Why do you want to work in investment banking?
Don’t say you want the money. You won’t last long. The hours, the pace, the pressure: it’ll eat you up before you can cash your fat bonus and move to private equity. Huddled in secret, you’ll run your numbers and polish your pitchbook dozens of times. And you’ll check your phone every 15 minutes on your free time too. When your deal hits The Wall Street Journal, only a select few will know how you made it happen behind the scenes.
Those are the negatives of investment banking. The positive, of course, is the learning: exposure to a wide range of industries and complex models. Whatever you think of the lifestyle, it forces you to prove your worth every single day. Importance and impact: That’s banking at its heart — access to the best minds in business and the best perks of life.
BANKERS EVALUATE THEIR FIRMS…AND THEIR RIVALS
To enjoy those, you need to choose the best institution to work. Money is always a big consideration. So too are culture, training, work-life balance, career paths, and long-term outlook. When it comes to the best mix of these variables, Centerview Partners again stands above the other investment banks.
For the second consecutive year, Centerview Partners edged out Evercore in the Vault Banking 25. Moelis & Company and Morgan Stanley again held down the #3 and #4 spots, while Lazard jumped to 5th.
The Vault Banking 25, released on January 26th, is a benchmark for excellence in North American investment banking. Started in 2007, the Vault Banking 25 has been based on a survey issued by Vault Career Intelligence. This firm has since emerged as Firsthand, an Infobase company that gathers market intelligence to produce employer ratings, reviews, and employment opportunities in industries like banking, consulting, and law.
The Vault Banking 25 survey, which was conducted last fall, attracted 3,600 responses from banking professionals — a major uptick over the 3,000 respondents who participated last year. In this survey, respondents rate their firms on a 10-point scale, where 10 is the highest possible score. This includes evaluating their employers on 20 measures, ranging from Benefits to Wellness. At the same time, they also score rival firms they are familiar with on Prestige. In addition, respondents assess their firm on four diversity dimensions, including Race, Gender, and LGBTQ+.
Overall, the highest weight is given to Prestige, which accounts for 40% of the ranking weight. Firm Culture makes up another 20%. Compensation, Business Outlook, and Overall Satisfaction each enjoy a 10% share. The remaining 10% is split between Work-Life Balance and Training. These weights have remained the same from the previous year.
CENTERVIEW TOPS FOR COMPENSATION AND CULTURE
What set Centerview Partners apart in 2022? For one, the firm notched the highest scores in Compensation, Culture, Formal Training, and Informal Training — or 40% of the entire survey weight. By the same token, Centerview Partners ranked 5th when it comes to Prestige, a feat made all the more impressive by the firm’s .37 of a point improvement in this area over the past year. It was also the biggest improvement among any of the Top 25 firms.
And Centerview Partners was hardly a slouch in any other measure. For Business Outlook, Work-Life Balance, and Overall Satisfaction — categories that make up the remaining 25% of the weight — Centerview Partners posted the 2nd-highest scores. The firm’s lowest score stemmed from International Opportunities (9th). At the same time, it ranked 2nd for both Gender Diversity and Racial Diversity, with its lowest mark being 4th for LGBTQ+ Diversity. That’s across-the-board excellence — and it’s the reason why Centerview Partners topped all comers.
Along with collecting data, the Vault Banking 25 survey curates qualitative feedback. One area where Centerview Partners shines, according to one anonymous respondent, is work-life balance. “We tend to work on larger, more complicated transactions, and our junior staff gets a lot of interaction with clients,” writes one survey-taker. “This is what we signed up for and makes working long hours worthwhile. But work/life balance is taken seriously, and every effort is made to keep weekends and holidays clear without the need for a formal policy.”
Another area where the firm excels, according to survey-takers, is informal training. Here, says another survey respondent, Centerview Partners places a premium on coaching and mentoring. “Everyone at the firm seems to be hyper-focused on mentorship. Everyone is willing to take extra time out of their days to teach hard skills and provide a meaningful experience to the junior bankers. This also extends to career development and future opportunities.”
And the pay is just an added bonus notes a third respondent. “Centerview is differentiated on comp—it is all-cash, and the payout structure is very fair and motivating.”
NECK-AND-NECK WITH EVERCORE
Evercore again served as the runner-up to Centerview Partners in the 2022 Vault Banking 25. It fell just .14 of a point shy of the top spot despite ranking below Centerview Partners in every category incorporated in the methodology except one: Prestige. In this area, Evercore finished 4th, nearly .10 of a point above Centerview Partners. In addition, Evercore ranked among the top three in a dozen categories, highlighted by the 3rd-highest scores in Formal Training and Hiring Process. The firm also managed to finish among the top three in two of the four Diversity dimensions (and 4th in the other two).
While Centerview Partners is praised for having the ‘top-of-Street compensation”, Evercore competitors described the firm as having “the best talent on the Street.” Internally, Evercore professionals are equally bullish on their leadership and long-term outlook.
“There is a ton of growth on the horizon,” observes one respondent. “We are well poised in a number of sectors with excellent personnel, culture, leadership, and reputation. It will continue to be extremely busy, and although we’ve added so many people, we may not have the staff to handle the workload.”
“Employees have the utmost support of firm leadership,” adds another. “Every deal that the firm advises on has an announcement sent through the firm that the CEOs and founder respond to and congratulate the team on. The firm recognizes where the market is moving, and is well-sized and positioned to advise clients in effective ways.”