Fair or not, every investment bank seems to have at least one particular stigma attached to it – whether it be issues surrounding culture, management or a lack of free fresh fruit. At boutique Moelis & Co., the sticking point is most often work hours. As we noted earlier, the average Moelis banker claims to work roughly 83 hours a week, one of the highest totals of any well-known investment bank, according to Wall Street Oasis. However, it’s worth noting that the weekly average fell from 89 hours in 2015, when Moelis was said to be addressing its reputation around work-life balance. It seems that it has, though average work hours are apparently still well above industry norms.
Yet despite the late nights, Moelis currently ranks third among 157 investment banks in terms of overall employee satisfaction, behind only Evercore and Goldman Sachs. Why all the love? The most obvious reason is that the Moelis compensates employees quite well for all their efforts. The bank ranks second in satisfaction over pay. But that’s somewhat to be expected when you dive deeper into the rankings. Eight of the top 16 best-paying investment banks are boutiques, according to the survey.
The more impactful reason for Moelis' popularity may be its habit of promoting from within. Moelis currently ranks second in terms of career advancement opportunities (it held the top spot for all of 2018). Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos late last month, founder Ken Moelis highlighted the same benefit as one of the top selling points. He told Bloomberg that 35% of the firm’s managing directors were promoted internally – a big number for an 11-year-old firm of its size. Boutiques tend to fill many of their MD slots with established rainmakers that they’ve poached from larger investment banks. Mr. Moelis suggested that his firm thinks differently. “The best place to get a great banker is to look down your ranks and hire your young people and promote them,” he said.
Judging by the survey, the comments appear to be more than just lip service. If you want to make MD at a boutique, Moelis may be the best firm to target. Just know that you’ll need to work plenty hard to be among the 35%.