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Top Middle Market Investment Banks in 2023

Top Middle Market Investment Banks in 2023

Are you looking for the top middle market investment banks in the industry? If so, you’re in the right place. In this blog, we will list the most popular MM banks that offer their services to smaller firms. 

Note: This is not a ranking list of any sort. All of these banks are listed here due to their popularity and each one of them excels in certain aspects. Most ranking lists on the internet that claim Bank X is the best or Bank Y is the worst are not credible. We urge our readers to not get influenced by any rankings on the internet and to make informed decisions based on their experience. 

The investment bank market is largely dominated by elite bulge bracket banks like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Bank of America. These are among some of the first names that pop into our heads when we think about investment banks. 

However, not all investment banks get the opportunity to work on multi-billion dollar deals. There are still various middle market investment banks that cater to small and medium-sized firms that approximately make up ⅓ of the U.S. economy. 

The criteria for classifying a middle market bank is varied and is a grey area. However, there are still certain factors that the general consensus seems to accept. So, first, let’s learn ‘What exactly are middle market investment banks?” 

What are Middle Market Investment Banks?

Middle-market investment banks are financial institutions that primarily provide their services to smaller and mid-tier firms. They are majorly known for offering mergers and acquisition advisory but also offer other services like ECM, DCM, and even restructuring. 

As the name suggests, mid-market refers to mid-tier firms with an annual revenue of $10 million to $500 million. Most of these companies have around 100-200 employees. While elite bulge bracket banks like JP Morgan have an established international presence, middle market banks are well-known in the local market. 

Some of the top middle market investment banks include Stifel Financial Corp, Robert W. Baird, Piper Jaffray & Co, and Needham and Co. 

Criteria to Qualify as a Middle Market Investment Bank

In order to qualify as a middle market IB, each bank must meet certain criteria that are accepted by the general populace. The criteria are as follows- 

  • Client Size: Firms with an annual revenue of $10 million to $500 million, employee count between 100 to 1,000, and a market cap between $10 million to $1 billion. 
  • Bank Size: Bigger than regional boutique banks but smaller than bulge bracket banks like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. 
  • Geographic Focus: MM banks generally have a solid local presence with multiple offices in their home country but lack international exposure. 
  • Deal Size: Deals with mid-tier firms range from $1 million to $500 million
  • Services Provided: Debt Fundraising, Equity Fundraising, and Mergers and Acquisitions advisory. 
  • Optional Services: Sales and Trading, Equity Research, and Restructuring. 

Now that we have understood what constitutes an MM bank. Let’s take a look at the best middle market investment banks in the industry. 

The List of Top Middle Market Investment Banks in 2023

Here is the list of the top middle-market investment banks in 2023. 

William Blair & Co.

Founded in 1935, William Blair is a multinational middle-market boutique investment bank based in Chicago, Illinois with a major international presence in China and other Asian countries. The IB is categorised in the upper middle market zone that provides a wide range of financial services to different industries. 

Bank Services: Offers a range of financial services like equity research, brokerage services, private equity, asset management, and investment banking. 

Work Culture: William Blair & Co. boasts a lenient work culture where client requirements are given the topmost priority. 

Industry Focus: Most clients are public or privately owned companies. Their focus is divided across various sectors like energy, healthcare, technology, retail, and financial services. 

Notable Deals: Agilon Health(Equity Capital Markets), Lazer(Acquistion), Tessco(Acquistion). 

Stifel

Founded in 1890, Stifel is based in Missouri, United States. It has a strong presence in various industries like defence, aerospace, healthcare, energy, real estate, and more. With an employee strength of 5200, Stifel has unparalleled experience in over 900 mergers and acquisitions transactions, 3100 public offerings, and 400 private placements since the year 2000. 

Bank Services:  Offers a range of financial services like investment banking and asset management. The firm is renowned for its IPO advisory services in the mid-market sector. 

Work Culture: Stifel is a strong firm with strong connections. Since its main focus is IPO, it excels in doing business in IPO whether it's debt or equity. 

Industry Focus: Focuses on industries like defence, aerospace, energy, technology, financial services, and retail. 

Notable Deals: N/A

Houlihan Lokey

Houlihan Lokey is among the top middle market investment banks in the industry. Founded in 1972, it is larger than its competitors and is actually owned by 250 of its employees. It is an American multi-national MM investment bank based in California, Los Angeles. The firm is renowned for its industrial advisory groups and financial restructuring practices and has also won various awards including the BEST INVESTMENT BANKING FIRM AWARD.

Bank Services: Globally recognized as one of the best middle market investment banks and an advisory-focused IB. Major services include financial advisory related to M&A, financial restructuring, and corporate finance. 

Work Culture: Houlihan Lokey has a strict selection process and only selects the best of the best. Its employees are intelligent individuals who are quick to resolve their client’s queries with their problem-solving skills. 

Industry Focus: It is renowned globally and has a strong presence in North America, Europe, and Asia. It mainly focuses on industries like healthcare, aerospace, automotive, telecommunications, sports, food, and more. 

Notable Deals: China Fishery(Restructuring), Hershey(Acquisition), Kestrel Coal(Refinance).

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Robert W. Baird & Co.

Founded in 1919, Robert W. Baird & Co. is a multinational middle market boutique investment bank based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The firm is recognised primarily for its work with industrial companies and is very competitive in the middle market space. It is an employee-owned IB firm with over 3100 employees and offices in various countries like the United States, Europe, and several Asian countries. 

Bank Services: Baird is one of the top middle market investment bank firms and is recognised as a one-stop shop for all financial services. It mainly focuses on asset management, private wealth management, private equity, fixed income, and equity capital markets. 

Work Culture: Similar to most MM investment banks, Robert W. Baird & Co. offers plenty of growth and learning opportunities to its employees and has a pretty lenient culture. 

Industry Focus: Mainly offers its services to firms in healthcare, real estate, technology, industrial technology and energy distribution sectors. 

Notable Deals: Industrial Physics(Acquisition), All Star Services(Acquisition), Well Tower(Debt Capital Markets)

Lincoln International

Founded in 1996, Lincoln International is known for taking on relatively smaller deal sizes but with a high volume of deals. It is renowned as one of the elite and top middle market investment banks with offices in various international cities like Paris, Los Angeles, Tokyo, London, Mumbai, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Sao Paolo, Beijing, Moscow, Vienna, Paris, and Milan. It is perhaps one of the biggest middle market investment banks with such an international presence. They have also claimed to have completed more than 130 advisory assignments in the year 2013. 

Bank Services: The M&A department at Lincoln International is considered to be one of the best and is very straightforward and aggressive in its approach. 

Work Culture: With more than 300 employees, Lincoln International is a rapidly expanding firm and expects its employees to work hard and maintain the goodwill it has in the market. It is probably one of the best middle market investment banks to work with. 

Industry Focus: Multiple offices around the world offer services to multiple industries. Most well known for M&A advisory. 

Notable Deals: Questx(Acquisition Sale), Blue Sea Capital(Acquisition), Traksatr(Acquisition Sale)

Harris Williams & Co.

Founded in 1991, Harris Williams & Co. is an American middle market investment bank based in Richmond, Virginia. With over 200 employees, the firm is very competitive in the middle market and is primarily known for broad sponsor sell-side deals. It has a decent international presence with offices in international cities like Frankfurt and London. The firm also has many local regional offices in cities like San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Minneapolis. 

Bank Services: Harris Williams & Co. offers financial advisory services in fairness options, mergers & acquisitions, and restructuring. It is a renowned firm in Leveraged Buyout(LBO) transactions and is one of the best MM banks for private equity firms. 

Harris Williams & Co. is a subsidiary of PNC Financial Services and has acquired a number of middle market investment banks in the past decade. 

Work Culture: Harris Williams & Co. has established its presence and is a well-known name in the Mergers and acquisitions scene. It aims to gain the client’s confidence and trust by maintaining high standards of performance. 

Industry Focus: It is a well-known name in various industries such as media, telecom, healthcare, business services, consumer, energy, power, transportation & logistics, and speciality distribution. 

Notable Deals: West Star Aviation(Acquisition Sale), Buck(Acquisition Sale), Southwire(Acquisition)

KPMG Corporate Finance

Founded in 1987, KPMG Corporate Finance is a financial services firm that is counted among the Big Four auditors with Deloitte, PwC, and Ey. It is based in the Netherlands and has successfully established its presence among the top middle market investment banks. KPMG Corporate Finance is a veteran firm with decades of experience and a vast network of clients spread globally. 

Bank Services: KPMG is primarily into tax audit services and accounting. The financial services division of the firm called KPMG Corporate Finance analyses each and every aspect of the deals and offers insight into strategic options, assessment, and structure formation to present the deal in the market and successfully close it. 

Work Culture: Its long list of awards is a testament to its work culture. It is also the preferred employer for working mothers which is an award in itself. 

Industry Focus: It mainly provides its services across 11 verticals such as insurance, real estate, consumer markets, media & marketing, technology and communications, business services, energy and natural resources, cleantech and industrial technology, financial services, healthcare, and industrial markets. 

Notable Deals: N/A

Raymond James Financial

Founded in 1962, Raymond James is a full-service top middle market investment bank with a solid deal flow and an average transaction size greater than most other groups within the firm. It is headquartered in Florida, United States, and has over 6500 employees. The firm manages over 2.7 million accounts in more than 2600 locations across the United States of America, South America, Canada, and other locations. 

Bank Services: It is one of the best middle market investment banks that provides a plethora of financial services to their clients, focusing mainly on IPOs and mergers & acquisitions. Raymond James Financial mainly caters to firms that are in the upper segment of the middle market. 

Work Culture: In 2012, Raymond James merged with Morgan Keegan & Co. and became a well-known name in the middle market investment banking segment. 

Industry Focus: It primarily offers its services to industries like real estate, security, defence, infrastructure, healthcare, consumer, retail energy, transportation, technology, and financial services. 

Notable Deals: InflaRx(Equity Capital Markets), Bumble(Equity Capital Markets), CBank(Acquisition).

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Lazard

Founded in 1848, Lazard is established in Hamilton, Bermuda but runs its operations from New York, United States. With over 2600 employees, Lazard has a number of offices in over 42 cities across 27 countries. Lazard Middle Market is the middle market investment bank division of Lazard, which is a boutique bank. 

Bank Services: It offers services like mergers & acquisitions, asset management, financial advisory, and investment banking. 

Work Culture: While Lazard Boutique Bank is a renowned and respected name in the market, Lazard MM is also taking the legacy forward and is on an upward trajectory. 

Industry Focus: Lazard MM is still a relatively fresh firm that mainly offers financial services to middle-market firms. 

Notable Deals: N/A

Brown Gibbons Lang & Co.

Founded in 1989, Brown Gibbons Lang & Co. is an independent top middle market investment bank that offers financial services to its clients spread across the United States. It is also known as BGL and is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. The main objective of BGL is to offer solid and unfiltered advice to firms that are facing challenges and struggling to make profits in their industries. Brown Gibbons Lang & Co. operates on a very niche vertical in the middle market segment. It caters to business owners who are looking for financial experts who can analyze the issues affecting their business and industry. 

Bank Services: Brown Gibbons Lang & Co. primarily offers financial advisory and transaction requirements to their clients. It is mainly recognised for offering investment banking advice to its clients. 

Work Culture: BGL is an independent middle market investment bank and offers unprejudiced and unbiased advisory services that benefit their clients. 

Industry Focus: BGL has maintained its focus on limited industries and mainly caters to real estate, healthcare, industrial, multifamily space, consumer products and retail services, and metals and metal processing. 

Notable Deals: N/A

Read Also:- Best Small Businesses to Invest in 2024

Final Thoughts

With this, our top 10 list of the top middle market investment banks comes to an end. These are some of the most popular investment firms in the market with a strong presence in several industries and an excellent reputation among their clients. 

However, this list is not a ranking or best-to-worst list. All the MM investment firms listed here excel in their certain services and have made a name for themselves after decades of hard work and perseverance. 

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Q.1 Is middle market banking the same as investment banking?

Ans. Primarily, there are three major types of investment banks namely regional and elite boutique banks, middle market banks, and bulge bracket banks. While boutique banks have a smaller client base, bulge bracket banks mainly cater to huge corporate clients. Middle Market investment banks stand in between and mainly provide their services to mid-tier firms.

Q.2 What makes an investment bank middle market?

Ans. Middle market banks have customers like private, public, and family-owned companies that fall between small businesses and multi-national companies. These investment banks mainly target companies with an annual revenue of less than $500. 

Q.3 Is it better to work in a middle market or bulge bracket investment bank?

Ans. Both middle market and bulge bracket investment banks offer great job opportunities and no one is better than the other. It mainly comes to your personal preferences. While MM banks offer lenient working hours and fewer workloads, BB Banks offer higher pay and compensation to their employees. It ultimately comes down to your requirements. 

That being said, if you have a job offer for a middle-market investment bank, you should consider the pros and cons and make an informed decision based on your requirements.