Goldman Sachs and a host of other big companies ranked among the most prestigious banks in the world this year, according to a study measuring banking prestige.

The results were a bit surprising, given Goldman Sachsrole in the meltdown of the U.S. economy over the past several years. This year’s dominance of the rankings by big banks came after a previous year that saw small banks make progress in the Banking Prestige Rankings.

“Goldman again taking the top spot in our Banking Prestige Rankings might seem to conflict with the public’s perception of the firm, but despite all the negative press Goldman has received during the past year, the firm is still on its feet, landing large deals and banking billions of dollars,” said Derek Loosvelt, finance editor. “And it’s done a pretty good job of handling all of the negative press—some deserved, some not—thrown its way during the past 12 months. It successfully slid the SEC suit under the rug and has largely stayed out of headlines since.”

Goldman has now held the top spot in the prestige rankings for 11 consecutive years. Here’s a sampling of what respondents said about Goldman Sachs, according to Vault:

  • “Gold standard of banking.”
  • “A bit tarnished lately.”
  • “A profit making machine.”
  • “Makes the most money.”
  • “Brings in the best deals.”
  • “A great brand name.”
  • “King of the Street.”

    Goldman Sachs office
    Goldman Sachs office

How Banks Stacked Up

After Goldman came a few more large banks. The Blackstone Group, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, among others, rated in the top ten. Even though massive company Bank of America didn’t crack the top ten, it jumped from 21st to 12th.

The upward movement among big banks came at the expense of smaller companies. Smaller boutique banks such as Greenhill, Evercore, Rothschild and Moelis & Company all lost ground in the rankings.

“In 2008, most big banks suffered, booking billions of losses and laying off thousands of employees while many experienced professionals at large firms who weren’t laid off became afraid of prospective compensation restrictions and took positions at boutiques,” Loosvelt said. “But in 2009, deal markets returned, benefiting big banks’ bottom lines. Big banks, making billions of dollars like they’d done pre-2008, were again able to attract the best talent at both the lower and higher levels.”

Here’s the list of the top 10 most prestigious banks, according to Vault:

  1. Goldman Sachs
  2. The Blackstone Group
  3. JPMorgan Investment Bank
  4. Morgan Stanley
  5. Credit Suisse
  6. Lazard
  7. Deutsche Bank AG
  8. Barclays Capital
  9. Greenhill & Co.
  10. UBS Investment Bank

Details on the Survey

The survey was conducted earlier this year. More than 1,300 banking professionals from various levels of the industry were asked to rank the prestige of their peer banking institutions on a scale of one to ten. Participants were not allowed to enter votes for their own employer.

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  • A prestigious bank, sure…with a horrible brand image. However, consumer opinions of Goldman are essentially irrelevant because the general public is not the bank’s target audience. I’d be surprised if Goldman targeted more than 500,000 people around the world — all of them super-savvy and sophisticated international masters of finance. In their minds, Goldman can still make the world’s biggest deals happen, and that’s all that matters. That’s the real power of the Goldman brand.