This fall, in a basement at Goldman Sachs, around 100 men and women will be inducted into an exclusive society. Membership will mean they'll make metric ass-tons of money. They'll get "investment opportunities not offered to other employees" (first dibs on client front-running, etc). They'll be able to put in requests for "fashionable tables at New York restaurants" and hookers who are fine with the wearing of a Scream mask while being done from behind. They'll be partners at Goldman Sachs. To commemorate this event, and for the practical purpose of tagging them so their status at the firm can be quickly verified with one quick drop of trou, these newly-made partners will have their nether regions dipped in a vat of gold, which will harden while Lloyd Blankfein gives a speech about how to carry oneself differently once they reach the upper echelons of GS (literally, as those things will drag if you're not careful).
At the same time, another group of Goldman employees will be put on a bus and taken upstate. "Where are we going," someone will ask. "Is this some sort of field-trip," the dimmer ones will wonder excitedly. It'll be in a warehouse in Buffalo, where no one can hear them scream that the head of HR will come out of the shadows, wearing an executioner's mask and swinging massive clippers. The slowest of the bunch will still think they're in for a treat, this setting being reminiscent of the partner's retreat in '03. The rest will know.
As many as 60 Goldman executives could be stripped of their partnerships this year to make way for new blood, people with firsthand knowledge of the process say. Inside the firm, the process is known as “de-partnering.”
The actual process of "de-partnering" is just as bad as it sounds (and make certain, it will leave a mark). But the physical pain is nothing compared to the mental anguish and shame the de-balled have to look forward to, should they choose to say with GS.
Goldman does not disclose who is no longer a partner, and many move on to jobs elsewhere; some stay, telling few of their fate. “I have friends who have been de-partnered who are still there, and most people inside think they are still partners,” said one former Goldman executive, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. “It is something you just don’t talk about.” It can take years to make partner, and being pushed from the inner circle can be wrenching.
“Being partner at Goldman is the pinnacle of Wall Street; if you make it, you are considered set for life,” said Michael Driscoll, a visiting professor at Adelphi University and a senior managing director at Bear Stearns before that firm collapsed in 2008. “To have it taken away would just be devastating to an individual. There is just no other word for it.”