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Is Goldman the only place to work?

Could it be Goldman Sachs is the only place to go if you want to make really big money?

“The typical head of natural resources investment banking at Goldman, who will be a partner, will be earning twice as much as his [or her] comparator at Credit Suisse,” says one London headhunter. “Managing directors in the City can’t compare their pay to that of Goldman partners – it’s a totally different dynamic.”

The fact that partners at Goldman Sachs make mega-money is nothing new – but last month it emerged that ‘the Firm’ had increased its base pay to 300k, twice what most managing directors in the City achieve.

And last week Financial News reported that Gary Cohn and Jon Winkelreid, lieutenants to Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein, received bigger payouts than the chief executives of Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers.

“Goldman’s numbers in corporate finance have been 5% to 10% higher than those at other banks this year,” says another headhunter, who asked not to be named. “Last year Morgan Stanley paid 10% to 15% more, and it was always expected Goldman would make up for that.”

On the whole, headhunters say the number of bankers earning more than US$10m was higher at Goldman than at any other bank this year. “It wasn’t always like this,” says the headhunter. “Goldman’s pay used to be discounted due to the strength of their franchise, but in the past three years they’ve been paying at the top of the market.”

Comments (36)

  1. I think eFinancialCareers tend to focus on Goldman too much, with the effect of making people at other firms feel inferior in some way – many Oxford friends have worked there but then moved on to other firms for more pay and senior positions within 3 years of joining as graduates. Sure, long run GS pays more to top people, but given banking is a cyclical business, exposure and responsibility at other top banks may be preferable for the CV with the longer-term plan of joining a hedge fund/private equity instead of trying for the elusive ‘gold-mine’ by digging away at Goldman, which becomes more a political process rather than technical one as you go up the ladder.

  2. There’s more to life than working at Goldman Sachs. If you want to work back-breaking hours in a homogenised culture in the hope of making it to partner one day in the far future, that’s fine. Meantime, you could be having fun working for a smaller boutique (like me).

  3. But what is the pay for graduates in a smaller boutiques?? And which are the best boutiques??


  4. The best paying boutiques are the biggest (and arguably not boutiques) – eg. Greenhill.

    See Boutiques offer bargain basement pay

    Other ’boutiques’, such as Bridgewell, pay less well – it’s said to have paid zero bonuses to its bottom ranking performers this year.

  5. As a junior I know for a fact that I am being paid more than the goldmanites at my level. Sure, their seniors are much more paid than the rest of the banks, but banking is not quite the only place to make money in financial markets and some hedge funds can crap on Goldman’s pay.

  6. We’ve putting people into boutiques on similar to bulge bracket packages – total comp of circa 40k – 39k+3k or 37+4k.

    There’s less face time and less of a corporate culture at a boutique. Are there less hours? If you’re working on a transaction, you’ll be working long hours either way.

    At a bulge bracket bank you crunch numbers and you’re a modeller, sitting in your little chicken coop and hanging out with other analysts. At a boutique you’ll be involved in actual meetings – there’s more exposure and there’s no closed door policy. You might even be sitting next to (or in the same room as) Tim Shacklock…

  7. I’m a headhunter focussing on front office Director and MD level positions, for front office trading and quant roles. I can safely say that the only bad things I hear about Goldmans are from people not working there. There is one way traffic for the best candidates from other investment banks to GS. This happens due to many advantages they have to offer potential Goldmanites (50%+ more money is just one of them).

  8. At the Analyst and Associate level, not matter what bulge bracket you work for, you’ll be a monkey in a cubicle crunching numbers and reformatting presentations all day (and mostly nights) and will seldom see or talk to a clients. Where you reach VP, it’s finally OK to go home before 10pm and let the team work all night. But you still don’t have much client exposure (except being a silent participant in meeting and conf calls). Big money in IB only comes when you have ownership of client relationship. And this only comes at the Director and MD levels. Maybe then being at GS is worth it if money is really the one and only thing that drives you.

  9. Insightful comments. Of course, Goldman tends to have very good people – in fact, their recruitment process is very thorough (simple (only interviews), but hard (many interviews)).

    But to say that there is only one-way-traffic of candidates to Goldman is simply wrong – I have observed quite a number of departures from the firm to even greener pastures. People have opted to start their own fund, or gone for more senior positions, or found that they valued their work-live balance more than their bank balance.

    It’s a great firm, no doubt, but there are people that like to work elsewhere.

  10. Let’s put it this way…if you have time to post on this forum either you don’t work at Goldman or never will….simple

  11. I would so dearly like to work for Goldman Sachs. It is a company that strives on excellence.

  12. Goldman who?

  13. Interesting, but at lower levels, Goldman is far away from paying premiums compared to other I-banks etc. quite the contrary…
    Goldman pays good at the very top but really low at the lower end of the pyramid…

  14. Do they pay more than McDonalds?

  15. I think there is a big difference between US and European i-banks’ workculture. I work for a top 3 European one and can afford to go home by 6.30 four times a week.

    I luv it here but still want to get GS on my CV for a year or two.

  16. Last year a candidate got offers from both Goldman and Morgan Stanley for entry-level quant role. She turned down the 60K base offer from Goldman and took the 90K one from Morgan. Personally I thought her decision was not wise.

  17. Goldman at Analyst/Associate level is a bloody nightmare. IT IS A MONKEY JOB which requires you to sit all and almost every night in the office crunching numbers and formatting MS Word presentations. It is a quasi-legal form of slavery.

    Former IB analyst at Goldman Reply
  18. I really agree with Johnny. I see nowadays other i-banks starting with over 100K for fresh MBAs. & any ideas guys ..where does GS stands for IT professionals in the Associate level(> 3 yrs exp)compared to other banks ..? But again truly agreeing,getting into GS is one of the toughest ..that makes it *special* .

  19. Without any second thought in my mind I can say GS is far ahead of other giant groups when it comes to Investment banking and wealth management …..I’m not very aware about pay in GS, but at the end of the day what counts most to me is job profile and responsibility.

  20. Suppose the City has always been obssessed by pay but how about some sensible questions here, like how can GS afford to pay more? Is it because they can charge more (haven’t seen that) or because they do more deals (not this year) or because their shareholders accept lower returns on revenue (why would you and then share price suffers so total comp not as good as it looks). How about some banking insights rather than just his is bigger than mine stuff.

  21. And what is your academic background?. B/c I heard that only those with strong academic background work in investment banking.

  22. Goldman is lovely, Coutts is lovely – I’d work at either (and have)

  23. Go and have a life, people. Goldman or not is a sideboard question.

  24. I worked at GS for 3 years and recently moved to a smaller bank. In my new job I work less hours and earn more money so would I work for GS again? The answer is never.GS is far too political and everybody there is quite backstabbing. As for the culture is is so fake it is unnatural!

  25. I’ve just been qualified as a barrister and working in the industry(legal-financial)before moving into practice. I believe, no matter how much Goldman pays at low or upper level. The main BENEFIT is; having GS on your C.V opens the door to EVERYWHERE….. no doubt about that.
    If i may comment on Kate’s posting (above); I think one of the main reasons why she is earning more now is simply with the help of 3 years at G.S on her C.V.

  26. I would love to work at Goldman. I have tried but got bombed out after 5 interviews. Pay is not the prime motivator. The culture and teamwork ethic are outstanding, as are some of the people I met there.

    Mark -Looking to get into IB Reply
  27. Dont be fooled they are a dirty company.

  28. How many interviews do they have for the whole process?

  29. It is a fantastic franchise and the reason they do so well, is they manage their money so well. That means they skew their rewards distribution to those that bring in the money and add considerable value.

    The rest of the 80% tend to have to work extreme hours and often undertake work below their abilities to support this. Whilst pay is still good at this level, it largely comparable with other top tier IBs. If you are middle rank banker and not in the top percentile, then perhaps it makes sense to look at other options where you can enjoy your work environment much more and perhaps shine more easily as you will have a better chance to show case your talents!

    That’s why GS can get the best of that type, but there is plenty more talent outside of the firm that doesn’t fit into the mould.

    JC, Recruitment Reply
  30. Hi any idea how much Goldmanian pay for analyst level in operations division?

  31. Wish I could work there.

  32. Hi, I had a very bad experience with GS.

    I attended their Technology decoded forum in london because i was looking to do my internship there and I was really impressed by their work ethics and the payment package they offer. but stern competition arrouse because of the university I attend and it seems to me that they only focus on the Imperial and Oxford students and people like me that managed to attend BIrmingham have no chance.

    I never got a call back from them only a rejection email anyway, I wish i can work for them one day…

  33. Totally agree with comment number two, plus unfriendly people working there, not all is

  34. Goldman Sachs new logo:

    “Goldman Sachs: We Are Goldman Sachs”

  35. What I would like to know is what Goldman’s staff retention rate is? How many people are still happily working there after 3 years? That would be a better mark of how good an employer they are.

    No Summer Internship! Reply
  36. I started work in the City at Goldmans and nowhere else since has compared, smart people, shared vision and comparative lack of politics. The best place to work in the City.

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