Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images
For college graduates who want to make money and live in New York, landing a job at Goldman Sachs is a golden ticket. And getting hired by Goldman is even harder than getting into Harvard University.
“This week we have about 3,500 undergraduates starting their careers here,” CEO David Solomon said in an interview with NPR. “It’s 3,500 people out of more than 300,000 who applied for these jobs.”
What these new hires are sure to notice is that many of their colleagues are also young.
“Half our organization is in their twenties,” says Solomon, who moonlights as DJ D-Sol. Next week he will perform at Lollapalooza, alongside Dua Lipa, Doja Cat and Metallica. (Solomon notes that he will donate his performance fees to charity and that he also plans to meet clients in Chicago.)
Craig Barritt/Getty Images
Since becoming CEO of Goldman in 2018, Solomon has implemented some changes to the bank’s culture, including a relaxed dress code and more flexibility when it comes to taking vacation days.
But at the start of the pandemic, Solomon drew a line in the sand, and it didn’t budge: Solomon doesn’t want his employees to work from home, in pajamas, in perpetuity. He thinks they must be in the office.
“They come to work at Goldman Sachs so they can be trained, they can be mentored, they can learn, they can grow,” Solomon says. “And it just doesn’t happen at the same speed if they’re not there, sharing the experience with others.”
Banking analysts who closely monitor the bank’s performance say that as the business environment deteriorates, Goldman’s emphasis on in-person work is going to be an advantage, or at least a differentiator.
“Goldman’s culture is very important,” said Gerard Cassidy, managing director of banking equity research at RBC Capital Markets. “It’s an esprit de corps. It’s eating what you kill. And it works really well. But it really worked because everyone was in the office.”
This certainly ensures that Goldman employees, especially newer ones, gain a thorough understanding of the broader business. A wide range of clients around the world, from governments to corporations, institutions and individuals, seek the bank’s advice.
As CEO of the bank, Solomon sees the big picture of the global economy, and right now he sees a lot of uncertainty.
The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates aggressively to combat high inflation, and while internal economists at Goldman are betting there’s a 50% chance of a recession in the next two years, Solomon fears the odds are worse.
“That doesn’t concern me, but I think the risk of a recession in the next 24 months is high,” he says.
Goldman Sachs is taking steps to prepare for a deeper economic downturn. When it reported its second-quarter results on Monday, it said it had set aside $667 million to cover potential losses, and the company’s chief financial officer said the bank planned to “slow down hiring.”
Mike Mayo, banking analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, says the current market environment is particularly challenging for Wall Street banks. This year, he notes, “we are experiencing the biggest decline in stocks and bonds in more than 50 years.”
But according to Mayo, Goldman is able to move with agility when circumstances change. “Goldman Sachs is the antithesis of the oil tanker analogy,” he says.
This week, Solomon is headlining the 10,000 Small Business Summit in Washington. In response to a recent survey conducted by Goldman Sachs, 93% of small business owners who responded said they were worried about a recession next year.
Solomon says being nimble and flexible will be key for all businesses in the coming months, including his own.
He says what he admires most about the small business owners he will speak to is their optimism in the face of economic uncertainty.
“They’re optimistic. They work hard. They’re ambitious,” he says. “They are fiercely independent in what they do.”
Spencer Platt/Getty Images