Investment banks have to work harder to keep hold of their analysts and associates. Yes, they may be swamped with applications, but top graduates are turning away for tech companies and consulting firms, while those who accept the job often have one eye on their next career move.
Banks are trying to appeal to 20-somethings, and at Goldman Sachs that doesn’t just mean letting technology and engineering staff dress down in the office – it means making them feel that they’re giving back.
Philanthropic activities are all the rage on Wall Street, but Goldman is putting its money where its mouth is by giving teams of analysts the chance to beat their peers, impress the firm's most senior partners and donate money to charity. The Analyst Impact Fund competition pits teams of three-to-five analysts against one another - the prize being $350k split between the six nonprofit organizations deemed to be the most worthy.
It's proven popular, with 75 teams totalling 300 analysts from 17 offices around the world competing. Goldman's Partnership Committee - 30 of its most senior partners - judged it and CEO Lloyd Blankfein announced the winners. Bronx Freedom Fund took third place (earning their nonprofit a $50k donation), Educate Girls finished in second place ($75k donation) and the winner was Kiron Open Higher Education ($150k)
The Bronx Freedom Fund team was made up of five senior analysts based in Goldman’s New York headquarters: Liz Fennell, Zack Newick, Taylor Dickinson, Lauren Foster and Sheema Golbaba. Their strategy was to tell stories of that would be impacted by the Bronx Freedom Fund, such as Kalief Browder, an African-American man who was arrested at the age of 16 for allegedly stealing a backpack. The judge set his bail at a level he couldn’t afford, and he was imprisoned for three years on Rikers Island without trial, spending most of this time in solitary confinement before eventually committing suicide.
“We made the human element clear, demonstrating that not only is this a great organization interested in achieving criminal justice reform, it has a model that is well suited for what the Analyst Impact Fund was asking us to do,” Dickinson says. “It’s part of Goldman’s culture of service, making sure it’s felt uniformly at every level, not just the senior people serving on boards who able to donate a lot of money, but also allowing junior people to have an impact, give back and contribute to society,” she says.
Last week, Johann Shudlick, the global head of diversity at Goldman Sachs, offered some pearls of wisdom to summer analysts, which recommended a combination of hard work, networking, subservience and absorbing Goldman's corporate identity. The winning analysts also advise interns to meet as many people as possible.
“Mentorship is encouraged here – you can basically email anyone and say ‘I want to learn more about what you and your team do,’ and most people are willing to take 15 or 20 minutes to have a coffee,” Foster says. “I’ve never felt shy about asking senior bankers, ‘Tell me how you’ve excelled in your career’ – if you want advice from senior people at the firm, form a bond common and keep in touch, their doors are usually open.
“Summer analysts should network and embrace every opportunity, follow up and ask people to get coffee,” she says. “Senior people are willing to share their perspective and they want junior people to succeed. Be sure to jump on projects and networking events to get the most out of it.”
Dickinson says that the firm’s culture is a bit of a flat organization that encourages mentorship.
The key skill that people who succeed have is to be able to make connections beyond the people they interact with in their day-to-day responsibilities.
“I’d encourage interns to think expansively and demonstrate a desire to want to help beyond their assigned tasks or projects,” Dickinson says.