At least five of the 13 first-year employees at Goldman Sachs whose leaked PowerPoint presentation called out brutal 105-hour workweeks and an “abusive” atmosphere have left the bank, according to a report.
The slide deck that ricocheted around social media in March led to something of a come-to-Jesus moment for Goldman and other investment banks: In Goldman’s case, CEO David Solomon in August boosted starting salaries from $85,000 to $110,000. Goldman and other peers promised a better work-life balance.
But those pledges to change apparently didn’t cut it for at least five of the junior bankers who wrote the 11-page presentation on company letterhead. A banker who said her treatment at the bank was worse than being raised in foster care was one of the people who left, according to the New York Magazine report.
And of the five people who have left since the slides surfaced publicly, four were women of color, according to the report — a potentially disturbing development for big bank leaders who have made diversity promises.
The nearly 30 percent bump in base salary didn’t make things any better — not even when considering annual bonuses, which can double a junior banker’s take-home pay.
One of the women who left for a job outside of finance told the magazine of the raise: “When I thought about it bigger-picture — How much difference does it really make in your life? — I decided that my happiness was worth more than a few hundred thousand extra dollars.”
Besides, she said: Had she stayed, she would’ve just climbed the ladder and eventually would have had to “inflict the same pain” on the next generation of junior bankers.
Still, analysts are reaping the benefits of the viral presentation.
The reverberations from the slideshow were felt across the financial industry. Other big firms, like JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, said they’d boost first-year pay to $100,000, while boutique investment bank Evercore put first-year salaries all the way up to $120,000.
But even though Goldman eventually raised junior bankers’ salaries, they were the last major firm to do so — taking their sweet time until August to match the pay raises other banks were handing out. In the months before the raise, anger directed at Goldman’s management team reached a fever pitch.
“We were still being worked like crazy,” one former analyst said. “Nothing changed internally. All of our friends are getting money, and we’re getting promises of a better work life two months down the line.”
“It just felt amplified. The level of animosity toward the employer felt really pronounced, and very dysfunctional,” this employee added “There was real anger, a real sense of unfairness, and a bit of an attitude like, I just don’t give a f— anymore. That was just kind of shocking to hear that tone — kind of dark, honestly.”
Even though Goldman eventually hiked pay, at least one former executive said Solomon likely wasn’t happy about bending to the wishes of analysts. “I’m sure David increased the salaries totally against his desires,” the former exec told New York Magazine. “If you can suppress an insurrection for small dollars, I think you just do it, even though no one loves it.”
Banks weren’t just forced to raise salaries. After complaints from the slideshow spilled onto social media, banks including Goldman and JPMorgan vowed to hire more staff to help with the workload. Private equity firm Apollo Global Management has reportedly offered some associates as much as $200,000 to stick around.
The leaked slides, which were unauthorized by Goldman leaders, but were on Goldman letterhead, included quotes from the San Francisco-based analysts who moaned about shifts as long as 20 hours that left them little time to eat, sleep or shower. They said the grind damaged their physical and mental health.
Elsewhere, Citibank CEO Jane Fraser told employees she was banning Zoom meetings on Fridays to address Zoom fatigue. Investment bank Jefferies even offered its junior staff the primo Peloton bike as a “thank you” for working long hours.
In September, Bloomberg reported one of the bankers behind the presentation was the son of the vice chairman at TPG Capital, the $108 billion private equity fund where his father is vice chairman and is known for hard-driving leveraged buyouts. It’s unclear whether Joey Coslet, the young banker with a princely background, is still at Goldman Sachs.
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