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Morning Coffee: Goldman Sachs contemplates another empty office. Banks seriously hiring thousands here

Goldman Sachs Farringdon

When things don't go to plan

Do you remember last year’s tale of the empty sixth floor at Goldman Sachs’ office in Manhattan? Something similar could be coming to London soon.

Last September, the New York Times reported that Goldman’s Manhattan building was partially empty because it housed 17,000 fewer people than anticipated when it was finished in 2009. The show-piece glass-walled sixth floor was “something of a ghost town,” said the NYT.  People only went there to use the “bathrooms,” although a few partners had retained their sixth floor offices to make the most of the views.

Now the Wall Street Journal suggests Goldman is prepared to accept a similar fate for its new 850,000 square foot headquarters in London’s Farringdon. We’ve questioned the wisdom of constructing the new building – which is due for completion in 2017-2018 – here before, particularly as Goldman has voiced ominous warnings about scaling back in London if Britain votes to leave the European Union. However, it seems that Goldman has thought of this eventuality: the WSJ cites a Goldman person “familiar with the matter” who says, “the US bank is flexible about whether it will fill all floors with its staffers.”

In 2013, the co-chief executives of Goldman Sachs International warned that if Britain leaves the EU they might keep trading staff in London, but would likely move sales staff to local European offices. Since then, Goldman has opened a new Polish office for its European technologists. If Brexit happens, more than one floor in the Farringdon office could be surplus to requirements.

Separately, you really need to get a job in compliance. BNP Paribas says it hired 1,000 compliance professionals globally last year. HSBC says it hired 2,500. – And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Every bank is hiring hundreds, if not thousands, of compliance professionals. Forget the front office.

Meanwhile:

British bank stocks could decline 20% if Britain leaves the EU, says Autonomous. (Financial Times) 

FX trading headcount has fallen 25% since 2010. (Bloomberg)

45 year-old Peter Walker co-head of Goldman’s technology division, is retiring. Walker started as a VP in FICC strategy. (Business Insider) 

Complaints that junior bonuses in J.P. Morgan’s sales and trading business were allocated arbitrarily. (Dealbreaker) 

London-based high frequency trading firm XTX Markets has hired Goldman Sachs director Jigar Patel to head its electronic commodities business. (Bloomberg)

A reservoir of lazy workers is necessary for the survival of an ant colony, and – by implication – human beings. (WSJ)

HSBC and the princelings. (South China Morning Post)  

Someone in Hong Kong paid $2.3m for the licence plate ‘easy money’. (NY Times) 

Jane Street, just a bunch of Harvard Ph.D.s wearing flip-flops, shorts and hoodies, trading ETFs… (NY Times)  

CoCo bonds RIP. (BBC)

Photo credit: Desierto / Deserted by Hernán Piñera is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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