Bulge Bracket Investment Banks

A list of the largest full-service global banks

List of bulge bracket investment banks

The bulge bracket investment banks are (in alphabetical order):

  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • Barclays Capital
  • Citigroup
  • Credit Suisse
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Goldman Sachs
  • J.P. Morgan
  • Morgan Stanley
  • UBS

Bulge Bracket - Bank Logos


What are bulge bracket investment banks?

The “bulge bracket” consists of the world’s largest global investment banks who serve clients that consist of governments, large corporations, and institutions. They provide both advisory and underwriting services, as well as equity research, sales & trading and asset management. Bulge bracket 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.


Why are they called bulge bracket (BB)?

The name originates from the order of banks listed on the “tombstone” or prospectus of a deal. The banks, who are at the top of the “tombstone”, are placed in sequential order based on the role they play in the deal, from most important (lead, book runner, etc) 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, there are also such firms known as boutique investment banks.

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

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


Working at a bulge bracket bank

Bulge bracket investment banks are the powerhouses of the financial industry. The investment bankers that push these banks forward work tirelessly, often day and night, to secure whatever it is that their clients ask for. As such, expect to work long hours if choosing to go down this career path. In contrast to boutique investment banks, which have more reasonable work hours, the bulge bracket investment banker will be more overworked yet more highly rewarded.

With the nature and pace of the industry, the stability of a job in a bulge bracket bank may also be less than that in a boutique. Workplace evaluations are definitely more competitive, and there is a survival-of-the-fittest mindset within the workplace.

However, when it comes to prestige, bulge bracket investment banks reign king. Employment as an investment banker under one of these banks are often the most sought after jobs, and having this under one’s resume is certainly a positive impact on one’s long-term career prospects.


How to get into the industry

While there are many investment bank, the list of applicants is extremely long. One of the best ways to break into the industry is to do a lot of networking, through events like NIBC (an international investment banking competition and conference).

For more tips on getting into the industry, check out our guide on how to get job in IBD.


Other categories of investment banks

We have published lists of:


Additional resources