Goldman Sachs SSG (Special Situations Group)

Underwood's picture
Rank: Chimp | banana points 9

SSG seems like the most elite but opaque group at GS. Does anyone have any information about it?

I worked at a top BB IBD last summer and am wondering if I have a shot here. How do they recruit? Somebody told me they only take 1-2 kids a year and are even more selective than GS TMT or Blackstone PE. I'd appreciate any insight into how this group operates or looks for candidates.

Goldman Sachs Special Situations Group

SSG is a group that sits within the Securities Division of Goldman Sachs but operates independently.

Goldman Sachs describes the group in the following way:

SSG is a global, multi-asset class business, specializing in principal investing and lending in all levels of capital structures on a risk-adjusted return basis. SSG is the primary center for Goldman Sachs' middle-market financing and investing activity. The group lends and invests Goldman's capital directly to mid-sized companies.

@thenerdyguy shared that there are four internal groups within GS SSG:

thenerdyguy:
  1. Multi-Strategy Investing - Investing in both public equity and debt
  2. Private Capital Investing - Early state investing, along the lines of late stage VC type work
  3. Asset Investing - Investing in senior securitized debt with claims on some sort of physical asset
  4. Alternative Energy - Investing in energy across the capital structure

GS SSG Interviews

Users explained the process to get into the group below:

@APAE shared:

APAE - Private Equity Partner:

It is competitive to get an interview, and if you get an interview you certainly need to know your stuff. They take very few undergrads, correct, but that's not because it's the single most prestigious thing under the sun. The simple fact of the matter is that undergrads often have little value to add, and in a group that lean, the logic is "why up the headcount?"

However, the group has been hampered by regulation since the crisis. Its reach is much more limited. Investments were often small, in weird assets, and that exits were limited given how unusual the experience is. I don't personally know anyone who's exited the group so I can't speak to what the exits are like, but the short story is that it isn't as much like working for a distressed hedge fund as it is working for a catch-all group that invests in whatever weird stuff gets by the regulation.

cob92:

Questions were a mix of basic IBD questions, with a few geared toward deciding how you would invest in a company. For example, I was asked what factors I would look for if I wanted to invest and gain steady returns year-over-year, why EBITDA vs revenue, walk through DCF, financial statements, what's in an investment memo, etc.

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Comments (96)

Oct 5, 2013

Sorry to disappoint but I've heard it's almost impossible to get into GS SSG. Much tougher than any IBD group (including GS TMT). You have to realize that this is essentially a buy-side exit-opp for top IBD analysts and HBS grads, so assuming you're an undergrad, this is going to be an uphill climb. Unless your resume is really impressive (I mean really impressive - summa cum laude status), it's probably not even worth trying to network in. Ken Moeslis's son is an example of the kind of kid who manage to land a job there out of college. Good luck

Best Response
Oct 5, 2013

by all means you should absolutely focus your life on getting into a group about which you seem to know nothing

    • 10
Oct 5, 2013

+1 LOL

Oct 5, 2013
mrb87:

by all means you should absolutely focus your life on getting into a group about which you seem to know nothing

LOLOLOL this guy is on a roll today

Just don't confuse Special Situations Group w/ Special Asset Group - one is distressed, other focuses on managing GS's loan portfolio risk.

speed boost blaze

    • 1
Aug 19, 2017

torchic do you know what exactly is doing Special Asset Group ?

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Oct 5, 2013

My mentor worked for the Special Situations Group a while ago in Tokyo. He had an MBA from Columbia+ previous experience in banking. As far as I know, it is indeed near impossible for an undergrad to get into that division.

Oct 5, 2013

A friend of mine interned in SSG after sophomore year. It is competitive to get an interview, and if you get an interview you certainly need to know your stuff, but it's not impossible. They take very few undergrads, correct, but that's not because it's the single most prestigious thing under the sun. The simple fact of the matter is that undergrads often have little value to add, and in a group that lean, the logic is "why up the headcount?"

He got the return offer but chose to spend his junior summer in IBD, citing a few reasons. One, the group has been hampered by regulation since the crisis. Its reach is much more limited. He didn't like that the investments were often small, in weird assets, and that exits were limited given how unusual the experience is. I don't personally know anyone who's exited the group so I can't speak to what the exits are like, but the short story is that it isn't as much like working for a distressed hedge fund as it is working for a catch-all group that invests in whatever weird stuff gets by the regulation.

He summered in a solid group (not TMT or FIG) and got the return offer.

SSG at GS is not the golden-plated money machine of the firm. That would be MSI. Those guys ... read about the group online.

Oct 5, 2013

Agree with APAE - friend of mine interned with SSG this past summer. It's also not entirely distressed investing; there are a variety of strategies. MSI is the truly elite group that GS keeps really secretive.

GSIP is probably harder to get into than SSG - the interviews are definitely far more technical.

Oct 5, 2013

I know a guy who summered in GSIP this year in the long-short discipline. He enjoyed it immensely. I thought he was remarkably competent, and I've heard that the screening process there is pretty challenging. There was also a guy out of school one year ahead of me who is at Liberty Harbor ... I personally hold both of those units in higher regard than SSG.

Oct 6, 2013

Msi sits within ssg if I remember correctly.

Gsip is possibly the best group out of those, one of the better ls funds v. Similar to Eton park (unsurprisingly).

Jan 12, 2014

Yes, MSI is within SSG.

Mar 3, 2014

The reason Ken Moelis' son was hired has more to do with establishing transactional points of entry than the prodigal son's technical aptitude. (see: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/08/19/hiring-the-...)

To give you a better idea of what kind stagering intellectual horsepower is required, look no further than my very good friend, Ivy-educated super-genius Zach, a former Summer Analyst in AmSSG. He was valedictorian of his graduating class in the hardest technical major offered at the college, having produced a spotless transcript. He went on to win a Rhodes Scholarship, and join a fairly prominent VC fund.

An Associate in AmSSG, Holger "the Stud", is probably the greatest panty-dropper alive. Never mind the fact that he was Valedictorian of this ultra-elite Ivy. An accomplished polyglot, Holger not only acts in French plays, but performs breathtaking piano concerts in front of packed auditoriums. He earned nearly every academic prize possible, recording the most A's and A+'s of his graduating class.

There's a good chance none of you are like us, which is why SSG shall continue to evade your grasp.

    • 8
Mar 3, 2014

Cool story bro

Mar 4, 2014

7/10

Dec 9, 2014

Ken Moelis' son also graduated top 10% at Whatron with absolutely ridiculous internship experience, so the kid can get his work done.

Aug 25, 2016

GS SSG encompasses a few different products, so it's tough to nail down which group a person might fall to.

The current group I work for has a number of guys (all directors or above) that spent time in GS SSG, with two from SLG (which is housed underneath the SSG). We essentially do everything the GS SSG does, but on deals that are about 1/4 of the size they do. Also, we don't is equity control positions, while SSG will. Since we're a smaller office, we don't have the resources to run the ship if one of our portfolio ships fell down, so liquidation analysis is a major sticking point for us.

GS SSG can invest up and down the cap structure, but primarily want credit and/or credit-like equity instruments with returns north of 20%. The cool thing about this strategy is that you can pretty much do any deal for in any industry, so there is a lot to learn. I've looked at growth credit and equity, VC investments, royalties, and asset based lending deals.

I plan on applying there after business school... I'm hoping my MDs + an MBA from Wharton will help me get in.

  • ncambridgeuni
  •  Apr 23, 2018

Almost impossible to get into ESSG/SSG at Goldman because they only take the best people from top schools and usually look for someone with experience in structured finance or PE. But if you get in, you're sorted! You'll work with the smartest people in the industry

Apr 23, 2018

SSG doesn't recruit anymore. Too many people used it as a springboard for better opportunities.

    • 1
Apr 23, 2018

Not at all. They ask you who you think will win the NBA championship, how your mother's doing, and if you were an animal, what would you be?

Maybe assets = liabilities + _____ , too.

    • 1
Apr 23, 2018

awesome reply, analystforhire. I was seriously JUST about to post "No, they'll just chat about sports" until I scrolled down.

Apr 23, 2018

They may ask you about a Special Situation you've encountered in life and what you did to overcome it. Maybe if it's a group interview they may ask everyone to join in, kind of like a group session. Everyone will be super helpful and will show much support if you open up--as any support structure should for those encountering Special Situations in their life. I think hugging it out is fairly customary at the end of the process.

    • 1
Apr 23, 2018

That's NOT true, Durban. I went through the process with GS Special Situations, and we didn't hug it out at the end.

Everything else you said was spot on, though...

Apr 23, 2018

jeez no fun

Apr 23, 2018

Wow that was helpful...

yes i know it will be technical but i was hoping for some more color

Apr 23, 2018

Haha I love that skit.

Apr 23, 2018
  • technicals and f. modelling
  • investments
  • business awareness
Apr 23, 2018

Hi guys, I have a modeling test coming up. Any insights on what they expect? Appreciate your help!

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Jul 2, 2018

Special Situations at GS is by far the most elite and notoriously hard group to get in! The team is relatively small and it is an internal hedge fund and principal investing vehicle of Goldman as they invest Goldman's own money. I guess that explains why you can't find much information about the team or the deals online, it's very exclusive. They are very picky about candidates and look for a specific skills set usually quite technical with investment mindset.

A close friend of mine works in SSG at GS and they work insane hours but he said the people in the team are extremely smart and the team dynamic is good. If you make it to the team you are most likely insanely smart because less than 1% of applicants succeed in the final round (was told by an MD in the team). Best of luck!

    • 2
Oct 21, 2018

Received an email 2+ months later from an SSG recruiter saying she was interested in having a phone call. Any and all useful/relevant prep resources are much appreciated for those inclined to share.

Will circle back after the call this week.

Nov 12, 2018

https://www.wsj.com/articles/goldman-elevates-spec...
"In the wake of the Dodd-Frank law, which limited banks' ability to make bets with their own capital, the Goldman unit shifted toward activities that are viewed more favorably by regulators, such as middle-market and real-estate lending."

What did SSG used to do more of?

Feb 17, 2019

Had an interview with them, below 3 GPA, from a non-ivy, without any referrals and internships in the US. Some of these comments have no clue what they are talking about.

Feb 17, 2019

Hey specterross21, I swear if I had a silver banana for every lonely thread I posted too I'd be richer than @compbanker ...

If we're lucky, the following pros may have something to say: @karankeswani13 @brooooo @brooooo

Fingers crossed that one of those helps you.

Feb 17, 2019

Your question mixes quite a few things up. Oaktree is an asset manager, with certain groups maybe somewhat comparable to SSG, and PJT is an investment bank, which is totally different.

They invest in securities. It's a brutal culture. It has fantastic exit opps (better than basically any banking group in terms of HF placement). It's an a very difficult group to even get an interview with. The process is very rigorous.