Goldman Sachs is considering whether to raise salaries for junior investment bankers to compete with rivals on Wall Street, as younger staffers have complained of experiencing burnout from long hours worked during the pandemic, when financial markets were exceptionally busy.
Investment banks have traditionally given out hefty performance-based bonuses, but several U.S. banks have shifted strategy after a grueling pandemic trading period.
According to the Financial Times, some involved in the internal Goldman debate are concerned about possibly moving away from paying workers based on their performance, while others are worried about losing young talent to other big banks or the tech industry.
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Citigroup was the latest to bump fixed salaries for first-year investment banking analysist by $25,000, taking their annual income to $100,000 not including bonuses. It followed similar moves in June by JPMorgan Chase and Barclays, which lifted base pay to $100,000 from $85,000. Bank of America and Wells Fargo also both gave their first-year analysts a $10,000 raise earlier this year.
Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have not, however, followed the competition.
Addressing staffers in a series of conference calls, James Esposito and Dan Dees, co-heads of the investment banking division at Goldman Sachs, have said they are monitoring salary moves by rivals and are aware of the long hours that employees worked during the pandemic, the Financial Times reported.
Esposito and Dees also promised younger staffers they would be rewarded generously amid the bank’s surging earnings – but did not directly clarify any base salary bump. Salary for first-year analysts and associates at Goldman runs out at the end of July, and any updated earnings will come in August.
According to Wall Street Oasis, Goldman first-year analysts and associates already make less than the average compared to others on Wall Street. Goldman pays first-years an average of under $86,000 in salary, with a $37,500 bonus – compared to the Wall Street average of $91,400, with a $39,700 bonus.
Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon has already deviated from competing banks that have allowed a more flexible work week in the post-pandemic era, instead insisting on a return to the office, describing working from home as "an aberration that we’re going to correct as soon as possible."
Citigroup and UBS have greenlighted a hybrid back-to-work model, while Goldman, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan have taken a more hardline stance on employees returning to Manhattan offices.