12 Feb The Downfall of Bulge-Bracket Investment Banking? Why Bulge-Bracket Bankers are Fleeing to Successful Boutiques
There are no shortage of the terrible tales of working at some bulge-bracket bank. Here are a few:
- A report of investment bankers “crying” as a result of unexpected lay-offs
- Wall Street will corrupt your very soul
- Wall Street will corrode your soul
- Admonishments not to “sell your soul” to investment banking
- The best bankers turn off all emotion and feeling
- My personal favorite is one about how investment bankers just need a hug
It is no wonder that many former investment banking interns and analysts are jumping ship and moving to other hard-driving, but more interesting opportunities like startups. I would expect this cycle to be on repeat as the recent downturn at the start of 2016 is causing reports of more expected layoffs and salary freezes among investment banks.
It is unfortunate that the cyclical nature of the capital markets creates such a boom/bust impact on investment banks. It makes it even more risky to run an investment bank (not even considering the costly regulatory oversight). While some have extremely opined that investment banks do the work of God, there is still a very necessary place for investment banks in the world of corporate finance. I would not take the extreme stance that investment banking is anywhere near becoming an extinct beast. I would also not be so extreme as to call for the complete annihilation of them either.
The middle market investment banks perhaps have the most critical and crucial role of all in that they support the companies that employee the largest swath of people across the American economy. When the larger banks get a cold, the smaller investment banks typically get cancer, but the trickle-down effects are often a bit more slow. Most of the smaller ibanks still have robust pipelines through 2016. Of course that could, and likely will all change, particularly with the economics experiment that is going on with the Fed. More shake-ups will continue to occur and while investment banking is likely to survive another crisis it may, once again, look very different once the dust finally settles.