Although Goldman Sachs still pays extremely well, the New York bank aggressively ratcheted down compensation costs last year, allocating just 37% of revenue to cover employee salaries, bonuses and benefits. Overall pay was down 3% year-over-year, despite the fact that Goldman added 500 employees in 2013.
One of the key tools the bank has been using to decrease compensation costs (without everyone quitting) is by adding talent in low-cost sectors like Dallas and Salt Lake City, as well as overseas in Bangalore, India. Much of the more recent domestic growth has been taking place in Salt Lake City, now home to roughly 1,800 Goldmanites, with another 200 hires likely coming soon. Clearly, Utah works for some, but would it work for you? It all depends on your answers to these questions.
Are you OK being a big fish in a small pond?
It goes without saying that you’ll make significantly less working for Goldman in Salt Lake City than you would in New York. Roughly 30% less for an identical position, according to Reuters. But, as long as you aren’t summering in the West Village, you’re still coming out ahead due to the differences in cost of living.
Making $50,000 in Salt Lake City equates to making nearly $120,000 in Manhattan, according to CNN’s cost of living calculator. Utah is now the fifth most affordable state in the U.S. and offers the 10th lowest tax burden in the country.
Plus, your salary will likely dwarf that of your neighbor’s. The average annual salary in Utah is under $42,000.
Do you work in the back office? If not, are you OK going to lunch with them?
Goldman is quick to point out that Salt Lake City is home to nine of its 11 business units. But the two that aren’t there are the sexy high-paying jobs: trading and investment banking. Salt Lake employs hundreds in technology, compliance and operations, with others working in human resources and finance. However, higher-paying roles in wealth and asset management are also available.
Currently, there are 27 open jobs in technology on Goldman’s career page, along with 15 in operations, 12 in finance and four in compliance. There aren’t any in wealth and asset management, but usually those types of roles are filled through analyst programs or are un-posted.
How important is job security?
Goldman has made a pledge to continue pushing jobs to low-cost areas. Logic will dictate then that you are less likely to be a casualty as a lower-paid staffer in Salt Lake than you would as a more costly employee in New York or London.
Do you like being outside more than inside?
New York and London have culture: plays, museums, sporting events and thousands of amazing restaurants. Utah, on the other hand, specializes in outdoor activities. It’s home to five national parks – the most of any U.S. state – and there are 11 ski resorts within an hour of the airport. If you like hiking, skiing, mountain biking and rafting, you won’t find a much better locale.
How important is a nightlife?
However, if a thriving nightlife is a priority, you may want to look elsewhere. Utah has the most stringent alcohol laws in the country, with the state having a monopoly over wholesaling booze. Most stores sell beer with minimal alcohol content and no bar stays open past 1 a.m. Before last year, you weren’t even allowed to order alcohol at a restaurant unless you were ordering food.
And if you’re single, your options may be limited. While Utah is the youngest state in the country, with an average age of 29, it has the highest percentage of married couples and family households in the U.S.
Are you OK with more of a startup feel?
You are working at Goldman Sachs, so it is far from a startup, but the firm says that the office culture in Salt Lake City is different. Younger workers in Utah tend to have more responsibility and greater exposure to all the firm's businesses, at least according to Goldman.