What is it like to be a partner at Goldman Sachs?
mod note (Andy): this is a syndication from quora.com
From "anon user"
I was recruited to another bank from. My reason for leaving was basically the title and compensation offered by a competitor of . It is a European bank that has been establishing a foothold in the US the past 10 years, and offered me the equivalent of "Partner" in (They use, or at least used, different terminology).
I still stay in touch, and socialize, with a few colleagues from, 2 of whom are now MDs/Partners.
i) Decent compensation. Though, I am at this point somewhat desensitized to it. I was in a genuinely celebratory mood only twice -- when I had my first 7 figure pay day, and again, when I had my first 8 figure pay day a few years later. I was ecstatic both times, leaving tips I somewhat regretted the next day. It may sound strange to some here, but these days when I find out what my bonus will be, I think, "That's all?". My unit has almost never lost money for the company so if you knew how much business I bring in, you would understand why I'm not going to bow on my knees in thanks for the compensation they give me.
ii) Access. I meet with and have a line to dignitaries from countries all over the world as well as top executives from Global Fortune 1000 companies. I know what central bank changes will occur in second tier countries before they do, though this is privileged information, and has never been revealed to thedesk.
iii) Status. When I cared about things like this, it felt very good to know you had things like your pick of women, preferential treatment most places you went, etc. All because "He works in banking".
i) No real personal life. I am once divorced and it was not fun, nor cheap. A lot of people in banking are on their second or third marriage. Some, though, are still happily married, or as happily as the work allows.
ii) Stress. If you have a good year, you're under pressure to make the next one even better. If you have a bad year, you're under pressure to make the next one make up for the one before it. Its a lose-lose in this sense.
iii) Bad public image. Don't get me wrong, if I really cared, I would not have stayed in the business. But between being made into a devil for the meltdown, and the stereotypes of patronizing prostitutes, narcotics use, etc., it burns me up sometimes how people can think these things. My unit didn't sell any subprime securities, and I've never paid for sex nor used narcotics in my life.
I know people like to hear about toys, etc. but truthfully, not everybody splurges. My company car is an S550 MB, and my personal cars are a Subaru Outback and a Porsche 997 Turbo. I bought the Porsche used, and paid cash for both.
A house in Amagansett (not oceanfront), a 2br condo in Tribeca, and what amounts to a shack on an 87-acre pineapple farm in Hawaii is all the real estate I own. I have a mortgage on the house, and own the other two properties outright.
I have enough miles on my frequent flier card to take more trips than I have time for, and enough points on my 2 hotel rewards credit cards to stay what amounts to an indefinite amount of time in any tier hotel owned by their co-issuers.
There are no kids of my own in my life but I spoil my sister's kids rotten.
I give 10% of my earnings every year to charity. Not to a religious organization, and not because my membership in one forces me to.
I vote republican but rarely actually like the candidate. I give to Democrats only in my state (NY).
When it comes to promotions, I feel there is a clear bias towards members of the same ethnicity/religion if your boss and perhaps bosses' boss share that heritage. You don't however use that as an excuse for not getting ahead. To be clear, I am talking about one ethnic/religious group in particular, and not in general.
I am adding to the question a comment from Jeff Kesselman, along with my response to him for those that might miss it. It took a while to write and I feel it would be wasted otherwise.
Jeff Kesselman wrote:
"And this is why people react the way they do....
Your post frankly wreaks of smugness and a sense of entitlement.
Let me tell you what I see...
You make NOTHING. You create NOTHING. You shuffle numbers around and for that think you somehow deserve the lions share of what society has to offer.
Oh and "I give 10% to charity" doesn't impress me at all. I think most of us would gladly give 50% of what you make and be thankful for it."
At this point I somewhat regret answering the question.
Why I even bother to respond to you right now, I don't know, since it seems like you have preconceived notions about the occupation and are not interested in changing them.
I don't see anything that I posted that can be interpreted as smug, or that casts a sense of entitlement upon me. I was giving a frank and no nonsense insight into my life.
The activities of my unit were never discussed so I have no idea how you feign to know or understand what I do or create.
I have worked with entrepreneurs and fast growing companies to give them access to the capital markets so that they can grow. I have worked with governments to arrange bond issues so that they can build badly needed infrastructure.
Working in those 2 different units, I've provided companies and governments the access to capital they so desperately need, that they could get virtually nowhere else, on extremely reasonable terms.
What we essentially have done is repeatedly staked our reputation, my own and the firm's, to allow these entities, who could not have raised capital otherwise, to do so.
No one would lend to Thailand to build infrastructure even though their sovereign wealth fund had ample collateral. When they tried to arrange an issue through smaller banks, the interest they would have to pay throughout the life of the bond would have essentially made them pay 4 dollars for every borrowed dollar in the long term. We step in, and now investors will take the bonds with a coupon paying 800 basis points less than originally planned, just because we're backing the issue.
In another case, a private company with the potential to grow over 500% per year is only growing at just about 100% YOY. Why? Because the founder has to deal with bonehead commercial bankers that want him to personally guarantee a relatively small syndicated loan, effectively asking him to pledge all his liquid assets, as well as his personal residence as collateral. This loan would still not allow the company to reach its full potential growth. We see this company's potential, and even though the fees we'd collect as bookrunner for this issue would be incredibly modest. We raise about $40MM, giving the company a market cap of approximately $100MM. It's market cap is now just over $3B. The company went from employing just over 80 people to over 600.
I don't think I deserve anything. I do not set our fees. If the client did not feel we provided a service worth those fees, they would not hire us. There are other banks in the same as well as lower tiers that charge less, and those that charge more. People are free to shop around. We really don't get the lions share of anything -- our fees for underwriting the offering was about $3M give or take. That's not what I personally made, that's what the entire firm made. On the other hand, anyone who had stock in that company has seen it appreciate in value to the tune of 3000% since the offering.
I don't give to causes that are important to me to impress you, I could not care less what you think. In fact, the only person who knows I give anything is my CPA. Actually, my parents and sister know as well, because they have suggested worthy recipients to me over the years.
And though I don't give 50%, I do have just about that portion of my income taken from me by the tax collecting troika (NYC, NY State, US Federal Govt) -- 48%. Then you can factor in all the kids I send to school on my RE taxes alone.
I will not be posting any more responses to comments similar to yours, and in all likelihood not to any other questions or comments. I am disappointed that my first experience actually participating on Quora as opposed to just browsing answered questions has turned out to be such a negative and unrewarding one.
Answer #2 by another anon user:
I am going to keep this short and sweet.
My Title: Partner Managing Director
Time served: I have been with Goldman now for 17 years. I have been a partner for eight years.
Compensation: I have seen the good times and the bad. I used to take home a lot more money but now I make 5-6 mil annually (including bonus) not a small chunk of change by any stretch but when the market was roaring before the mortgage meltdown the take home pay was far greater.
My hours: I work about 55 hours a week. I have many others to do my grunt work.
What I do? Make sure my unit continues generating revenue for the firm. I travel to seek out new business, work my contacts, etc.
My life: I have a wife, two kids, live in Greenwich, have couple of cars and bells and whistles.
Stress: The stress is incredible. The money is great but the mental and physical toll it takes on your body over the years isn't (putting on weight, grey hairs, not being able to watch all my kids soccer games, going to recitals, less time with family, arguments at home, etc)
11-21-12 Edits below: Let me address some of the comments. I am used to being on the hot seat, so those individuals who want to take pot shots at me for working atI am not phased. I have provided my experience and how I conduct myself. helps many companies (public and private), clients, and countries in many facets, but that was not the question.
Regarding my hours, I work 55 hours a week currently. As I was climbing the ranks it was 60-80 hours a week was the norm as still is.
Why I still do it? What keeps me motivated? I am damn good at what I do, the people, and I enjoy it. The people that I work with keep me motivated. Without them I am nothing and they teach me new things on a daily basis which I am grateful for. I empower them to make decisions, lead by example, and surround themselves with individuals who do not adhere to the status quo.
I am grooming many of them to be leaders be it in this organization or elsewhere and I want them to surpass what I have done. It is exciting for me to see them grow as many have been with me for a number of years.
Why dont I retire? So what, I can stay at home and argue with my wife?...(sarcasm).
What will I do once I leave? I do some philanthropic work now, so when I leave the finance world for good, I will devote all my time helping a few non-profits.