Investment banks have lost some of their lustre with MBAs. Shrinking salaries, intense workloads and scandals have dented their appeal. There has been a 40% fall in the popularity of investment banking as a career at top business schools, according to data from the Financial Times. But they still offer rewarding careers that pay well and provide opportunities for fantastic training, exposure and travel.
Each year, careers website Vault ranks the 50 best banks to work for. Vault bases its ranking on a survey of nearly 3,500 bankers who rated firms in terms of prestige, quality of life, compensation, hours worked, culture, training, and other things.
The Blackstone Group is rated number one, up from second place last year. The rise of Blackstone, a mergers and acquisitions specialist with 2,250 employees, underscores the fact that smaller boutique banks and independent advisory firms are now on par with the bulge brackets, which were once the kings of Wall Street. Blackstone is joined by other boutique firms, such as Houlihan Lokey, Evercore Partners and Centerview Partners, in Vault’s top-10.
Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase are rated as the second and third best investment banks to work for, according to Vault.
The rankings come as investment banks are displaced by tech companies such as Amazon and Google as MBA’s top employers. MBAs say they dislike the insecurity and long hours associated with banks, and prefer the more entrepreneurial and secure jobs on offer at tech companies.
The fall in popularity of investment banking as a career has been most steep at Harvard Business School and London Business School, where there has been more than a 50% drop, according to the FT.
Keima Ueno, a Harvard MBA who has worked on Wall Street, said that the work-life balance was the biggest turn-off. “Although investment banks are eager to improve the negative image of their work-life balance, HBS students still view the industry as the worst environment in which to work,” he said.
“It’s physically exhausting,” he added. “Young analysts work around the clock, sleeping only a few hours a week when they are handling multiple cross-border deals.”
However, he added that some MBAs are attracted by the high salaries on offer. At HBS, investment bankers make $170,000 in salary and bonuses on average in their first year.
If that floats your boat, here are the 15 best investment banks to work for: