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  • Writer's pictureOverheard on Wall Street

Bulge Brackets vs Boutique Banks

'Tis the Elite Boutique era?


The key difference between bulge bracket banks is that bulge brackets are able to use their balance sheet to support companies, primarily on the lending side, whereas boutiques typically only provide advisory services.

90% of the time, life at boutiques is worse than life at bulge brackets. One of the reasons for that is you are always trying to sell that you are a better advisor than the bulge bracket guys, who have more capabilities than you do across the board.

Another reason is that bulge-brackets have a lot of back-office staff, from an entire economics department to outsourced teams in India that can do a lot of your job for you. That is rarely the case at boutiques, where you have to do pretty much everything yourself.

That in mind, being at a boutique has advantages, they are typically scrappier and they have leaner deal teams. You may get absolutely destroyed but hey you will probably learn a lot and will likely get better M&A deal experience.

However, at boutiques, you may only be doing one product day in and day out. One of the advantages of the bulge brackets is they offer every product, so you will see financing and advisory deals, not just advisory services. 

For those aspiring to break into private equity, bulge-brackets are usually a better option. Elite boutiques are also catching on and some recent recruitment from some of the logos above has been top-notch.

At some point, we will do a more detailed dive on this topic but hopefully this article gave you an initial glimpse into the dynamics of boutique versus bulge bracket banking.

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