Credit: Sam Valadi

Goldman Sachs is having to promote juniors faster to hang onto them

The investment bank is finally automating grunt work in a bid to keep its staff.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 08 Apr 2016

Being the most feared and admired bank on Wall Street is apparently still not enough to hang on to junior staff. Goldman Sachs is promising faster promotions, third-year rotations and less grunt work to its graduate hires in a bid to persuade them to stay longer than a couple of years.

The initiatives were unveiled yesterday, after the bank spent nine months trying to figure out what would stop its juniors being poached by asset mangers, hedge funds and private equity firms and persuade the brightest students to plump for scandal-hit investment banking over Silicon Valley or other careers in finance.

A 20% pay rise to around £56,000 last year apparently wasn’t enough. As long as they’re up to scratch, analysts can now expect to be promoted to £90k-a-year associates after two years instead of three. In their third year, they’ll get the chance to spend time in another part of the business or a different country.

Hungry recruiters now start targeting investment bank juniors after just six months on the job, so Goldman will start grooming the very best for promotion at that time too. They could now become so-called vice presidents after three and a half years, a year sooner than before.

It’s not the first investment bank to speed up promotion at the lower levels – Citi and UBS already have similar policies in place. And there are risks that juniors who race up the rungs won’t actually get the experience they need to progress properly. Goldman, to be fair, does seems to get that – and the fact it doesn’t have much choice.

‘We’re really trying to develop people for a longer period of time than two years because, candidly, it takes more than two years to figure out [if banking is the right career],’ David Solomon, the co-chief of the firm’s investment bank, told Bloomberg. ‘We’re basically just matching what’s going on in the world with other opportunities that are out there.’

But there’s still nothing more off-putting for high-flying graduates than to arrive at a supposedly best-in-class job, only to spend long hours cutting and pasting in Excel and creating dull as ditchwater pitchbooks. So now, for example, there’s a search engine Goldman analysts can use to create said pitchbooks in one hour instead of 12.

Meaningful work, more than anything, may be the key to holding onto millenials. After all, when you’re already being paid £56,000 in your early 20s what’s £30,000 or so between friends?

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