Vault Top 10: Do Large Banks Still Have Appeal to a Younger Workforce?

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A little less than 15 years ago, at the beginning of my senior year of college, I began the job search process. In hindsight, I realize just how fortunate my timing was given that my career quest landed right in the middle of the Internet bubble when the finance and banking industries were performing exceedingly well.

As a business major, I found numerous job listings just through my university's on-campus interview process, and before Thanksgiving of my senior year, I had secured five job offers.

I ended up selecting a position with a large investment bank because at the time, a large bank analyst role was a coveted job opportunity, and I can say it was the best move for my budding finance career.

As I reflect back on my days in the bank, I realize the advantage of beginning my career within that firm. Two significant benefits of working for a large bank are the number of resources available and the amount of training the bank provides you.

I enjoyed classes and on-the-job training at my employer. Numerous smart and talented employees who had varied backgrounds and work experience surrounded me. I learned more my first year on the job in that bank than I had in four years of college, and the greatest thing was that I was paid for earning that education.

Vault.com just released the Vault Banking 50, which is a ranking of the best investment banks to work for as voted on by their banking peers, and it amazes me to think about how much this list has changed over the last decade.

Instead of a list filled with large investment banks, now, some of the top employers include The Blackstone Group, Centerview Partners, Houlihan Lokey, and Greenhill & Co.

Yes, there are still some large investment banks on this list like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley; however, there are more boutique banks present in the top 10 than I would have imagined.

According to the voting criteria, these top companies are perceived to have strong employee morale, tremendous benefits, and offer excellent quality of life for their employees. It would seem from this top list, that the large investment banks are faltering in employee morale and quality of life, and I think this is a shame.

I know the credit crisis, followed by a series of bank fails and new bank regulations, have made a job in a large bank less appealing than it would have been 10 years ago; however, I still believe they are excellent training grounds for young associates.

Large banks spend a great deal of resources on educating and training their employees. This is an employee benefit that should not be easily dismissed.

In addition to the training materials, larger firms contain more collective human capital within their walls, which means a more diverse and varied collection of potential mentors for younger associates.

I may joke about the amount of out-of-touch white-haired men on a large trading floor, but even the most out-of-touch had interesting stories and offered me learning opportunities.

I have worked for large firms and smaller firms and I understand the benefits of both. However, as a new associate starting out your career in finance, I would think you would want to expose yourself to as much information and experience as possible and this is something you can only access within the walls of a large investment bank.

Large banks have done an excellent job of recovering from the financial crisis and creating a solid financial base for their investors. Now it's time for them to focus on their employees again.

I hope the large banks learn a lesson from Vault.com. With a stronger focus on employee morale instead of just the bottom line, I imagine this list would change dramatically for larger banks, and I hope it does so they have the ability to secure the best and brightest of each graduating class and regain the appeal they once had with the younger workforce.


The 10 Best Investment Banks to Work For Based on Vault's Annual Banking Survey are:

1. The Blackstone Group
2. Goldman Sachs
3. Morgan Stanley
4. J.P. Morgan Investment Bank
5. Centerview Partners
6. Evercore Partners
7. Houlihan Lokey
8. Greenhill & Co.
9. Perella Weinberg Partners
10. Credit Suisse

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