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Top 10 Investment Banking Firms

2013 Prestige Rankings

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Founded in 1996, Vault.com compiles employer and university rankings, ratings and insight. The Vault.com website offers profiles of over 4,500 employers, 4,000 universities and hundreds of industries and professions including law, finance, accounting and consulting.

On September 6, 2012 Vault.com released its 2013 North American Banking Prestige rankings, based on input from approximately 3,500 insiders. Respondents were asked to rate 75 leading investment banking firms, but could not rate their own employers.

1. Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs logo
Goldman Sachs

Survey respondents in North America noted that although Goldman Sachs' "reputation was severely damaged," it was "still the top player," had "one of the best brand names," was "platinum rated in "financial services" and is simply "the best." Banking employees in Europe were just as complimentary, calling Goldman Sachs the "industry leader," "reputable and competitive," the "crème de la crème," "the main competition in investment banking," and "well respected."

According to Derek Loosvelt, Senior Finance Editor at Vault.com, "Goldman is still far and away considered the most prestigious bank on Wall Street. Even amidst controversy and tons of negative press, the firm continues to land the largest, most high profile deals, attracting the brightest and most ambitious job candidates. Although the Goldman name has been tarnished in recent years, and it might not carry the same weight that it did prior to the 2008 financial crisis, no other bank on Wall Street is even close when it comes to worldwide brand recognition. And bankers at Goldman's competitors concede that it's still the most formidable Wall Street franchise."

2. J.P. Morgan Investment Bank

The Vault.com survey was administered in the spring of 2012, before the infamous "London Whale" trading scandal broke that, at latest count, stands to cost the firm about $5.8 billion. This failure of risk management systems has caused JPMorgan Chase to incur a huge hit to its reputation under CEO Jamie Dimon for tight risk control.

3. Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley has been undergoing some retrenchment, with headcount reduction, yet continues to rank high in this survey. Another background issue has been challenges related to the integration of Smith Barney, formerly a division of Citigroup.

4. The Blackstone Group

Founded in 1985, Blackstone offers investment and advisory services from 23 offices worldwide, employing 1,580 professionals. Since 2007 it has been a publicly-traded firm listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

5. Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse's high standing in this poll is despite ongoing headcount reductions in its investment banking division.

6. Deutsche Bank

Headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany, Deutsche Bank has operated in the United States since 1872. While the firm is a global giant both in banking and investment banking, its American operations, based in New York, are almost entirely focused on the latter.

7. Lazard

Tracing its origins to 1848, Lazard offers advisory and investment management services, with offices in 42 cities across 27 countries and 5 continents. Its advisory services encompass mergers and acquisitions, strategy, restructuring and capital structure, capital raising and corporate finance. Its asset management services include corporations, partnerships, institutions, governments, and individuals among its clients.

8. Barclays Capital

Vault.com's survey was conducted in the spring 2012, before the LIBOR scandal broke, in which Barclay's was a major player. The scandal forced the resignations of several top executives.

9. Bank of America

Bank of America had suffered in the past after the merger with Merrill Lynch in 2008. Survey respondents pointed this out, stating that the bank is a "former giant, undergoing some issues since the merger," but added that the "merger has given the bank the market share they previously lacked." Banking employees also noted that Bank of America is "always a solid performer," a "top competitor," and a "bulge bracket rediscovering their way."

"Bank of America seems to be finding its way after a few years of stumbles," says Derek Loosvelt of Vault.com. "It hasn't suffered any major scandals in the past year, and it's been shedding units, focusing on its more successful businesses, including its investment bank."

10. Greenhill & Co.

Greenhill engages in advisory work in mergers, acquisitions, restructurings, financings and capital raisings for corporations, partnerships, institutions and governments. A publicly-traded firm listed on the New York Stock Exchange, its managing directors hold a significant equity stake. Because Greenhill does not offer research, trading or lending, it touts itself as a conflict-free source of advice to its clients.

Founded in 1996, Greenhill has offices in New York, London, Frankfurt, Stockholm, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Melbourne and San Francisco.

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