BLACKSTONE”S CONSISTENCY EARNS IT THE NOD
So how did Blackstone come out on top again this year? It might seem like a mild upset at first glance. Blackstone only earned the top score in one category: Hiring process. However, Blackstone’s strength was consistency. Consistent excellence, that is. Among the 21 employer categories measured by the Vault 50 – excluding diversity – Blackstone ranked among the Top 10 performers in 19 of them. Formal training (#11) and vacation policies (#12) were the only categories where Blackstone employees ranked their firm below the Top 10. Compare that to second-place Goldman Sachs, which missed the Top 10 in 16 employment factors, including the all-important areas of compensation, leadership, firm culture, and overall satisfaction. In fact, Goldman Sachs’ highest ranking came in innocuous green initiatives categories (with the firm’s highest score stemming from its philanthropy). Conversely, Morgan Stanley is a Top 10 firm in 13 categories. But it also misses the cut in compensation and overall satisfaction (while ranking 10th in both firm leadership and firm culture) – far lower than Blackstone in these rubrics.
Blackstone’s secret sauce lies in its lean, tight-knit teams where everyone contributes. “We work on complex, interesting deals involving multi-party negotiations and opportunities for creative solutions,” writes one mid-level staffer involved in restructurings. “Employees are given a higher level of responsibility than at any of our peers, which leads to a better and more rewarding learning experience and greater career opportunities whether we remain at the firm or leave. The group has a strong culture and treats each person with respect.” Another respondent sums up the Blackstone bargain this way: “Work on the best deals with the best bankers with the best access to career progression in the industry.”Another junior banker, who raves about the firms “great quality of life” and the “senior guys’ respect for your time and opinion,” adds that the firm’s prestige makes a stint at Blackstone valuable regardless of role. “Suck it up for 2 years and get $400k+ job,” he writes.” Considering Blackstone’s across-the-board high rankings, most aren’t biding their time waiting for a big payout somewhere else. “The winning culture is infectious,” adds another M&A staffer.
DOES GOLDMAN SACHS SKATE BY ON REPUTATION?
Like McKinsey in consulting, Goldman Sachs’ reputation precedes it. That’s one reason why it topped Vault’s prestige rankings. And it isn’t even close. Goldman Sachs’ 8.92 score towers above Morgan Stanley (8.103), J.P. Morgan (7.92), and Blackstone (7.797). In fact, you’ll note a dichotomy: Bankers who don’t work for Goldman Sachs rank it higher for prestige than employees score it for quality of life and career. In other words, the firm’s overall rank may be a lagging indicator. What does that mean? Such a gap could eventually pull Goldman Sachs’ prestige scores down as employee satisfaction – expressed in terms of “pressure,” “hours,” “demands,” “workload,” and “[limited] advancement” – catch up to industry perception.
But that could be a long time coming. Outside the firm, one banking professional praises Goldman Sachs as being “in a class by itself” when it comes to Wall Street prestige. Another paints the firm as “the smartest guys on the Street.” And one even dubbed it, “The promised land.” Internally, you’ll find terms like “meritocracy,” “diverse and inclusive,” and “teamwork” consistently attached to Goldman Sachs’ by Vault respondents. And the work is described as “rewarding.” What’s more, you’ll find “opportunity” trotted out at every level of the organization (along with the rewards that come with it).
- See next page for the top firms for prestige.