Best Investment Banks To Work For In 2021


This year’s biggest jump came courtesy of Moelis & Company, which climbed seven spots into the top 3. In some ways, it was a bounce-back year for Moelis, which ranked 6th just two years ago. This year, Moelis achieved something not even Centerview Partners could match: It ranked in the top 5 in 19 out of 20 Quality of Life and Work categories (Finishing 10th in CSR Initiatives). Notably, Moelis ranked 1st for Benefits, Hours, and Wellness according to employees who took the Vault Banking 25 survey. The firm also ranked 2nd in seven categories (Ability to Challenge, Client Interaction, International Opportunities, Promotion Policies, Relationships With Supervisors, Overall Satisfaction, and Vacation Time) and 3rd in five more measures (Leadership, Formal Training, Hiring Practices, Internal Mobility, and Work-Life Balance).

“[Moelis] also offers generous comp packages—bonuses are said to be at the top of the Street average,” Derek Loosvelt tells P&Q. “Formal and informal mentorship opportunities get rave reviews from juniors, and the firm offers many internal mobility options. Moelis also prioritizes work/life balance, providing many health and wellness initiatives, and insiders very much appreciate that promotion paths are well defined—which is certainly not true at all banks.”

Survey respondents echo Loosvelt’s observations. “The firm has several policies aimed at improving the work/life balance for junior bankers, including protected weekends for analysts and associates,” notes one survey-taker. “Also, there are several team-building events each month, such as team drinks. We’re all expected to work hard, but we generally get to work on live transactions, which provides great learning opportunities.” 

Morgan Stanley and PJT Partners round out the Vault Banking 25. The latter rose four spots, thanks to a step up in its Prestige score along with high scores in Business Outlook and Leadership. Bank of America, Guggenheim Securities, Perella Weinberg Partners, and Lazard all remained the top 10. The only newcomer was Houlihan Lokey at #10. It replaced last year’s #3 Goldman Sachs, which remained #1 for Prestige but plummeted to #19 overall.

“[Goldman Sachs] opted not to participate in our survey this year,” Derek Loosvelt explains. “I believe it was pandemic-related, 2020 being highly unusual (to say the least) for everyone.”


The same issue befell players like JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Barclays, and Citi, which ranked from 20th to 23rd respectively, buoyed by their high Prestige scores. That said, Guggenheim Securities slipped from 5th to 7th, despite seeing its Prestige score rise by .40 of a point (though its Prestige rank continues to remain lodged below the Top 10). At the same time, Guggenheim Securities ranked among the top 10 in 18 of 20 Quality of Life and Work categories, topping out at #2 in Benefits, Business Outlook, Compensation, and Firm Leadership.

Like Centerview Partners and Moelis & Company, Guggenheim also focuses heavily on “training through mentoring, creating a collegial culture, and offering top-level compensation,” explains Derek Loosvelt in a Q&A with P&Q. He also touts how these three firms provide young bankers with intensive hands-on experience with high-profile advisory assignments. With Guggenheim, he adds, new hires can expect generous pay packages.

“Bonuses are particularly very generous—and gives its junior backers access to senior leaders as well as many opportunities to work alongside clients. Guggenheim’s bankers also uniformly rave about the collaborative “together we win” culture.”


Along with Quality of Life and Work, the Vault Banking 50 survey also measures Diversity in top investment banks. In three of four categories – Overall Diversity, Gender, and Race – the top performer was Loop Capital Markets, a Chicago-based boutique bank, brokerage, and advisory firm that caters to government and institutional clients. Bank of America earned the highest score in the LGBT category, along with ranking #2 in the Gender and Race categories for Overall Diversity. That’s quite a feat for an operation with over 200,000 employees. Still, BofA’s performance here was hardly a surprise to Derek Loosvelt.

Vault Finance Editor Derek Loosvelt

“Historically, BofA has been one of the leaders on Wall Street when it comes to diversity,” he tells P&Q. “You can see this clearly in how they’ve often been the first Wall Street firm to offer various benefits for LGBTQ+ employees. BofA was the first financial services firm to offer comprehensive domestic partner benefits to LGBTQ+ employees and the first to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policies. It was also one of the first financial services companies to cover employees’ medically necessary treatments for the transition process. Today, among the benefits that LGBTQ+ employees at BofA are able to take advantage of include up to 16 weeks of paid parental leave, one-on-one support for the transitioning process, a Transgender Summit that brings together transgender employees with LGBTQ executives, and an LGBT+ Pride Ally Program that offers opportunities for employees to participate in educational and volunteer events.”


In addition, BofA earned points this summer for its quick response in the wake of the George Floyd protests.

“Its focus on diversity was also on display this past summer,” Loosvelt adds. “Along with publicly denouncing racist practices and commending employees’ rights to peacefully protest, the bank took many steps to develop dialogue internally through countless speaker series, and provided substantial financial commitments (well over $1 billion) to minority businesses, communities, neighborhoods, and nonprofits to address racial and income inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic.”


Overall, Vault condensed the ranking to the Vault Banking 25 due to participation issues in several institutions. In addition, Loosvelt notes that the survey added open-ended questions regarding banks’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests surrounding the Black Lives Matter.

“With respect to the pandemic, bankers commented on everything from work-from-home tech support and childcare reimbursements to office safety measures and the tone of senior leadership messaging,” Loosvelt writes in a press release. “With respect to the BLM movement, bankers discussed public messaging from their firms, formal changes in D&I initiatives, monetary pledges their firms have made, open dialogues organized by their firms, and more.”

In an interview with P&Q, Loosvelt expands on these areas, surprised at how well banks responded to both.

“Banking professionals who took our survey were overwhelmingly pleased with the way in which their firms responded to Covid as well as to the anti-racist protests and BLM movement. These were divisive issues, not easy for firms in any industry to navigate, and according to our survey, top banking firms stepped up and responded with a lot of integrity and compassion. And in many cases, especially with regards to the BLM movement, banks took action, making monetary pledges to outside institutions and causes, pledging to focus more on their own D&I, creating open forums to have serious discussions about racism, etc.”

What does Loosvelt see in store for 2022? For one, he expects banks to devote greater attention and resources to wellness programming due to the hours, deadlines, and stress inherent to banking. “This year, we were told that firms are starting to offer a lot of wellness initiatives, including subsidized counseling, yoga classes, mindfulness and meditation training, etc. Next year, I see wellness offerings increasing, and perhaps becoming a significant factor when students are deciding which bank they want to join.”

Loosvelt also anticipates greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion initiatives as well. “We were told by survey takers that their firms are beginning to address this issue—of not being particularly diverse, especially at the senior levels—but still have a long way to go. So, I’d anticipate firms to invest heavily in D&I this year. Increasingly, young professionals want to work for organizations that not only publicly support diversity and inclusion but also actually have diverse staffs, representative of the wider population.”




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