The investment banks with the best vacation policies

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For most prospective investment bankers, paid time off (PTO) isn’t likely a key factor in deciding between firms. But once the job starts and the long hours begin adding up, a bank’s vacation policy can take on a new level of importance. So which investment bank is most generous with its employees over PTO? That would be Chicago-based William Blair, according to a new study from Vault.

A mid-market investment bank with around 1,500 employees globally, William Blair is rather unique because it is independent and employee-owned, providing plenty of motivation for a good vacation policy. The firm has a rating of 9.5 out of 10 for its policy, a full point better than second-ranked Bank of America.

“Vacation policy is the best on the street,” said one junior M&A banker. The rationale isn’t because William Blair gives employees months off at a time or anything like that. Rather, the bank has a mandatory three-week vacation policy for new hires. And the firm apparently takes the word mandatory literally. One reviewer said that senior managers can see their compensation reduced if their direct reports don’t take the full three weeks.

Founded in the Midwest, most employees say they enjoy the “family” culture, though many working in the investment banking division acknowledge that the hours are still plenty long. William Blair also scored well in several other quality of life categories, including culture and work-life balance. Plus, they offer free snacks, apparently.

Some of the common critical comments posted on Vault and Glassdoor include a lack of upward mobility, likely due to the employee-owned partnership structure that entices management to stick around. Several reviewers on Glassdoor referred to the firm as an “old boys club,” and knocked the bank for its lack of diversity. However, William Blair has seen its diversity rankings on Vault improve each year over the last three. It currently ranks as the fourth-best investment bank for overall diversity.

The rest of the banks that fill out the top 10 are all boutiques, with the exception of Bank of America. BAML offers 16 paid weeks of maternity and paternity leave – plus an additional 10 unpaid weeks if needed. Employees can also purchase additional time off beyond their normal days of allotted vacation. William Blair didn’t immediately get back to us with more specifics of their vacation policy. We will update if they do. The full top-10 is below.

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