Once upon a time, Goldman was banging the drum for liberal arts majors. Liberal arts graduates are Goldman's second most populous employee cohort according to its own statistics. Last November, partner Jeff Goldenberg said liberal arts graduates are more interesting and better at communicating with clients than finance-obsessed types. Today, however, Lloyd Blankfein explained who the firm really wants to hire now, and history and English Literature graduates didn't get a look-in.
37% of the analysts hired by Goldman Sachs last year were STEM majors according to Blankfein. "We're specifically focused on hiring people with science and engineering skills into the firm," Blankfein said during a presentation at the Credit Suisse Financial Services Conference. "We employ 9,000 people in engineering roles," he added (at Goldman engineering is a synonym for technology), "that's one quarter of the firm."
Of course, this implies that 63% of Goldman's 2016 analyst hires weren't science and technology types, but the direction of travel is clear. Blankfein's enthusiasm for STEM students follows the promotion of Marty Chavez as CFO (starting April). A technologist and quant by training, Chavez is expected to hasten the spread of new technologies like Marquee across Goldman's business. Chavez himself is as STEM as they come: he told Goldman's 2016 interns that when he interviewed at the firm he took the firm's programming test and its math test. Students who can do neither are likely to be less popular under the new regime.
Even if you're a STEM zen master, getting into Goldman is no pushover. Blankfein said today that 130,000 people applied for 5,000 internships last year: an acceptance rate of 4% (up from 3% last year). Notably, however, 20% of the people Goldman offered internships to declined, suggesting that a fair percentage of the top students Goldman would like to hire decided to try their luck elsewhere. Research last year suggested that the most talented students at schools like MIT prefer to give banking a miss.
This might be because today's jobs at Goldman Sachs aren't the same as yesterday's. The firm continues to add talent away from Wall Street and the City of London and to focus on 'low cost locations' like Salt Lake City, where Blankfein said headcount is up 80% in five years.
Those who do get into Goldman tend to stick around though. Blankfein said nearly 60% of the firm's partners and managing directors joined the firm as analysts directly from university. He also stressed how Goldman's use of Hirevue's digital interviewing platform is allowing the firm to broaden the number of universities it hires from. This year, students from 900 different colleges and universities were interviewed, said Blankfein - 100 more than last year. As we reported last week, some Goldman analysts are allegedly complaining that this has diluted the Goldman gene pool.