For the past four years, Vault has been ranking banking firms in terms of their prestige in Europe. This year, in our annual European Banking Survey, conducted from April through June, nearly 400 European banking professionals were asked to assess their peer firms on a scale of 1 to 10 based on prestige—they were unable to rate their own firm, and were asked to rate only firms with which they were familiar. And for the fourth straight year, industry insiders named New York-based Goldman Sachs as the most prestigious banking firm in Europe.
With a score of 8.583, Goldman edged out fellow bulge-bracket New York-headquartered J.P. Morgan, which held on to its second-place ranking with a score of 8.341. Morgan Stanley (7.977) also held on to its ranking, again coming in at No. 3, while The Blackstone Group (7.343) jumped three spots in the rankings to No. 4, and Deutsche Bank (7.268) fell one spot to No. 5.
Aside from Blackstone, other gains were made by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which rose eights spots to No. 7, perhaps underscoring how well the firm has done incorporating Merrill into its European mix; Barclays, which gained three spots to rank No. 8, perhaps signaling that it is indeed picking up market share as it had hoped; and Citigroup, which rose four places to No. 13, underlining its somewhat successful efforts to get back on track after a couple of the worst years in its history.
The largest slide in the rankings came from BNP Paribas, which slipped four spots to No. 14; a few other firms saw their rankings fall by three spots: Rothschild fell to No. 9, HSBC slipped to No. 11, and Société Générale slumped to No. 13.
Still, it was Goldman’s stranglehold on the top spot that stood out. Its competitors’ banking professionals told us that Goldman is the “crown jewel for job seekers,” “ahead of the league as always,” and, although “its reputation took a bit of a hit this past year,” it’s “still a strong name.” In addition, though Goldman's bankers can come off as “arrogant” and even “unpleasant,” they are still considered to be “the smartest in the room.”
Here’s the rest of the top 10, along with select survey quotes from bankers about each respective firm:
2. J.P. Morgan (“Successful during the crisis, which deserves great praise; now a clear tier-one player in nearly all products”)
3. Morgan Stanley (“Still a great brand”)
4. Blackstone (“Only the best and hardest working need apply”)
5. Deutsche Bank (“Very strong investment banking franchise”)
6. Credit Suisse (“Possible the most successful European bank at the moment”)
7. Bank of America Merrill Lynch (“Old-school Merrill with BofA brawn”)
8. Barclays Capital (“Weathered the crisis with reputation intact”)
9. Rothschild (“Excellent M&A franchise”)
10. Lazard (“Top house, great reputation”)
Check out the complete Vault European Banking 25.