50 Most Prestigious Investment Banks

Published: Sep 21, 2011

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This year, in our annual Banking Survey, conducted from April through June, over 2,400 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 12th straight year, industry insiders named Goldman Sachs the most prestigious bank in North America.

goldmam sachs HQSurvey respondents called Goldman Sachs the “best franchise in the marketplace,” “the gold standard,” “still crème de la crème,” and “the premier investment bank.” And the firm’s insiders told us that despite recent financial regulation and the ongoing negative press, Goldman’s clients remain committed to the firm. Though it might not be what it used to be, Goldman is still the top name in investment banking.

The rest of the top 10 also remained virtually unchanged from last year’s rankings, with slight moves at the very top: Morgan Stanley jumped one spot to No. 2; Blackstone slipped one spot to No. 3; J.P. Morgan fell one place to No. 4; and Lazard rose one place to No. 5.

The biggest moves occurred deeper into the rankings. Underlining its return to the top of echelons of the investment banking league tables, Citi Institutional Clients, which has come back “from the depths of potential bankruptcy” to become a “good place to work,” rose four spots to No. 18. Nomura, already “strong in Europe” and “a growing firm in North America leaped four spots to No. 27. And Centerview Partners, an “up-and-coming” boutique that’s been landing ”sexy deals” such as Google’s announced acquisition of Motorola Mobility, rose five spots to No. 29.

For the rest of the top 50, check out the complete 2012 Vault Banking Prestige Rankings.

And check back tomorrow for our new cross-industry prestige rankings, where respondents to our Banking Survey ranked the prestige of investment banks against that of the top firms in private equity, asset management, and the hedge fund industry.