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Why I’m leaving Goldman Sachs’ technology analyst program

Leaving GS tech

Goldman Sachs wants to hire technologists. When CEO Lloyd Blankfein presented at Credit Suisse’s banking conference earlier this week, he said that 70% of the people the bank hired for a key electronic trading system last year were engineers and stressed the firm’s partiality to “strats.” Insiders say the tech traning program at Goldman is already “huge.” If Goldman really wants to increase its population of engineers, however, it might also like to look at what makes existing tech juniors leave.

We already noted the many complaints about Goldman’s tech program on Glassdoor.  However, the people complaining on GD that they’re being overworked, mismanaged and schooled in non-transferable programming languages may simply be looking to vent. One ex-Goldman technologist in NYC says he left for an a more noble reason.

“I am working on a more developer-friendly way to rapidly prototype complex equity and debt based securities and derivative instruments,” says Arthur Collé, a former analyst at Goldman in New York. Collé quit Goldman this month and is now a self-described “hacker” working at  StructureChain, a company he’s set up himself. “I am focused on preliminary research while I implement a v0 prototype of the generic pricing engine and contracts modelling meta-language,” he adds. “I’ve left Goldman to pursue these things full time.”

For a bank like Goldman, Collé looks like a bit of a bad dream. Banks have long had problems retaining analysts in the front office as people quit for private equity and hedge funds. Collé suggests the trend is spreading to tech.

A computer science graduate from the University of Maryland, Collé only joined Goldman’s software engineering graduate training program in New York City in July 2015. In July 2017 he switched to become a structurer/trader in the mortgage division of the firm. He says his time at GS was “foundational.” Goldman taught him about mortgage-backed securities, but now he wants to apply that knowledge elsewhere.

“I think there’s a huge need to build alternatives to the closed systems that are ubiquitous at large securities firms,” says Collé. “I want to build a useful collection of applications that enable financial products’ innovation…without needing a bank.” Predictably, blockchain is part of his purview: his long term goal is to create a scalable blockchain framework that uses multiple chains dependent on their individual strengths. ” I’m very excited to try and create value in novel ways using cryptographic techniques,” Collé explains.

Couldn’t he have been very excited at Goldman Sachs too? Seemingly not. “If I stayed at GS then the idea wouldn’t be my intellectual property,” says Collé. More importantly, he says his idea will put him at odds with Goldman and other banks if it takes off: “Once a network is up and running and one is functionally able to, for example hedge interest rate risk using these crypto-asset issues, then effectively this system would be openly competing with the big banks, Bloomberg and other risk management and securities structuring firms.”

Why work for an investment bank when you could be turning the world upside down? “It’s really ground breaking work,” says Collé. He plans to spend a “few years” focused on it and won’t be seeking VC funding for a while. It’s about more than just the money.

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