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by Derek Loosvelt | September 23, 2011


In Vault's 2011 Banking Survey, in addition to prestige, banking professionals were asked to rank their own firms in several quality of life categories, including firm culture, compensation, hours, training, overall job satisfaction, and business outlook. And dominating this year’s Quality of Life Rankings was Houlihan Lokey, which ranked No. 1 in 7 out of the 11 categories.

houlihan lokeyHoulihan Lokey, which also dominated the rankings last year, places a huge emphasis on creating a collegial, supportive environment. Hours are reasonable by banking standards, compensation is generous, and employees are routinely given as much as responsibility as they can handle. Houlihan also promotes frequent interaction between its junior and senior staff, and it’s not uncommon for junior bankers to sit in on a meeting with one of the firm’s co-CEOs. Given that Houlihan has been growing revenue and headcount—it recently opened new offices in Europe and Asia—insiders nearly unanimously agree that it’s an exciting time to be working at the firm.

Below are all of the top ranked firms in each respective quality of life category (along with a quote from one of the firm’s professionals):

Overall satisfaction: Houlihan Lokey (“Senior management genuinely cares about not wasting your time. And Houlihan has a strong culture of internal promotion from analyst to associate. Compensation also compares favorably with the rest of the Street.”) 

Firm culture: Houlihan Lokey (“It's an organization where you're expected to grow, learn, and contribute to the best of your abilities. However, you’re also given the tools, support, and time to develop. Mentoring, informally and formally, is s staple of the firm's culture. People at Houlihan are extremely competitive, but this drive is directed outside the firm rather than within it.”)

Hours: Houlihan Lokey (“Long hours come with the territory of investment banking—they’re unavoidable, especially at the analyst level—but the firm is very good at letting you manage your own time around outside activities.”) 

Manager Relations: Houlihan Lokey (“Managers at Houlihan understand the value that the junior staff brings to a situation and make a habit of publicly recognizing contributions by each team member. I have often been given credit for ideas on conference calls with various parties.”)

Formal Training: J.P. Morgan Investment Bank (“Our formal training program is rigorous. Each year, some of our top-performing analysts and associates take two months away from the office to act as tutors at analyst training.)

Informal Training: Houlihan Lokey (“The firm places a strong emphasis on on-the-job training. The best way to learn is by working first-hand on a live deal.”) 

Office Space: Perella Weinberg Partners (“The offices are all made out of glass, promoting transparency; it’s pretty cool that you can see what even Joe Perella and Peter Weinberg are doing at all times. Nice art hangs throughout the New York office, which is located on 59th Street and Fifth Avenue, giving you many options for dinner and putting you close to Central Park. Though a small firm, Perella has a free gym solely for its employees.”)

Compensation: Centerview Partners (“Centerview pays extremely well—on the same level or more than any of the bulge brackets. The hours are long, but the pay is the best on the Street.”)

Selectivity: Greenhill & Co. (“Highly technical interviews, but also a huge focus on fit. We expect you to know your finance and accounting, but if you don't get along with the people at the firm, you won't get a job no matter how smart you are.”)

Green initiatives: Houlihan Lokey (“We continue to try to positively affect our world in our work. No bottled water, mandatory recycling, carpooling, recycled paper usage, etc. If people come up with good ideas, we try to embrace them.”)

Overall business outlook: Houlihan Lokey (“We’re coming off a record year with our reputation unsullied, our financial position stronger than ever, morale very high, and having completed our most aggressive hiring program ever.”)

Check out the complete 2012 Quality of Life Rankings.

[Related: A Day in the Life of an Investment Banking Summer Analyst at Houlihan Lokey, A Day in the Life of a Senior Managing Director at Houlihan Lokey]


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