Best Boutique Investment Banks: The Ultimate Guide
Since investment banking is such a hot topic of discussion among finance aspirants, I thought of taking this discussion to a detailed level.
It is important for us to know what various types of investment banks are available out there.
In this article, I am going to tell you about the top and best boutique investment banks around the world.
But, before we get into specific details, let us first understand what exactly these boutique investment banks are.
What Is a Boutique Investment Bank?
Wikipedia defines the boutique investment bank as –
“A boutique investment bank is a non-full service investment bank that specializes in at least one aspect of investment banking, generally corporate finance, although some banks are retail in nature, such as Charles Schwab or Allen & Co. Of those involved in corporate finance, capital raising, mergers and acquisitions and restructuring and reorganizations are their primary activities. Due to their smaller size, capital raising engagements are usually done on a best-efforts basis.”
In simple words, boutique investment banks are small firms that offer services related to a specific industry or niche area.
They are much smaller in size and revenues when compared to the mainstream large investment banking firms.
They offer customized services to their clients and can cater to the very specific needs of the customers.
Boutique investment banks typically work on the sell side of the domain rather than the buy-side.
Most of these firms are start-up companies usually owned by ex-investment bankers with some experience in large investment banks.
These banks are a great place to start your career and getting acquainted with investment banking.
List of Best Boutique Investment Banks
New York, NYC:
- Akin Bay Company
- AGM Partners LLC
- Barman Capital LLC
- Brocair Partners LLC
- Chardan Capital Markets, LLC
- Charles Morgan Securities, Inc.
- Dynamica, Inc.
- DZ Financial Markets LLC
- Fieldstone Private Capital Group, Inc.
- FinanceNYC, LLC
- GLC Advisors & Co., LLC
- Hyde Park Advisors, LLC
- Junewicz & Co. Inc.
- Lighthouse Financial Group
- Lightstone Securities, LLC
- Merchant & Schumacher Associates, LLC
- Mercury Capital Advisors, LLC
- Torreya Partners LLC
- Touchstone Group, LLC
- Walsh Manning Securities Inc.
- Winchester Realty, LLC
- Wynston Hill Capital LLC
- XT Capital Partners, LLC
- San Trust Robinson Humphrey
- Headwaters MB
- Viant Capital
- Pharus Advisors
- Stifel Nicolaus Weisel
- AG Becker & Co.
- Arnstein & Company, LLC
- Blackmore Partners Ltd.
- Blackwater Capital Group, Inc.
- Chicago Investment Group, L.L.C.
- China-America Capital Company, LLC
- Dresner Partners
- DSI Global M&A
- Fort Dearborn Advisors, LLC
- Gardner Rich & Co.
- GTR Partners
- Hamptons International
- Healthstrat Capital Advisors, LLC
- Houlihan Capital, LLC
- Iliad Avenues, LLC
- Performance Trust Capital Partners, LLC
- Plaisance Advisors LLC
- Resource Financial Corporation
- River Branch Capital LLC
- Stout Risius Ross, Inc.
- Sustainable Capital, LLC
- The Alliance for Corporate Wealth LLC
- The Biotech Capital Group
- 3LP Advisors, LLC
- Adventum Group, Inc.
- Aeris Partners
- America’s Growth Capital LLC
- CFBDS Inc.
- Chestnut Securities, Inc.
- Commonwealth Capital Advisors, LLC
- Consensus Advisors LLC
- Consilium Partners LLC
- Copley Browne, Inc.
- Corby Capital Markets, Inc.
- Covington Associates LLC
- Envoy Advisors
- G2 Capital Advisors LLC
- Game Plan LLC
- Gordon Associates, Inc.
- Gryphon Management Company, Inc.
- Northstar Global Partners, LLC
- O’Conor, Wright Wyman, Inc.
- Prevail Capital, LLC
- Progress Partners, LLC
- Provident Corporate Finance, LLC
- Thornton Group LLC
- Trudeau & Trudeau Associates, Inc.
- Versailles Group, Ltd.
- Corporate Finance Associates
- Howard Weil
- Mike Adams Enterprices
- Mills & Stowell
- Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Company, LLC
- Jefferies Quarterdeck
- Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Company
- FBR Capita Markets
- McLean Group
- Newman & Associates
- The PFM Group
- PRC Grpup
- Monticello Capital
- Ambrian Capital
- Arma Partners
- The Blackstone Group
- Boenning & Scattergood
- Brewin Dolphin
- Brown Brothers Hariman
- Climate Change Capital
- DC Advisory Partners
- Evercore Partners
- Evolution Securities
- Execution Nobel
- Glaecher Shacklock
- GCA Saavian
- Harris Williams & Company
- Houlihan Lokey
- Liberium Capital
- Panmure Gordon
- Perella Weinberg Partners
- Piper Jaffray
- Seymour Pierce
- Thomas Weisel Partners
- William Blair & Company
Boutique Investment Banks Internship
As I have always stated in all my articles related to finding jobs and building a career, getting into a firm as an intern is the best way to do it.
Finding an internship in a boutique investment bank and in a bulge bracket investment bank are two different ball games altogether.
Following is the list of most commonly observed differences:
- Deal size – Usually a large investment bank will strike a deal of millions or even billions of dollars at stake. While a boutique bank will hardly ever touch a few million dollars.
- The number of employees – When a bulge bracket investment bank will have offices around the world at multiple locations, a boutique investment bank would often work out of a few locations with a very small staff.
- Responsibilities – As an intern, you will have very few tasks and responsibilities in a large investment bank. While in a boutique investment bank you could have a lot of responsibilities.
There is a flip side to it as well. Sometimes you might also end up doing really basic work in boutique banks, with minimal learning.
But in such cases, you can always demonstrate your potential in the initial days and demand more complex work.
You should adopt the following strategy to apply at a boutique investment bank:
- Create a focused resume – As against a bulge investment bank where the clients are from across industries, boutique investment banks operate in a niche segment.
You can highlight your interest or expertise in that niche area to enhance your chances of getting a shot at the investment banking interview.
- Personal application – Large investment banks would usually accept only online applications, but a boutique investment bank might not even have a section of internship careers on their website.
It does not mean they would not have an opportunity of internship to offer. In this case, a better strategy is to drop by at the office location and submit your resume. Trust me more often than not it works wonders.
- Extensive networking – Large investment banks have umpteen number of employees available on LinkedIn and other social media websites.
But for a boutique investment bank the number of people available there will be far less. In order to network with such people, you have to work a lot harder.
Again personal visits and telephonic conversations have proved to be very fruitful in my experience.
Boutique Investment Banks Salary
The salaries offered at large bulge investment banks are obviously more than small boutique investment banks.
At times the difference can be 50 percent less. But in terms of satisfaction levels, people working in boutique investment banks are better off when compared to the big guns.
The working hours usually do not go beyond 60 to 65 hours a week, and there is hardly anyone who works over the weekends (unless there is a deadline for submission or completion of the task).
Following is a comparison of salaries offered at various levels in bulge investment banks as against boutique investment banks:
Why Prefer Boutique Investment Banks for Career?
Well, this is a million-dollar question. “Why should I choose a smaller firm to begin my career if I can work at a large firm with better compensation?”
There is no right or wrong answer to this particular question. It all depends on the perspective you are looking at and what are your expectations from life and your career.
But in my opinion, the following are a few short terms and long term advantages of choosing a boutique investment bank over a bulge investment bank:
Short term benefits
- Ease of getting a job – Since the global slowdown, getting jobs has become much more difficult and demanding than ever before.
Large companies are fighting for survival and the operating margins are narrowing. Not many big companies are willingly taking up new recruitments so as to curb costs.
Whereas smaller firms are not that much affected by the slowdown. It is partly because their overhead costs are still in control and they can afford to add more staff at reasonable salaries.
- Location preference – Most of the boutique investment banks have 1 or 2 offices. If you have a location preference you can apply to one such firm where your chances of moving around are very less.
People who have recently started a family or people with health obligations usually have a location preference.
For such people, boutique investment banks are an ideal place.
- Steep learning – Since the size of the company is typically small, there more chances of you getting more responsibilities at your position.
At the beginning of your career you will be exposed to situations that are extreme and result in steep learning for you as an investment banker.
You would not feel like a cog in the wheel in a small firm that you otherwise would in a bigger firm.
- Better to be a bigger fish in a small pond than a small fish in the bigger pond – As this famous saying goes, whatever little you contribute to the cause of the company it will be recognized and appreciated.
You will get more visibility in the company and the chances of you getting promoted and getting better work are a lot higher when compared to large investment banks.
Long term benefits
- Expertise – Since you will be operating within a specific domain and a niche, you will gain domain knowledge and expertise.
At a large firm, you will be working on multiple industries and verticals, whereas in a boutique firm you will be engaged in one particular industry.
Your learning of that industry can mould your career and take you places in the long run. In a large firm, you are unlikely to work on the industry for more than 3 to 4 projects.
But in a boutique firm, within a span of 5 years you would have worked on more than 10 projects (assuming one project lasts for about 6 months or so).
- Work culture – In a smaller firm, the work culture is more flexible and gives you an opportunity to adapt yourself to different situations.
If at a later stage you decide to make a shift and join a bigger firm, it would be easier for you to adapt to its work environment when compared to a transition that is the other way round.
- Learning from the masters – You are likely to report to and work directly under the industry experts with a lot of experience.
You can learn a great deal working with these people. In a large firm, the opportunities of interacting and working with higher management are minimal.
- Job security – There is a lot more job security in a smaller firm when compared to a large firm. There were more than 10,000 job cuts in large investment banks in the last 10 years, whereas this number is insignificant in the case of boutique investment banks.
Boutique Investment Banks Trends
Due to the global slowdown and economic crisis of recent times, the influx of boutique investment banks have multiplied in the last few years.
Big shots from the large firms (who are not too secure about their jobs and growth) have branched out by opening their own firms.
By doing this they have been able to snatch a few big clients from the large investment banks.
According to Dealogic, the share of the U.S. M&A market held by those boutique investment banks has increased from 13% in 2008 to 40% in 2018.
This trend is expected to continue in the future as well which will result in setting up more boutique investment banks in the industry.
I hope this article gave you enough clarity on the top and best boutique investment banks, and the advantages of working in these smaller firms.
In case you have any questions, please write a comment below.