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No bank is good at everything. ⁠Except JPMorgan and Goldman.

Who are the best bankers in the world? How do you measure a piece of string?

Courtesy of market intelligence firm Tricumen, there might be a measuring stick to use. Stacking up bank revenues in the first half of the year and dividing by the number of front-office Full Time Employees (FTE), Tricumen devises the comparative efficiency (or rather, revenue produced) of each bank’s bankers.

Based on Tricumen’s data, Goldman and JPM’s “Capital Markets” people (a wide net encompassing both investment banking and trading) are, by some margin, the best in the industry. On average, they produce 1.5 higher standard deviations more revenue than their peer group – way higher than closest competitors, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo, who are also strong performers but only produced 0.5 standard deviations more revenue, on average.

Morgan Stanley’s runner-up position is not a surprise, but Wells Fargo is. Data from (fellow) market intelligence provider Dealogic doesn’t put the bank on its global top seven for ECM, DCM, or M&A revenue (or even in the top ten for investment banking as a whole).

And yet Wells Fargo has by far the most efficient investment bankers in the industry, producing revenues two standard deviations above the average. That’s pretty big – a number of banks got closest (including Royal Bank of Canada and BofA) but none got up to one standard above the average. 

In sales and trading, Deutsche Bank’s Fixed Income, Currencies, and Commodities (FICC) traders put up a valiant effort but were behind both Goldman and JPM’s. Morgan Stanley put up a similar fight for equities, with the same level of success.

The charts below show relative performance, measured by operating revenue per front office full-time employee. Banks are compared relative to a group average, in standard deviations from that average. The dashed circle indicates the average. Each dash on the lines eminating from the centre indicate half a standard deviation from the average.

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AUTHORZeno Toulon Reporter
  • GS
    GS Global Market
    7 August 2023

    The biggest GS but not only this bank problem is that there is no meritocracy. Having worked in IB for more than 16 years, I've seen tremendous injustices in terms of promotions, pay, and culture, which is now different.HR tends to recruit mix of people, which we can divided into 2 categories:

    - superbly educated and mediocre ones too (mostly with bought MBAs, not even target, expensive ones, as we are seeing many random, non-name candidates).Being superb, CFA , Phd technical is a deep liability because you're expected to stay quiet and just churn out work.

    - Administrators, corp. gliders based on bosses liking than skills. Conversely, the people who are incapable of producing quality work are assigned "softer jobs" such as going to meetings, presenting to higher ups, and eventually managing others. Sooner or later all the "smart" people end up reporting to people who don't understand the business but are good at sucking up to their boss. Those mainly have MBAs, so they aren't experts at all from anything...if you think 1 yrs programme will make you a leader in banking you are irrational, especially without ground knowledge which only qualifications and even masters provides.

    I don't have an axe to grind, and actually think this culture has helped my career. In fact it is a great place to learn and grow if you have luck to deal with 1st category! Provided exit opportunities (if you are not too old - age bias) Hedge Funds etc in my case. The common misconception is it is difficult not being sb protégé. Well, I was recruited by direct HR approach last year (typically for +VP grades)

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