Investment Banks- Part 4 | Middle Market Banks

A simple definition of a middle market bank is an investment bank that lies between a bulge bracket and a boutique bank. They offer more services than just Mergers and Acquisitions and Restructuring, like Equity Capital Market and Debt Capital Market,  but their deal sizes are worth less than that of a bulge bracket one (normally from $50 million to $500 million).

Some more distinguishable features, please!

  • Middle market banks have a firm reputation in their home countries with offices spanning across multiple regions, but their international reputation is nothing compared to bulge bracket banks.
  • The service range is wider than boutique banks, but the diversity and strength are not as good as bulge bracket banks either.
  • Sales and Trading and Equity Research are their most significant services besides investment banking product groups.
  • Exit opportunities, although brighter than boutique banks, are still somewhat limited with entry into small or mid-size private equity and hedge fund firms. Corporate finance, however, is a good fit for this category.

You can find three types of businesses in the market, large-sized, middle-sized, and small-sized. These sizes depend on the revenue of the business, and the number of employees that it holds. For example, companies that have their annual revenues in the range $10 million – $500 million and have 100-2000 employees, fall under the mid-sized businesses. And they are the ones we will be talking about here. The owners of these businesses need funds now and then to keep their company running. For that, they take help from specific banks. The banks that are concerned with debt raising or equity capitals of these companies are known as Middle Market Investment Banks.

You must be thinking about why these markets have specific banks? The reason is simple. Just like these businesses, banks also work on different financial levels. For example, a small bank cannot provide debts to a large-sized company as they need money in millions and billions.

If you have a mid-sized business and you need help, then we have brought here the list of top middle-market investment banks that you can seek advice from.



Besides advising on deals in this approximate size range, MM banks also have these characteristics:

  • Geography: They tend to have a solid presence in their home countries, with multiple offices in different regions, but they often have far less of an international presence than the bulge brackets.
  • Services Provided: These firms operate in ECMDCMM&A, and sometimes restructuring, and they have other divisions such as S&T and ER. But in practice, they may be less diversified than they appear at first glance; for example, some MM banks focus on deals in 1-2 of these areas and don’t do much elsewhere.
  • Exit Opportunities: It’s extremely difficult to win offers at mega-fund and upper-middle-market private equity firms coming from here. It is more plausible to win offers at smaller PE firms and hedge funds or to move to corporate developmentcorporate finance, or a larger bank.

Reasons to work in a Middle Market Bank

  • The culture and lifestyle at some of these firms are more relaxed than what you’ll find at the BB banks;
  • You might get more responsibility and client interaction on deals;
  • You’ll arguably learn more about the deal process and rationale – which can be very helpful in private equity recruiting – than you would at the large banks.

Middle market banks are also a solid option for career bankers who have worked at larger firms, developed a client list, and now want better hours and more of a life outside of work.

And if you got started late as an undergrad or recent grad, you’re a career changer, or you otherwise have some big obstacle to breaking in, MM banks offer a solid entry point.



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Investment Banks- Part 3 | Boutique banks

Definition: A boutique investment bank can be broadly defined as a firm that DOES NOT offer FULL-SERVICE investment banking, but AT LEAST ONE investment banking financial service. Being an employee at boutique investment banks means you will mostly work on Mergers & Acquisitions or Restructuring instead of Equity Capital Market and Debt Capital Market.

To get a better sense of where boutique investment banks are in the banking industry, we first need to know the number of types of investment banks. As a matter of fact, every classification consists of more or less subjectivity. This one is no exception.

People can have as many types of investment banks as they want, but at the end of the day, a bank is either:

  • bulge bracket investment bank, or
  • boutique investment bank; but if it doesn’t fit both, then it’s
  • middle market investment bank


1. Bulge Bracket: The top of the financial world. If you want to know more, read this

2. Boutique Investment Banks: the Rising Stars

In the aftermath of the Great Financial Crisis in 2008, rising unemployment and dwindling faith in banking giants inclined numerous high-profile senior bankers in bulge bracket firms to leave and establish their own boutique banks. At the same time, the outsourcing of all non-core aspects thanks to technological advancements makes it easier for one or few individuals to run a boutique bank.

  • provide fewer services, but they are more specialized and industry-focused
  • are small in size, but some of their deals are huge cash
  • are not international, but they are regionally recognized

They are going aggressively for a GREATER share of the M&A Advising market! Yet, in general, if deals of bulge bracket banks are usually worth $500 million or above, the majority of boutique banks often handle deals worth $50 million, with a few worth up to $500 million.

3. Middle Market Investment Banks: (post coming soon)


Types of Boutique Investment Banks

Since any bank that offers at least one type of financial service can be classified as a “boutique”, there are thousands of boutiques out there. Thus, three major categories of boutiques that everyone should know to enter the banking industry are:

  • Elite Boutique Investment Banks (EBs)-

  • Industry-specific Boutique Investment Banks (ISBs)
  • Regional Boutique Investment Banks (RBs)- List

Many founders of these elite boutiques are senior bankers from bulge banks, so they can leverage their expansive network and great expertise to focus on the areas of their strengths.

  1. EBs are called “elite” because their deals are AS BIG AS the bulge bracket banks. (over $1 billion to up to the tens of billions of USD).
  2. While bulge bracket banks have thousands of employees, the employee pool of elite banks is much smaller.
  3. Despite having operations in multiple regions, they are usually stronger in some regions than the others.
  4. Similarly, they might provide a full range of services but are strong in only one or few services.


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Investment Banks- Part 2 | Bulge Bracket




The “bulge bracket” consists of the world’s largest global investment banks, premier banking institutions that serve clients that consist of governments, large corporations, and institutions. They provide both advisory and underwriting services, as well as equity researchsales & trading services, and asset management. Bulge bracket investment banks are often primary dealers of US Treasuries and are known to design some of the most innovative, ground-breaking financial products through continuous research.

They tend to work on the largest deals, usually those above $1 billion USD in size, though they sometimes go lower than that depending on the market. Over time, a split has developed in this group, with the “Top 3” (GS, MS, and JPM) performing better than the rest. The European banks have also moved away from investment banking and toward wealth management and other businesses, which has hurt their prospects.

Why are they called bulge bracket (BB)?

The term “bulge bracket” originates from the order of banks listed on the “tombstone” or prospectus of a deal. The banks are listed in sequential order based on the role they play in the deal, from most important to least important. The font size of the banks at the top are larger and bolder – they “bulge” out.



What’s the opposite of bulge bracket?

In contrast to bulge bracket banks that are full-service investment banks, there are also middle-market (or “mid-market”) investment banks, and then significantly smaller firms known as boutique investment banks. A boutique bank is not really the “opposite” of a bulge bracket bank, but it does tend to operate at the opposite end of the investment banking spectrum.

Boutiques are smaller in size and often only operate in a specific region or country, as opposed to the global scope of the largest investment banks. Also, boutique banks only offer a few investment banking services, as opposed to the full range of services that are provided by bulge brackets.

The deal size differential between bulge bracket investment banks and boutique investment banks makes for a large gap. The gap can be anywhere from only working on deals below $100 million or only working on ones above $1 billion.

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Investment Banks



Iniciamos con esta entrada un ciclo de artículos relacionados con la Banca de Inversión. En este primero, mostraremos una breve descripción de los diferentes tipos de bancos que existen, clasificados en función del volumen de operaciones que llevan a cabo y el tamaño de las mismas. A continuación te presentaremos un listado de bancos como ejemplo de cada categoría.

En sucesivos artículos iremos ahondando en cada una de las opciones, centrándonos en las diferencias entre ellos, las posibilidades de desarrollar una carrera, qué requisitos hay para entrar y otros datos interesantes.

A grandes rasgos, podemos clasificar los diferentes tipos de bancos de la siguiente manera:

Grandes Bancos (Bulge Brackets)

Además de fuertes actividades comerciales y/o de trading, también ofrecen servicios de banca de inversión de importancia dispar. Así, encontramos tanto los bancos más potentes en este ámbito, los llamados Bulge Bracket junto con otros que realizan operaciones de menor volumen. También se pueden incluir a una escala menor algunas boutique llamadas de élite que equivalen a bancos de tamaño mediano.

Elite Boutiques

A diferencia de las anteriores, se centran casi exclusivamente en actividades de asesoramiento corporate finance. Es decir, no tienen balance para financiar operaciones, lo que elude conflictos de intereses. Tampoco hacen trading.
A raíz de los problemas originados por la crisis financiera en los bancos de inversión tradicionales, en los últimos años han ganado bastante más importancia que la que ya tenían. De hecho, a algunas de la lista se las considera más prestigiosas que algunos Bulge Bracket en Estados Unidos, y compiten por los mismos ‘deals‘ u operaciones.

Boutiques Globales

A diferencia de las anteriores, se centran casi exclusivamente en actividades de asesoramiento corporate finance. Es decir, no tienen balance para financiar operaciones, lo que elude conflictos de intereses. Tampoco hacen trading. Ciertamente, están en otra liga que las Elite Boutiques, pues suelen hacer operaciones más pequeñas que los Bulge Bracket, y algunas de ellas se especializan en ciertos sectores.

Boutiques Regionales

En este caso, solo las españolas. La diferencia con las anteriores son su tamaño y foco, pues se suelen centrar únicamente en nuestro país.

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