Best Investment Banks To Work For In 2023

Top feeder schools for investment Banking.


One reason for Moelis’ high satisfaction rate is quality of life. In a 2022 survey, a Moelis staffer noted that the firm mandates protected weekends and vacation time, along with the ability to work-from-home sometimes. That’s coincides with an enviable compensation package that is expanding rather than contracting.

“One new benefit added this year is family-building assistance, which is an important addition for anyone who needs fertility treatments or is building a family via adoption/surrogacy,” writes one survey-taker.

Another strength is how the firm’s growing its talent. That translates year-round classroom training, not to mention exposure to a variety of teams and deals. “Moelis is the only independent investment bank structured to develop talent internally and promote partners from within,” adds another staffer in a Firsthand review “We have promoted approximately 50 percent of our partners from the junior ranks at Moelis.”

Like Evercore, Moelis doesn’t sweat the highs-and-lows. Instead, as one respondent observes, the firm measures business cycles in years. “Sometimes it’s easy to forget how insulated Moelis is relative to the bulge brackets,” adds another employee. “I’m glad that the firm takes a long-term view toward talent and growth, because when financing markets clam up or deals slow down, I don’t worry about losing my job.”


Today, investment banking is threatened by something more insidious than evolving regulations, technologies, and models. Instead, it is something more common: burnout. Fatigue produces mistakes and dissatisfaction fuels turnover. In response, banks have been installing programs that provide greater freedom and consistency. They include enforcing protected weekends and and rolling out mental health and wellness tools such as flexible arrangements. These efforts have made a ripple. According to Firsthand survey results, Vacation Policy scores have risen by 8 points in the past year, with satisfaction rates for Compensation and Work Hours inching up by 6.0 and 4.5 percent respectively. These improvements have been the biggest takeaway in the 2023 Vault Banking 25 survey says Derek Loosvelt, editorial director at Firsthand.

“Almost across the board, in all categories in our survey, satisfaction was up versus last year,” Loosvelt told P&Q in an exclusive interview. “In fact, the only category that we saw a decrease in this year was Business Outlook, which was no surprise given the macroeconomic outlook last fall when we administered our survey. In addition to the rises in scores in vacation policies, work hours, comp, benefits, wellness, and work/life balance, scores rose in training, quality of work, client interaction, and diversity. So, it seems clear that, in general, the top banking firms are improving initiatives in many areas, addressing what young professionals want (out of any role, not just a finance one): a good culture, better work/life balance, meaningful and challenging work, more diversity, more mentoring, early responsibility, and fair compensation (to match the intensity, stress, and workloads of their jobs).”

Overall, the Vault Banking 25 ranking remained relatively consistent. Morgan Stanley and Lazard again held the 4th and 5th spots respectively. Guggenheim Securities slipped from 7th to 8th, while Bank of America tumbled out of the Top 10 entirely after declining to participate in 2022. That left the window open for William Blair, which debuted at #9 after previously not being involved in the Vault Banking 25. Otherwise, Qatalyst Partners and Jefferies & Company returned to the ranking in 2023. They replaced Stifel, Nomura, and Credit Suisse in the Top 25. DC Advisory gained the most traction, rising from 20th to 17th. In contrast, Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. lost two spots to 19th. 14 of the 22 banks ranked in last year’s Vault Banking 25 posted lower scores, led by Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. (-.350) and Greenhill & Company (-.232). While Centerview Partners improved by .246 of a point, it was eclipsed by DC Advisory, whose score rose by .360. It ranked among the ten-bast in 6 categories (led by the 2nd-highest score in International Opportunities).

Goldman Sachs was the most popular bank for men and women, but failed to make the top ten most popular companies on the overall list. Courtesy photo


True to form, Prestige commands the most importance in the Vault Banking 50. Here, Goldman Sachs is the gold standard. Like previous years, Goldman Sachs ranked as the top bank for Prestige with an 8.984 average. To put that number in context, it was .574 and .762 of a point higher than runners-up Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan. Goldman Sachs’ Prestige score also overshadowed Evercore (8.118) and Centerview Partners (8.113), the top performers in the overall ranking.

The Prestige average does represent a flaw in the Vault Banking 25. After all, the 40% weight enabled 8 banks that didn’t participate in the employee survey to be included in the ranking: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Bank of America, Qatalyst Partners, Citi, Jefferies & Company, and Barclays. It also measures a perception of excellence – rather than an on-the-ground evaluation of employer performance. Still, Firsthand has collected many qualitative reviews from employees of these firms. Take Goldman Sachs. According to a couple of employees, the firm is pushing employees to cut hours and take time off to curb burnout. Problem is, the workload makes it an issue of “manpower” not willpower.

“There are active efforts to promote work/life balance. There is no shaming in taking vacation days. The firm, however, runs very lean, so there’s very little downtime at work and always a sense of urgency to finish and move on to the next pressing task.”


Strangely, the same firms comprise the most Prestigious list top-to-bottom – just in a slightly different order. The Top 13 remained the same, except for Qatalyst climbing three spots to replace Barclays. As a whole, 13 of the 25 banks averaged lower Prestige scores against the previous year. This includes Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JP Morgan, whose averages dropped from .082 to .175 of a point. Credit Suisse plummeted by 1.239 points, followed by UBS Investment Banking at -.433. That said, several firms gained reputational capital in the past year. They include Lion Tree Advisors (+.482), Allen & Company (+.354), Centerview Partners (+.347), and Evercore (+.254).

Derek Loosvelt has a theory on why some larger banks dipped in their Prestige scores. “I think the largest banks had the toughest years,” Loosvelt asserts. “They made the deepest headcount cuts, and they were in the news as the “face” of the down year on Wall Street. So, that likely had much to do with some of the bulge bracket banks slipping in prestige. As for Credit Suisse, though, that’s a unique case, as they recently announced they were exiting certain lines of business in the U.S. (they might even spin off their investment bank and bring back the CS First Boston brand). This was huge, headline news. So, the perception must’ve been that, at least here in the U.S., the firm isn’t as prestigious as it once was. But that could certainly change after the firm reorganizes (if the reorg goes well).”

Although the Vault Banking 25 doesn’t include Diversity measures in its ranking, the data proves insightful. In this space, Loop Capital Markets bests all comers in all four dimensions, though Centerview Partners cracks the Top 3 in each one. A 25 year-old-firm located in Chicago, Loop Capital Markets notes that it averages $750 million dollars a day in average trading volume across 80 countries. While the firm is regaled for its diverse leadership and teams, it also ranks among the best in several dimensions, including Hours (2nd), ESG Practices (4th), Vacation Policies (4th), and Work-Life Balance (6th).

“We are led by true leaders, not executives who hide in offices and send down uninformed initiatives,” observes one employee in a recent Firsthand review. “We have people who are not afraid to enter the trenches to push the firm forward and who listen to rank-and-file employees’ inputs to develop business plans.”

BOA Global Banking and Markets employees in New York City


Last year, banking focused on helping employees find a balance, so they could maximize their employees’ talents and stave off burnout and turnover. This issue has gained prominence as banking increasingly competes against consulting, tech, and entrepreneurship for talent. Question is, is money the only reason to enter banking?

For Derek Loosvelt, banking offers an array of benefits for young professionals, particularly with gaining experience early in areas that can pay huge dividends down the line in any industry.

“In recent years, many banks have pivoted from merely providing excellent entry-level programs (for young professionals to use to go on to other roles in private equity, hedge funds, tech, etc.) and now also focus on providing long-term career paths for new grads. That widens banks’ recruiting reach and makes banks more attractive to young professionals who want to build careers at a single firm, rather than use their first jobs (out of college or business school) as stepping stones. Add to that the ability to work alongside and learn from incredibly bright and talented senior professionals so early in their career, as well as work with some of the most high-profile companies (clients) in the world, and it’s easy to see why investment banking is still a very attractive career path.”

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