Many are called, few chosen. Goldman Sachs has appointed just 78 new partners, a modest increase on a low of 70 in 2012, but below the figure of 111 in 2010. One of the most prized job titles in banking will thus keep its exclusivity, adorning an anticipated 467 bankers at the start of 2015, according to the investment bank.
The appointees include public relations chief Jake Siewert, a former aide to Tim Geithner when he was Treasury secretary, Owen West, a commodities trader who served as a US Marine, and British IT expert Joanne Hannaford.
What they have in common according to Edith Cooper, global head of human capital management, is “commercial excellence in adding to the firm’s infrastructure or client franchises.”
Goldman has been seeking to limit its cadre of top bankers – which stood at 477 in 2012 – in proportion to its full-time workforce of around 29,200. This chimes with a focus on costs by Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive.
Partners are no longer profit-sharing co-owners of the business as they were before the investment bank floated in 1999. But they receive a “partnership bump” taking their salary to around $900,000 and their bonus to a multiple of that.
They are also able to invest in special fee-free funds, which according to filings paid out $126m to Mr Blankfein in the last five years.
“Partners’ compensation has more volatility,” said Michael Sherwood, the bank’s London-based vice-chairman who co-headed the selection committee.
The biennial appointment of a couple of bankers more or less from particular Goldman divisions should not be interpreted as seismic shifts. But an increase in the proportions of new partners from investment banking, such as healthcare banker Ben Thorpe, and from the US headquarters still reflects the strength of those businesses compared with securities trading and foreign offices.
The growing importance of financial technology was embodied in a partnership for Darren Cohen, who has led the project to create the Symphony messaging system and is head of Goldman’s principal strategic investments group.
The latest appointments take the number of top management to underlings to around 1.6 per cent of full-time workers. The figure was 1.7 per cent in 2012 and has gone as high as 1.8 per cent.
Candidates are assessed by committees led by a partner from outside the contender’s division. Last-minute haggling over borderline candidates went on into Tuesday. The names were flashed up on a screen to those already within the charmed circle at 7.30am on Wednesday.
Mr Blankfein and his number two Gary Cohn began calling successful candidates in the Asian business before dawn in New York on Wednesday and worked their way around the world.
“The partnership binds people to the firm,” said Mr Sherwood. Those who had hoped to be picked but missed out will have to wait another two years to be considered. Some may quit instead. “Now we sit back and see who leaves,” said one Wall Street observer.
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