What's So Great About the Bulge Brackets?
It's important for those looking for work at an investment bank to evaluate why they are pursuing this profession and, more importantly, what they want out of it. It is most likely that one can to secure a diverse toolbox of financial skills at any size IB. However, if it is exposure that you are hungry for, I suggest taking a closer look into mid-size banks. At bulge-brackets you will most likely have associates presenting the gist of your research and analysis to clients. At many of the smaller banks you have the opportunity to personally interact directly with company CEOs and CFOs.
Bulge-bracket banks will offer you unlimited resources and unlimited hours. They will most likely catalyze your acceptance into your choice of MBA programs, assuming you have worthwhile undergraduate grades and test scores. However, there are plenty of middle-sized banks that can offer you similar opportunities. Bulge-brackets boast many high profile clients. The M&A activity will probably be followed by the Wall Street Journal and covered on CNBC, but you will probably never see these clients. A founding member of one of the top-ranking medium sized investment banks recently told me that often the problem at bulge-brackets is that analysts get so caught up in the trees, they miss the forest. This could be a great reason for choosing a smaller bank.
The reputation of the largest Wall Street firms is by no means unwarranted. It is a direct result of their access to the most backing and the most expertise, which translates into the biggest deals with the most coverage. However, looking beyond the notoriety into the day-to-day grind, one might consider whether or not he or she is being asked to sacrifice too much individuality and happiness in order to drive the bigger machine. That was the question that I was forced to face and that is why my experience has led me to choose a smaller investment bank. There is not a doubt in my mind that, for me, it was the right choice. You will have to make your own decision.