The chief executive of Goldman Sachs has praised the group of disgruntled junior investment banking analysts who presented concerns about their workload to management last month, and committed to easing the strain on employees.
“It’s great that this group of analysts went to their management,” David Solomon said in a voice memo sent to bank staff on Sunday evening. “We want a workplace where people can share concerns freely.”
In response, the CEO said the bank would step up enforcement of the “Saturday rule” forbidding junior bankers from working from Friday at 9pm until Sunday morning, among other measures.
“We’re accelerating our efforts to hire new junior bankers across investment banking and we’re internally transferring bankers to business lines where activity levels are highest,” he said. “We’re also being more selective about business opportunities that we pursue, and we’re working to automate certain tasks in our business.”
Solomon emphasised how working from home had increased the strain of an already stressful business. “In this world of remote work, it feels like we have to be connected 24/7. All of us — your colleagues, your managers, our divisional leaders — we see that . . . This is not easy, and we’re working hard to make it better.”
Even as many sectors of the economy have been shut down or limited by the pandemic, capital markets have been highly active over the past 12 months, with debt issuance and initial public offering volumes at or near historic highs.
Solomon’s comments come in response to the circulation of a slide deck entitled “Working Conditions Survey”, which a small group of junior investment banking analysts presented to Goldman management in February. The deck detailed 95-hour work weeks, little sleep, brusque treatment by senior bankers, and the employees’ low opinion of the Wall Street firm.
The 13 self-selected analysts included in the survey rated their satisfaction with the job and the company at two out of 10 on average. One wrote: “I’ve been through foster care and this is arguably worse.”
The slide deck, which was formatted to look like an official Goldman presentation, has received widespread attention across both traditional and social media.
Solomon said he expected Goldman to continue to face high demand from clients and emphasised the need to meet the challenge.
“Just remember: if we all go an extra mile for our client, even when we feel that we’re reaching our limit, it can really make a difference in our performance,” he said.