Sept. 3). The Blackstone Group retained its  spot as the “best bank to work for.” When it comes to prestige, Goldman Sachs still tops the list.

Vault provides market intelligence, rankings, and ratings based on data collected from employers and professionals. Its annual survey was based on responses from roughly ,3600 banking professionals at all levels. Using a scale from 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest score), respondents were asked to assess the firms where they had a familiarity on prestige (which carried a 40% weight in the ranking). In addition, respondents evaluated their own firm in the areas of firm culture (20%), work-life balance (10%), compensation (10%), business outlook (10%), and overall satisfaction (10%).


Four years ago, the Blackstone Group ranked 24th on the Vault Banking 50. Now, the firm has been #1 for two years running. What’s their secret? One employee cited their “executive team and its diversification strategy,” calling employee morale “probably higher than ever.” And that’s a big selling point to the Wharton, Harvard, and NYU MBAs that it targets.

Goldman Sachs continued to be the perennial runner-up, ranking either #2 or #3 over the past four years (after holding the #1 spot in Vault’s first-ever ranking in 2011). One employee touted recent tweaks to the firm’s culture, coupled with giving young talent meaningful responsibilities, as major factors in recruiting and retention.  “All the new initiatives (such as no work on Saturdays for analysts and associates) have begun to change mindsets. Goldman is one of the best firms on the Street at giving junior bankers the ability to step up and have meaningful client interactions.”