EVERCORE AND CENTERVIEW PARTNERS CLAW THEIR WAY INTO THE TOP 5
There were several big winners in this year’s rankings – particularly among boutique firms. Evercore, for example, leapfrogged J.P. Morgan and Centerview Partners to take the fourth spot. And Centerview, which ranked ninth just three years ago, managed to fend off Houlihan Lokey and Greenhill & Company to hold onto the fifth spot.
“Evercore and Centerview have both been on a tear as of late,” observes Loosvelt. “They’ve been rising in stature for several years, and they’re now legitimate contenders to the perennial top three. Evercore had a particularly strong showing in many workplace categories this year, making huge jumps in rankings such as Formal Training (up 10 spots to number 2), Work/Life Balance (up six places to number 6), and Compensation (up three spots to number 3).”
Indeed, Evercore is a true rags-to-riches story. Founded in 1995, the firm ranked just 27th overall in Vault’s 2011 rankings (and 11th for prestige). Now, it is known by observers for devoting “significant time and effort is spent on career development starting at a very junior level,” resulting in “a large percentage of top-level bankers [rising] through internal promotions.” And this atmosphere has fostered a talented, energized, and loyal team according to one restructuring staffer. “From all of my conversations with my peers across the street, there is no better place to work in terms of professional growth, client coverage, mentorship, exit opportunities, compensation, work/life balance, and culture [than Evercore]. It is the best of both worlds – the coverage, prestige and exposure of a bulge bracket firm with all of the cultural, developmental, and responsibility benefits of working at a boutique.”
Centerview has followed a similar path, Loosvelt adds. “[Centerview] “is well known for its extremely generous pay packages (it ranked No. 2 in Compensation this year) and its excellent senior management (it ranked number 1 in Firm Leadership), it continues to land more and more lucrative advisory assignments. And its two-place rise in prestige to number 11 this year is an incredible story in itself, considering that just four years ago the firm ranked number 29 in prestige.” Like Blackstone, Centerview offers “more responsibility and client interaction as a junior banker compared to bulge brackets,” observes one Vault 50 survey respondent. As a result, Loosvelt shares that some banking insiders consider Centerview to be the “premier independent investment bank.”
BANK OF AMERICA SOARS AS J.P. MORGAN STUMBLES
Bank of America also made significant strides in 2016. Ranked 29th just four years, BOA bounced from 22nd to 11th, scoring particularly high in international opportunities, internal mobility, and work-life balance. The firm also rose in prestige among banking professionals, climbing from 10th to 8th. And one employee attributes this to the firm focusing on the basics. “The bank listens to its employees, senior leadership is extremely engaged and pays very close attention to employee satisfaction and is held accountable to improvements. The bank’s approach to customers is extremely collaborative and does everything it can to break down silos so we can integrate with all areas of the bank. The culture is unlike anything I have ever experienced. All colleagues pitch in to help their peers and junior associates.”
Other big gains were made by Robert W. Baird & Company (41st to 14th – notching big gains in business outlook and benefits) and the Cowen Group (46th to 17th – bumped up by high scores in firm leadership and business outlook). In both cases, the firms’ rankings were anchored down by low prestige scores from non-employees (41st for Baird and for 45th Cowen), again reflecting the gap between what employees experience and what outside observers think.
At the opposite end, J.P. Morgan slipped from 4th to 8th, despite retaining the third spot in prestige. Notably, the firm didn’t rank in the top 15 for compensation, firm culture, and employee satisfaction –which collectively account for 40% of a ranking (The same total as prestige). The firm also earned pedestrian scores in areas like work-life balance, benefits, and work hours (though it did rank as the best banking firm for technology professionals). But don’t be surprised if J.P. Morgan’s fall is a one year aberration. Survey respondents still heaped praise on the firm, noting that it “continues to be everywhere” and describing it as the “cream of the crop.”
- See next page for how MBAs rate their experience in investment banking.