A MERITOCRACY THAT VALUES “THE HUSTLER”
“It is a place you come every day to see and work with the people that fill your life with great substance and intellectual curiosity. It is place where you not only start a career, but you grow and nurture a career. And it is a place that greatly values its employees equally, if not more than, its own clients and business; a place where people value each other with the highest degree of respect and trust.”
It’s certainly not for everyone. Some survey respondents describe the firm as a “risk averse” enterprise slowed by “red tape.” However, that’s part of the bargain with any big firm, as one New York staffer calls the firm “demanding and stressful but rewarding and fun.” That may have to do with the culture, with one member of the sales and trading desk feting the company as “meritocratic,” a firm for “self-starters” who thrive in flat structures and possess an entrepreneurial spirit.
“Goldman Sachs culture values the hustler,” opines one wealth manager in the San Francisco office. “You have to be willing to come in and get the job done every day. Everyone around you is working to maximum capacity and expects you to do the same.”
Better yet, it is a firm with something for everyone, whether they are seeking a stepping stone or a platform to rise in the ranks internally. “This is the best possible place to start a career,” adds a San Francisco partner in the 2018 survey, “because it provides a great training ground, a wonderful network, and it opens so many doors. And if you stick with it, it’s a great place to build a career.”
NEW GOLDMAN SACHS PRESIDENT – A FORMER DJ – EXPECTED TO SHAKE THINGS UP
It is also a firm slated for big changes in the coming year. David Solomon – a former DJ who once had a dance single in the Top 40 – will be succeeding Lloyd Blankfein as President of Goldman Sachs come October 1st. Popularly known as “DJ D-Sol,” Solomon is hardly a financial dilettante. Instead, he spent a decade as joint head of the firm’s investment banking division before becoming co-COO in 2016. Considering Solomon’s banking background, writes Loosvelt in an August post for Vault, many expect the firm to shift further into consumer banking and away from more “volatile” and “high-risk” endeavors.
Based on Solomon’s track record, Loosvelt himself believes he’ll loosen the reins at Goldman Sachs to make it more transparent and friendly to tech-savvy Millennials. After listening to Solomon tap into his DJ background during podcasts, Loosvelt writes the firm may soon become more values-driven, socially conscious, and life friendly.
“If culture starts at the top, this could mean that outside passions will be even more welcome than they already are at Goldman. Which reminds me of that ubiquitous phrase “Bring your whole self to work.” Overused, yes, but certainly important and relevant, as it points to the growing value that young talent places on the ability to be themselves in their jobs, and to bring all of their talents and interests and passions to the workplace.”
NO BETTER PLACE THAN EVERCORE TO BEGIN A CAREER
This strategy may also help the firm distance itself from Evercore in next year’s rankings. This year, the firm was poised to unseat Goldman Sachs, but failed to make the close. On one hand, Evercore’s prestige score cracked a 7 average for the first time. Even more, it ranked among the Top 5 firms in eight workplace categories, including 2nd for Business Outlook, Firm Leadership, Formal Training, and Hiring Process – and 3rd for Compensation and Informal Training. However, Evercore’s scores dropped in 10 of 19 categories, including ranking 11th for Client Interaction and 12th for Benefits – numbers that hindered it from making up further ground on Goldman Sachs’ inherent prestige advantage.
Looking ahead, Loosvelt believes Evercore features the fundamentals necessary to continue its steady rise in the Banking 50. “Evercore was founded by two heavy hitters on Wall Street, one who came from Blackstone, another from BlackRock,” he shares. “These are very prestigious, connected, accomplished firms. Together, they’ve been able to create a firm that lands advisory deals that typically only the largest Wall Street players could land. Plus, the firm is smaller compared to the big players, meaning it has a gentler environment. You’re not just a number like you might be at a bulge bracket; at Evercore, you’ll probably get to interact with the founders and other top managers. So, the firm offers young banking professionals a chance to work on significant deals and get excellent senior banker contact in a congenial environment.”
Survey respondents echo Loosvelt’s optimism in Vault’s recent employee survey. They praise the firm for its “growth trajectory,” “exceptional deal flow,” and “unparalleled quality of life.” An entry level mergers & acquisitions staffer also lauds the firm for supplying interesting work and exposure to senior management, adding “I can’t think of a better place to begin a career.”
“THE NAVY SEALS OF M&A”
That’s not to say there aren’t drawbacks. Like most investment banks, heavy workloads and unpredictable hours are the norm, with the lack of a 401K match particularly galling to survey respondents. However, such snags are easily outweighed when staffers look at the bigger picture according to another M&A staffer. “Evercore has an excellent culture, by far the best on the street. In addition, you will be compensated materially higher than your friends at bulge brackets, even at the first-year analyst level.”
Respondents also cited Evercore’s low turnover rate, one grounded on an apprenticeship model where new talent is exposed to some of the industry’s best minds.”[We’re the] market leader with small teams working on the most important transactions,” explains one of the firm’s partners. “There is a reason why the best of Wall Street continues to come and work at Evercore.”
That reason is clear to one New York staffer: “If you join Evercore, you will join the Navy Seals of M&A entry level mergers and acquisitions.”
Metaphors aside, does Evercore have the abilty to overtake Goldman Sachs? Loosvelt doesn’t rule it out, but isn’t shy about listing the hurdles that Evercore will face in clawing to that last .06 of a point. “Goldman Sachs has a history and brand name and client relationships that are very tough to beat,” he admits. “It also provides so many more different types of products and operates across the world – it has a larger footprint. So its name recognition and ability to offer international opportunities are also hard to beat. That said, if Evercore keeps doing what it’s doing, landing large deals, and its name gets more widely recognized outside of financial circles, and it continues to offer a congenial working environment, sure, it could gain some ground on Goldman in prestige.”
To see 5 pages worth of ranking and satisfaction data on the Vault Banking 50 ranking, go to page 4.