Banks, News

Goldman Sachs Now Paying Employees For A Full Year Of Work

I know I’ve said that the Jamie & Doug in the Morning Show is the best call-in program in finance, given Jamie Dimon’s reliably amusing anti-regulation rant, but the true connoisseur should also really get a kick out of David Viniar’s calmer, wonkier, more NPR-appropriate chat. I certainly do. We’ll maybe have more to say about it later.

My enjoyment is, however, complicated by the fact that at this time of year I feel certain feelings. Specifically, feelings about Goldman Sachs comp, which will be terrible, horrible, down 115%, whatever, and yet … still … somehow … I want it. Have we talked about this before? Sometimes I miss investment banking. A thing that some people not in the industry don’t know about investment banking is that it is an awesome job, in the specific sense that many people would do it for free, or even pay money to do it, and in the even more specific sense that sometimes they do. (For, um, fairly loose definitions of “pay money.”) This happened twice during my time at Goldman. Let’s all luxuriate in a chart:

And I tell you what: when January 2009 and 2010 rolled around, and I found out that I’d been paying Goldman to work there for the last three months, I was like, “yeah, that seems right. It’d be cheap at twice the price.”

More generally you can speculate why comp accruals are so much lower in the fourth quarter than any other time of year – the answer does not, btw, appear to be “because revenues are lower” or anything dull like that, since they’re not especially, with 2008 as an important exception – and come up with explanations like “you encourage employees to stick around for 9 months by accruing at a better rate than you’ll actually pay, and then hose ’em at the last minute,” or “the PR hit of a mid-year kajillion-dollarcomp accrual isn’t that big since you didn’t actually pay anything and since people can’t annualize numbers, while the PR benefit of a fourth-quarter rollback is a bit of a plus.” So, maybe. In any case, I’m not sure you’d take the 4Q2011 accrual – which is not only positive, it’s bigger than Q3, and almost the same as 4Q2010 despite the lower headcount – as an unambiguously good sign. Maybe it means that comp is moving to a broadly smoother and less market-driven path. Maybe it means that banking at Goldman is no longer as awesome as it used to be. Some people think so.

I don’t know what else to say about GS comp. It’s down (both on headcount reduction and reduced pay per head), it’s still higher than JPM by more than enough to buy your own plant if that’s your thing, it’s still a bigger number than some other numbers and a smaller number than some other other numbers. Fin.

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101 Responses to “Goldman Sachs Now Paying Employees For A Full Year Of Work”

  1. Guest of a Guest says:

    You suck Matt, go find another career.

  2. @GSElevator says:

    I'm not tweeting one syllable until the money is in my checking account!

  3. Guestivus says:

    Levine reminds me of Uncle Rico: If coach woulda put me in the 4th quarter we'd have been State Champs, no doubt…I'd be making millions of dollars…be living in a big old mansion somewhere

  4. Guest says:

    It’d be cheap at twice the price.'*

    Matty, when you put an asterisk in your article, there needs to be another one somewhere. This especially becomes relevant when your poor readers have to scroll down through your articles for 5 minutes just to find nothing at the bottom.

    – Matt's 3rd Grade Teacher

  5. guest says:

    I want to hear Jamie Dimon's anti moral hazard bank bailout rant.

    Dimon is scum.

  6. Hogwallup says:

    Take off your pants, its about to get real.

  7. marktomarket says:

    Is it just me, or is Matt getting better? Tags, length, and subject matter — it's almost like Bess is editing before his posts hit the site.

    –Equities in Dallas

  8. Avid Reader says:

    Rising to the challenge, Matt! Great retro stuff on CDO risk blenders too.

  9. early_hominid says:

    no footnotes?

  10. Things Your MD Says says:

    Absolutely no axis or title labels on that graph. No wonder you had to pay to work for me.

  11. Steve says:

    This was manageable

  12. maximum decimus says:

    gap width on chart is off. skews mapping of bars to quarters. now i understand.

  13. FKApmco says:

    Oh Matty, my sweet little butterfly. This isn't complicated, it's just math. In Qs 1, 2 and 3 banks accrue comp based on what they think their annual comp rate will be. Math is: projected annual revenues x comp rate / 4. And then they get to Q4 and look at YTD revenues, what competitors are doing etc and figure out how little they can pay everyone and adjust the annual comp rate down = lower comp rate in Q4. Simple as that.

  14. Put_Option says:

    Lots of hostility towards Matt today. I see a lot of the usual suspects saying the usual insults;

    – Learn Grammar/Spelling signed Matt's token elementary school teacher
    – Nice work signed by Matt's Mom
    – Some sexual innuendo regarding Matt and Bess
    – Matt is boring
    – UBS sucks

    Matt takes all these to heart. You guys really nailed him. I'm sure after making lucid commentary about the financial sector and spending time in the only city that matters, he goes home and cries himself to sleep knowing that somewhere in the world an obese, 1st year analyst–with mustard stains on his shirt, who can't even get a pitchbook right, at a 'boutique' bank in Cleveland–doesn't like him

  15. Guest says:

    I would like to report all the posts in this commentary section.

  16. lol wut says:

    These comments are getting as bad as the Ball don't lie column on Yahoo

  17. Guest says:

    since when is equity capital markets "investment banking"?

  18. CSM says:

    Dude you could always go back to finance. Your resume is still one of the most ridiculous I've seen (though still not as amazing as Joyce Meng's).

  19. You bee as says:

    I wish comp was only down 115%

    UBS MD

  20. McLovin' says:

    This article blows.

    Fake ID, Chicca YEA.

  21. Pat B says:

    Why does everybody keep on bashing Matt? He just has it. That Yale thing

  22. InfiniteGrouch says:

    Like anyone who ever worked at Goldman, McKinsey or Google, this yahoo can't seem to finish five words without reminding us of "When I worked at Goldman" in another five.

    Go suck on a pickle – you work for a cut rate dimestore trade rag!

  23. Guest says:


    Bravo. Fin.

  24. MangoBanker91 says:

    The lower comp and obviously the writing style is maybe why Goldman is losing its business to other firms. One area where they have been beat are major tech IPOs. I really hope they are not slipping up, but the comp being down 115% makes people think that they have started slipping. Do you think so as well? There is a discussion on here regarding it here,….

    Any opinions?

    -Finance Student at Cal

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