Job Satisfaction Rates At Top I-Banks

Headed into a career in finance? Want to know where you’ll be happiest? Or maybe just where you’ll make the most money? (Can it be both? Read on … ) Want to find out where you have the best chance to go from an internship to a full-time position? How about who conducts the hardest — and the easiest — interviews? Folks, you’ve come to the right place.

Wall Street Oasis, a job search and news site that offers an array of services for financial professionals, recently updated its investment banking data based on nearly 50,000 user submissions, including more than 30,000 submissions from i-bank professionals and asset management pros. The data includes feedback on everything from career advancement to reputation, from work-life balance to “fairness,” for the banks in the WSO company database. And that’s a long list of banks, from the “bulge bracket” bigs like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley to notable boutiques like Lazard, Moelis & Company, Raymond James Financial Inc., and Rothschild.  

So which banks are the most desirable destinations? Which are the top employers? In the main category of Overall Employee Satisfaction — call it the “happiness quotient” — the so-called “bulge bracket” banks were the clear favorites. Turns out, finance folks like to work for the largest and most profitable i-banks in the world. Goldman Sachs (98.4%) took top marks, followed by Wells Fargo, Credit Suisse, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and Barclays Capital. All scored above the 90th percentile. Two boutiques chimed in at that point: Houlihan Lokey (90.3%) and Lazard (88.7%). They were followed by JPMorgan Chase (87.1%), Jefferies & Co. (85.5%), and SunTrust Robinson Humphrey STRH (83.9%).


If you’re satisfied with your job overall, that means you’re probably happy with your paycheck. This is borne out by WSO’s data on compensation, showing Los Angeles, California-based Houlihan Lokey in the top spot (98.4%), followed by a bevy of bigs: Credit Suisse (96.8%), Wells Fargo (95.2%), JPMorgan Chase (93.5%), Barclays (91.9%), and Goldman Sachs (90.3%). On the lower end of the rung: Rabobank Group (58.1%), BNP Paribas (56.5%), Piper Jaffray (54.8%), Morgan Stanley Smith Barney (53.2%), and Harris Williams & Co. (51.6%).

Patrick Curtis, founder and CEO of Wall Street Oasis

WSO first released a job satisfaction study in 2015, but it was a static report that was “incredibly cumbersome to compile,” says Patrick Curtis, founder and CEO and a Class of 2010 Wharton MBA. The new report, however, will be updated online automatically as more and more members contribute — a great resource considering WSO’s huge community is so far responsible for more than 1 million posts and 4 million page views per month.

“We created this great static report where we pulled all the data, we ran it, we pulled a beautiful report together, and I thought to myself, ‘That took us months to do right! Is there a way we can do the data as it’s coming in, real-time?'” Curtis tells Poets&Quants. “Our goal was to create a more fluid resource that updates as members contribute to the company database. It’s taken us a long time to do that as well, but now the beauty of it is, it’s done and will sustain itself.”


WSO asks lots of questions in the report, and mostly gets answers that comport to conventional wisdom. Among the other key categories: feedback on job performance and recognition for a job well done, where Credit Suisse was best of the bunch, and the quality of leadership and competence of senior management, both of which were judged to be Goldman Sachs’ forte. Goldman also was deemed the workplace where employees are most proud and happiest to recommend that others should work there, while Credit Suisse was judged better for one’s lifestyle, achieving top marks in management support for time off as well as for work-life balance. Flip side of the coin: Rothschild was voted worst for work-life balance, followed by Oppenheimer, Deloitte, Piper Jaffray, and Imperial Capital.

WSO also measures average hours worked per week. The top firm in that metric was New York-based Greentech Capital Advisors, at an astounding 86.3 hours. Employees at 10 firms report working more than 80 hours in a given week.

“We have a very large data set, especially for banking,” Curtis says, pointing out that WSO also compiles private equity, hedge fund, and other data. “Some of the really interesting things that I think are useful to candidates looking at these firms, you can look at the intern offer rates, and that’s a super useful graph: It helps you know where to go if you’re deciding between two similar banks. Say you’re mulling internship offers from Credit Suisse and Rothschild or Evercore of Greenhill — you can see that the boutique has a high rate of hiring its interns, and that push you to go with the boutique.


“But we also have loads of data that allows you to dive into any one of the specific companies and actually look at the reviews and look at the interviews and look at the compensation data that kind of makes up these graphs.”

A word about the report’s somewhat unusual methodology. WSO compiles data (from 47,362 total submissions and counting) and ranks banks by percentile using Bayesian probability, so each chart — with a few exceptions, such as actual compensation figures and percentage of interns who are hired to full-time positions — shows the same series of 30 percentages in descending order. For example, Credit Suisse ranked third in Overall Employee Satisfaction at 95.2%, while Wells Fargo ranked third in Professional Growth Opportunities at an identical 95.2%. How is this possible? As Curtis explains, percentiles simply show where a company ranks out of a certain number of companies — in this case, 63. “When we ask an employee a certain question, banks get different scores based on these responses — but that doesn’t change the total number of banks involved in the dataset.”

Curtis says in the example above, where Credit Suisse and Wells Fargo both landed No. 3 on separate metrics but got equal scores, “the reason the percentiles are exactly the same is because for that specific metric, they were both ranked No. 3 out of 63 total firms — in this case the percentile formula is (63 – 3)/63. Another way to look at it: The average score of metric 1, Overall Employee Satisfaction, is 3.6 stars. If a company gets one 5-star review on that metric, “we don’t want to rank that ahead of a company with 10 reviews and an average ranking of 4.9 stars,” Curtis says.

Why do it this way? “The Bayesian stuff,” he continues, “is just a way to deal with companies where there are only a few observations. So, what Bayesian stats allows you to do is pull the companies with less reviews closer to the average of the entire group, so that as more votes come in they are pulled more toward their actual average and away from group average. (This gives you) higher confidence that the score is a true reflection versus just one or two votes (and) prevents companies with only a few great or bad reviews from ranking above or below companies with many great or bad reviews.”

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