Goldman Sachs SLC IBD Overview
Over the past few years I have noticed a notable amount of misinformation related to the GS SLC IBD program on this site. Given the amount of recruiting momentum (currently ~100 front office bankers in SLC and new classes of ~40 analysts each year), I wanted to create this detailed post and answer any questions so that people who are researching / considering this program have a credible source that will help in their decision-making process.
I will intentionally keep my background anonymous, hence the burner account, but would note that I personally have been in this program for multiple years and the information in this post is either first-hand from my own experience or directly from my colleagues. Warning that this is going to be a long post as I want to lay out each facet in detail. TROLLS should hit the back button now – this post is not for you! I fail to understand why others would want to throw MS on someone trying to hustle and improve their situation, but I'm sure they'll still appear regardless. Anyways - here we go!
The GS SLC IBD program is a collection of IBD analyst positions located in SLC, with spots in all of the classic and financing groups in GS IBD (TMT, FIG, Healthcare, ECM, Lev Fin, etc.). While there are back office IBD positions in SLC (DRG and operations) this program specifically is FRONT OFFICE and they do the same work as GS analysts on the ground in NY (more on this below). The aim of the program is for an analyst to work for about a year and a half and then move to the NY or SF office as a full-time analyst there. The program was created three years ago out of the Salt Lake City office with about 5-10 analysts, and as mentioned above is now quite a bit larger (the fourth annual class of analysts launched in July).
From an unbiased perspective, I will say that this program is an amazing opportunity for someone who may not be able to go straight to a BB NY analyst role. If you are choosing between GS SLC IBD and BB NY, you're likely to have an overall better experience going for the NY BB job. If you're deciding between a middle market banking role in NY (or something comparable) and GS SLC IBD, you can make a pretty strong argument that the latter will better position your future career for success. There are some drawbacks to the GS SLC program which I lay out below in detail, but the main reason to pursue this program is that given some hard work you can end up in NY as a GS IBD analyst, which is a position that comes with a significant amount of attractive future opps (both externally and internally).
Recruiting for GS SLC IBD
A notable difference between recruiting for this program and standard NY banking programs is that you are much more likely to get a shot here if you do not have a prior BB banking internship. Up to this point, a majority of the analysts hired have been either non-target grads with some type of finance experience (something like banking at a small shop, equity research, asset management, etc.) or GS internal hires who have proven they are strong, but have limited applicable finance experience.
Over the last year, the internship program feeding to SLC IBD has ramped up quite a bit (~10 interns in summer '17, ~20 interns for summer '18). The intern classes are growing, but I expect that there will still be a significant number of spots open for those fitting the profiles described above who didn't intern with SLC IBD.
Full time recruiting
There have been a handful of kids from targets starting full-time recently, but for the most part, these are people who got into finance too late to seriously recruit for NY BB banking. The full-time recruiting has mainly been done around fall (Aug and Sep), but given the recent shifting timelines in the industry who knows how long that will stay at that time for. The best advice I can give for getting into this program is to network as much as you can with the SLC analysts. They have direct access to the SLC managers / HCM, which will usually result in an interview if they are pulling hard for you. Also, most SLC analysts had to hustle to get where they are, so as a whole I think are more likely to give back in terms of networking when they're able to, so don't be shy to reach out.
Training and Staffing
The new analyst classes start in July with a one-week training in SLC. This training is for the new class to get to know each other and also for those with very limited finance/accounting knowledge to get their feet wet before the full training. After that week, the SLC analysts head to NY to go through the full five-week training program with the rest of the global GS analysts and associates (all new junior bankers from SF, Europe, Asia, etc.). Once the training program / series tests are done, the SLC analysts start their first of many short-term assignments (STAs). This means that they will stay in NY for the first five weeks while actually on the desk in order to build relationships with teams in NY that they will be working with. After that five-week period, they will return to SLC to work remotely from that office.
From a staffing perspective, initially the teams are likely to be more client service focused and less technical given the limited prior banking experience of most analysts. Once the analyst has proven themselves (can be anywhere from one to four months), they are likely to be added to live deals with a second-year analyst to work with. Usually, around the six to nine-month mark, you will start to be the sole analyst on CS and live teams. There are many exceptions to this timeline, and a lot of the time comes down to who in the group has capacity to take on new teams (e.g., I was staffed on a live sellside about a month into the job to cover for a second year who was on vacation, and I ended up staying on that team and continuing to run with the model).
Being added as a second analyst on a deal
It is worth noting that a lot of the time you are added as a second analyst on a deal, it is because it is a large or high-profile client with plenty of work to do, which can give you great exposure to cool names (think deals like Amazon / Whole Foods, Spotify, etc). As an analyst, you will likely have three different five-week STAs to NY before you convert full time - one directly after training, one about six months later, the other about six months after that. Again, the purpose of these trips is to continue strengthening relationships (and they are very helpful in pushing along the process of moving to NY full-time).
The content of the work being done in SLC and the hours are the same as NY. Diligence trackers for live deals, merger/RMT/LBO/DCF models, client service decks, endless client calls, etc etc. The biggest obvious difference is that instead of sitting next to your associates and VPs, you'll be a few thousand miles away and forced to communicate through call/email/IM. This can create challenges at times and makes some things harder, but for the most part, can be pretty well overcome by someone who is willing to put in a little effort to stay plugged in and have a good attitude.
Comparison to a NY analyst
At a high level, you learn more quickly sitting in NY due to things like going to the MD's office for a sit down (vs dialing in from SLC) or sitting with an associate to review a model (vs doing over the phone). If you work hard you can mitigate a lot of these things, but to a certain extent your opportunities over the first year of the job will be very slightly more limited than someone else who started in your class in NY. I would say that after 15-18 months, you will have enough reps that this difference in skill set with an NY analyst will normalize and there isn't much difference vs. that same person. It's tough asking questions when you're in SLC and the rest of your group is in NY, but now the SLC program has gotten so big that there are a lot of second-year analysts there which will be really helpful in answering those questions and helping you along.
How you are treated
On a separate note, most internal people that you work with will treat you like a standard NY analyst, but there are a handful of people who will differentiate you as a lesser "SLC analyst". This group of people thinks that if you didn't have a traditional ivy league path, then you're not as good as others (no respect for the non-target hustle with these people!!). This can be frustrating and painful at times, but as you work in a group and prove yourself, this tends to wear off. For those select few who it doesn't wear off with, you will continue to have more say over your staffing as you are there longer and can specifically request to not work with anyone who is a dick about it.
Pros to working remotely
Those are the major cons, but there are definite pros to working remotely that shouldn't be overlooked, here are a few. First off, in SLC you are surrounded only by analysts, whereas NY it is a mix of associates/VPs/MDs walking around. Given the nature of the junior population, it is exponentially more laid back and less formal in SLC and is a really positive and enjoyable working environment. Most classes create a really strong bond together and enjoy working in SLC. Second, if a deliverable gets messed up, you're much less likely to get yelled at than the analyst/associate sitting in NY, which removes a lot of the inevitably nasty part of the job. Lastly, you have much more control over facetime and working flexibility. As long as you are staying on top of your teams, it is much easier to sneak away to the gym or leave the office and finish the night from home.
Conversion to NY
As mentioned, the goal is for analysts to convert to NY at about the 18-month mark. Leading up to that, there should be multiple conversations both with the staffer in NY and your manager in SLC which will help you understand if you are on track to hit that. Broadly speaking, almost everyone who has worked hard and wanted to convert over has done it. The people who haven't moved over fall into categories such as: recruited to a different job before that point (PE, Corp dev, family office), a few unlucky situations regarding headcount or NY groups not being as supportive as they should have, or sub-par performance. I want to be clear though that overall the management would be thrilled if 100% of people converted. Outside of a major economic downturn (which would impact everyone not just SLC), there are definitely spots to convert for as many people start in the program. Once in NY, most of the people who viewed you as an "SLC analyst" will normalize and treat you normally.
The biggest downside of this program
One other major thing to note, which is probably the overall biggest downside of this program, is that when you convert to NY you step back in tenure one year. So, if you convert to NY at 18 months, you will lose a year and be grouped for promotions and comp with the NY analyst class behind you that started 6 months ago. There have been exceptions to this, but these exceptions are mainly GS internal hires who already lost some tenure making the move into the program. GS officially states that the purpose of doing this is to set up individuals for future success – e.g., if you move over and stay in your same class, you're more likely to be bucketed in the bottom half of your class due to the nature of being in SLC. But if you move back a class, it's more likely that you'll be ranked toward the top of your class, which will set you up well for promotions and comp bucketing moving forward.
Recruiting for PE or HF
If you are planning on recruiting for PE or a hedge fund after moving to NY (which is most people who do banking overall), then this really shouldn't affect you much. If you do plan to be in banking longer term, this is a point where you can get hung up on, but my personal opinion is that you shouldn't. As mentioned before, most recruits to this program are non-target kids who likely would have had a challenging time recruiting for a great NY BB banking job. If you compare the path of doing GS IBD SLC including a year step-back vs whatever other options are on the table, there is a 95% chance that the GS name / experience will lead to better future opportunities, whether it be within GS or external (my opinion here, but it is an opinion that has been formed over multiple years of first-hand experience). Yes, it sucks to lose that year of seniority, but in the lens of a full career, it is a drop in the bucket which allows you to work in the most competitive group at what a lot of people consider the most competitive bank on the Street.
I mentioned before that during your initial period you are likely to be added as a second analyst to larger teams. One other important point to make is that if you convert to NY and decide to stay in banking, it is likely that you will stay on those larger teams and will be the main analyst, as the other analyst will have surely left the firm by that point. This is great positioning to play a key role moving forward for work on important / big-name clients (exposure to these clients is another one of the major benefits of being somewhere like GS).
SLC Life and Comp
As you're likely to already know, there are many differences of living in SLC vs. NY, some good and some bad depending on your perspective and preferences. If you are an outdoor person at all, there are amazing things to do outdoors in each season (hiking, boating, biking, some of the best skiing in the world, golfing, etc.). Downtown SLC has a decent amount of options in terms of good foodie restaurants. The nightlife is MUCH smaller than NY, but there are still some good bars to go to and a lot of house parties with other GS employees who are also not from SLC. Comp is less than NY, but expenses are also significantly less. All-in with a normal situation, you're likely to have about the same amount of money in your pocket after taxes and living expenses compared to NY. When you move to NY, your comp will be aligned to the standard comp of whatever class you are bucketed with.
Since the program began, a number of analysts have left for both buyside and corporate roles (among other things). Many have recruited directly from SLC and some have waited until going to NY to recruit. Whether in SLC or NY, one of the main determinants in successfully landing a job is a solid deal experience. As mentioned above, there is a period in which the SLC analysts have to prove themselves a little more than someone in NY.
Buyside exit op
If you are interested in getting a buyside job out of this program, it is imperative that you work hard to quickly gain your teams/staffers trust so that they are comfortable letting you drive meaningful workstreams on live deals (which will end up being a large chunk of your interviews when leaving banking). If you feel like you have the group's trust but aren't on deals where you are getting to run with things like that, it is up to you to be aggressive with the staffer and get something good to work on.
You will be fine when recruiting externally if...
The general consensus of recruiting externally from this program is that you will be fine as long as you
1) tell a good story as to why you started in SLC,
2) make it clear that the work you did is the same as someone in NY, and
3) that you can intelligently talk about deals that you've contributed to.
There have been a few places (headhunters / PE shops) where they were hung up on SLC not being the same experience as NY and it was a non-starter for them, but the overwhelming were treated like any other NY analyst. If your goal is to get to a good PE / HF shop / Corp dev role, it's my opinion that the most effective way to do it is to convert to NY and recruit once on the ground there. For most people, you will move to NY around January (18 months in), which gives plenty of time to recruit for a summer job six months out. There have been a few analysts who recruited further out once getting to NY (i.e., doing three years of banking instead of the classic two). Normally once you hit the two-year mark in GS IBD you will be promoted to Associate, but if you move from SLC, that will not happen for an additional year per the step-back mentioned earlier. Specifically, as it applies to external recruiting, this delay is actually a huge advantage as a number of headhunters won't consider you for buyside jobs if your title is Associate.
If you want to stay in banking
Changing gears, if banking is your passion and you want to stick around, the door is absolutely open to do that. As you all know, GS, and all banks, are having a hard time retaining analyst talent, so if you are good and want to stick around, they will work with you to try to keep you happy. The most likely move from SLC is to move to NY with the same group you've worked with up to that point. From there, after 6-12 months the firm will likely be open to you moving groups or geographies. If you do stick around, most of the people you started with will be gone, so you will actually be in a pretty good spot in terms of your knowledge/skill set compared to the analysts who started after you. I personally think that banking is a tough job and would be hard to sustain long-term if you want a good life outside of work, but if banking is what you want, you can start in SLC and then have a long career at GS doing a lot of very interesting things.
Yes, there are drawbacks to the GS SLC IBD program, and yes, I agree it is not exactly the same as NY BB banking, BUT the upside of this program is 100x stronger than any downsides it holds. This is something that can set the trajectory of your career on an amazing path if used correctly. Hopefully, this is helpful for anyone who is looking for more detail on this program. I'd be happy to elaborate on any specifics if anyone has additional questions.