It is not new news to say that Gary Cohn and Lloyd Blankfein at Goldman Sachs think Europe is where all the opportunities are right now. Both men have been saying as much for some time. The opportunity to seize market share from rivals and to help European banks sell assets is seen as a boon by Goldman’s senior executives.
What is new, however, is the explicit linkage of this to recruitment. There may not be any intention of setting up a low cost back office hub in Europe. But more business in Europe means Europe is where Goldman needs to hire people especially.
Yesterday, Cohn went on Bloomberg Television to talk about the crisis in the Eurozone. “We think the biggest opportunities for us right now are in Europe,” he added. “The most important resource we need in Europe right now is human capital.”
This is strange given figures from the FSA and IMAS indicated that Goldman International reduced the number of approved persons it employed in London by 17 last month. However, the firm is currently advertising 73 jobs in Europe – mostly in technology and operations.
Having cut 8% of its staff over the past year, Cohn claimed he’d prefer not to cut any more people. “I don’t think we’re going to be that much smaller,” he said.
Ominously though, Cohn indicated that the optimum size of Goldman’s sales and trading business remains unclear. Although the company doesn’t want to cover fewer clients or restrict research, he said: “The sales and trading world -- that’s a world where we’re going to have to figure out what the right size is.”
Last month, analysts at Creditsights suggested Goldman is in a state of, 'transformational change' as a result of which it will be employing fewer and less costly sales and trading staff in future.
Cohn’s public avowal of Goldman’s need for ‘human capital’ in Europe could be read as a call for students and employees of rival firms to send in their CVs so that it can cherry pick the best. It’s a strategy that has been used to some effect by Richard Handler at Jefferies in the past, who regularly let it be known that the bank was hiring and waited for CVs to come in. As a result, Jefferies was able to build much of its European business without spending excessively on headhunting fees.
Goldman still says it receives 25 CVs per role, but Cohn may need to work harder to drum up CVs for Goldman in Europe nowadays. This year’s Universum report of graduate career intentions indicates that the firm has fallen to 10th in the list of where business students in the UK would most like to work.