Want to get hired as a partner at Goldman Sachs? Get into a bidding war

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There may not be a better time to be a senior M&A banker with some big deals under your belt. With the recent spike in global M&A activity, you’re bound to get multiple offers and maybe even a chance at a big promotion, if you play your cards right.

Take Ben Frost, the former head of consumer retail investment banking at Morgan Stanley who left the firm in April. At the time, Reuters reported that Frost was in talks with Goldman Sachs, though the two had not agreed on terms. Two weeks later, Business Insider confirmed that Frost did in fact ink a deal with Goldman Sachs but only after first negotiating with Evercore. Goldman reportedly “swooped in” at the very end.

Now we have an idea how Goldman won the deal. Frost started this month at Goldman but not as a managing director. The bank made him a partner MD as part of the offer. Whether that sweetener was added to pry Frost away from Evercore is unclear – Goldman didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry on Frost’s hiring – but making a senior dealmaker a partner as part of the hiring process shows how competitive recruiting has become in M&A.

Frost is no job hopper. He spent 17 years at Morgan Stanley before leaving to join Goldman. He reportedly advised Unilever when it became a takeover target of Kraft Heinz in 2017 and worked with Mars Inc. on its $9 billion deal to acquire animal hospital chain VCA.

Global M&A revenue was up 60% year-to-date as of the end of May, according to Dealogic. And it seems the latest poaching war is just ramping up.

While losing out on Frost, Evercore increased its number of senior MDs by eight during the first quarter alone, a particularly impressive stat considering it’s a boutique. Meanwhile, UBS is looking to double its number of senior dealmakers in the U.S. The Swiss bank hired two from Deutsche Bank and one each from RBC and Bank of America in the past few months.

Goldman's offer of partnership status comes after various executive directors have left the bank this year, despite allegedly being in line for promotion to managing director in 2019.  There are suggestions that the managing director title at Goldman Sachs is less prestigious than previously after a record number of managing directors were promoted last year.

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