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Goldman Sachs VP: "People try to poach me daily"

When Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon presented at this week's UBS Financial Services conference, he repeated a frequently-cited motif: Goldman Sachs people are the best.

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"The firm is filled with extraordinary people," Solomon declared. "We have extraordinary talent. The bench is extraordinarily deep....We have an extraordinary hiring machine..."

When Goldman Sachs sets its mind to hiring someone, it can usually do it, said Solomon. However, the caliber of Goldman's people comes with a downside: everyone else wants to hire them away.

After a cautious bonus round and an unexpectedly generous pay rise for Solomon himself, Goldman insiders say the recruiter calls are coming thick and fast. "I get inbounds every day," says one senior vice president (VP) in the asset management division. "If I wanted, I could move away from Goldman tomorrow."

Some people are taking recruiters up on their offers. Rates traders left over the Christmas break, before bonuses were even paid. Beth Hammack, the co-head of the financing group, resigned last week. Julian Salisbury left the asset management for Sixth Street last year. 

Speaking at the UBS conference, Solomon said the comings and goings are simply the ebb and flow of running a big business. Talent at Goldman is a "dynamic" thing, he said: "People come, people go, it's always been like that."

If the Goldman Sachs goings increase in 2024, there may be a reason. There are suggestions of disgruntlement among Goldman people after Solomon's 24% pay rise, which accompanied a 24% fall in the firm's profits. One VP said Solomon's pay rise was seen as "unfair" and that it was bad for morale following a year in which most other people's pay had been held flat or had increased 5% at the most. However, another said the complaining is overdone. "Everyone chuckles about David Solomon and his compensation," says the VP. "It's not related to performance, but people don't seem angry - it's seen as more of a joke."  

People recognize the value of hanging on to get the Goldman name embedded on a resume. "Goldman tell you that you're part of an amazing franchise and a great brand, and to some extent that's true," says one VP. "It's helped my CV for sure to have Goldman on there."

Wanting Goldman on your CV doesn't mean ignoring recruiter calls, though. Goldman VPs say their heads are being turned by the much higher pay on offer on the buy-side. "There are senior VPs in front office roles at Goldman Sachs on $450k," claims one VP. "I know associates at Blackstone on $600k and they have a much better lifestyle," he adds. 

Nor is pay the only issue. Unlike other banks, Goldman doesn't have a "director" rung of its hierarchy. VPs there are simply promoted to managing director, or not. "There's a title haircut at Goldman Sachs," says one VP. "I'm working with people who've been VPs for 10-15 years, and who should be a principal or managing director. I don't want to work here for 10 years trying to make MD only to be told I'm not going to make it and then to be looking for another VP job.

They do this deliberately to devalue us," he suggests. "It's actually an incentive to leave."

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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