Aussies on top at Goldman

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There are 18 much richer Australians this week, and it's not down to a lottery win.

Goldman Sachs JBWere has promoted18 people to become Australian managing directors (MDs) - nearly doubling the 22 it had. Rumour has it they'll each be on at least US$1.5m (AU$2.0m).

What's going on?

Craig Drummond, Chief Operating Officer at Goldman Sachs JBWere Sydney says the appointments "reflect the depth of talent and the significant contribution this group has made during what has been a good year for the firm." Meanwhile, a GSJBW spokeswoman says they were rewards for the ''exceptional performance',' and a way of harnessing leadership skills for the company. ''It also shows you can have a dedicated career path within the firm.''

Matthew Gowan, senior manager Hays Banking, says it is a retention strategy, as well as a reward. After all, who's going to leave with a pot of gold like this waiting?

The disproportionate number of Goldman is a top-tier bank might have something to do with the promotion of legacy JBWere staff. After all, Goldman needs a strong distribution network in Australia, which is exactly what it got in buying JBWere. What better way to tie in JBW bankers than make them MD.

Goldman has a history of promotions and "fantastic remuneration'' says John Noonan, Sydney bureau chief at Thomson Financial IFR. "They lock people in at director level. These banks exist to generate profit, and they reward their high-performers and try to keep them.''

Standard & Poor's New York has a wider view. It believes the rash of promotions springs from Australia's China-fuelled commodities boom and the explosion of financial institutions in Asia, all of which are hungry for bankers - many of whom live just south of the Equator.

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