Moelis began his career at Drexel Burnham Lambert in 1981 where he would ultimately serve as a managing director working for Michael Milken in the firm's Los Angeles office. Following the collapse of Drexel, Moelis left with a portion of his team to join Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette where he served as head of its corporate finance investment banking division. Under Moelis, DLJ emerged as a prominent investment banking firm in Los Angeles in the 1990s.
Following the acquisition of DLJ by Credit Suisse First Boston in 2000, Moelis was named head of US investment banking of the combined firm in September 2000. However, his tenure at CSFB would be short, announcing his departure for UBS (then known as UBS Warburg) just months later taking the core of his team with him, including a number that would later join Moelis & Company. Moelis recruited more than 70 senior investment bankers to UBS within three months of his arrival.
In his six years at UBS, Moelis ultimately assumed the role of president of UBS Investment Bank and was credited with the build-out of UBS's investment banking operation in the United States. By the end of 2006, UBS was ranked Top 4 in the global fee pool for the first time.
Moelis founded Moelis & Company along with several fellow senior UBS investment bankers that included Navid Mahmoodzadegan, Jeff Raich, John Momtazee, Todd Wadler, Elizabeth Crain and Warren Woo. Moelis's departure was caused primarily by repeated conflict over the company's inflexible bureaucracy.
Moelis is a member of the Hillcrest Country Club.
- The dealer's got a hot hand. Los Angeles Business Journal, October 21, 1991
- Ken Moelis Waits for Bat Phone to Ring as Wall Street Rebounds. Bloomberg, August 10, 2009
- The Networker:. Dealmaker, April/May 2008
- $5 Million from Alumni Julie and Ken Moelis to Support Wharton Sports Business Initiative. University of Pennsylvania Almanac, March 4, 2008
- Moelis to Leave CSFB for Smaller UBS Warburg. LA Times, November 22, 2000
- Drexel Alumni Move Onward. New York Times, August 13, 2000
- Los Angeles, Back on the Money Map. New York Times, August 13, 2000
- Credit Suisse Assigns Executives. New York Times, September 11, 2000
- Credit Suisse Is Losing Another of Its Top Bankers. New York Times, November 22, 2000
- Two Dozen More Bankers Leave Credit Suisse for UBS. New York Times, December 6, 2000
- Future of UBS Executive Part of Wall Street Chatter March 16, 2007
- Moelis Is Leaving UBS. New York Times, March 19, 2007
- Ex-UBS executive Moelis opens firm. LA Times, July 20, 2007
- Ken Moelis parts ways with UBS: Some wonder if the high-profile investment banker will launch his own firm in L.A. LA Times, March 20, 2007
- His firm has skin in the game. LA Times, August 5, 2008