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Morning Coffee: How you'll know you're too old to make MD at Goldman Sachs. Elite students urged to adopt banking lifestyle

Too young, too old or just the right age to make MD at Goldman?

Are you too old to make managing director at Goldman Sachs? If you're much beyond 45, the answer is probably yes. It may even be yes if you're much beyond 35.

Goldman Sachs released its new MD list yesterday. Aside from being the largest such list ever (more on this below) it also offers some handy demographic pointers about the nature of managing directors (MDs) at Goldman Sachs.

Basically, Goldman MDs are young. On average, each new MD on the list has spent 10 years at the firm.  If you start at Goldman when you're 25, the implication is that you'll be MD in your mid-30s. The earlier the better.

Like last time, Goldman also promoted a large chunk of Millennials (aged between 20 and 36). 44% of this year's new MDs were in this category, up from a third the last time Goldman made MD promotions in 2013.  

None of this should come as a surprise. The average age at Goldman Sachs is 28: youthful promotions are an inevitability.

Meanwhile, Goldman's giant MD class, which is skewed towards trading, has a message of its own: that Goldman has promoted so many people suggests it's working hard to retain them after a difficult year. If you're not increasing bonuses, what better way to keep people on your side?

(Other stats to know about the new MD class: 43% have at least one advanced degree, while 66% started as analysts or associates at Goldman, the bank's entry-level positions, and 21% are former Goldman Sachs interns – 20% have worked in multiple regions, while 47% have worked in multiple divisions. In investment banking, 101 people were promoted to MD, up from 97 in 2015. In the securities division, which includes sales and trading, 130 people were promoted, compared with 102 in 2015. Eight people were promoted in the consumer and commercial bank, when in 2015 no one was promoted. In technology, the total number was 52, up from 38 two years ago. The percentage of women promoted to MD declined to 24% this year from 25% in 2015. Staff based in the Americas accounted for 57%, up from 54% two years ago....)

Separately, it’s well-known that the Ivy League and Oxbridge are extremely competitive and stressful, but it’s widely assumed that most elite students are self-motivated to go the extra mile. It doesn’t help when professors encourage impressionable minds to go overboard on studying to the point that they don’t have any time for socializing or drinking.

A Cambridge University professor has been accused of “frightening impressionable undergraduates” after he sent an email to first-year students warning them that they would have to give up their social lives if they wanted to do well on the course, according to the International Business Times.

In an email to first-year natural sciences students at Queens' College, Professor Eugene Terentjev wrote that the course required their "full brain capacity" and would leave them little time for a “social life” and “drinking.”

"Physical sciences is a VERY hard subject, which will require ALL of your attention and your FULL brain capacity (and for a large fraction of you, even that will not be quite enough)," he wrote in the email, which a student shared on the Memebridge Facebook page.

"You can ONLY do well (ie achieve your potential, which rightly or wrongly several people here assumed you have) if you are completely focused, and learn to enjoy the course. People who just TAKE the course, but enjoy their social life, can easily survive in many subjects — but not in this one," Terentjev warned the students.

"Remember that you are NOT at any other uni, where students do drink a lot and do have what they regard as a 'good time' — and you are NOT on a course, as some Cambridge courses sadly are, where such a behaviour pattern is possible or acceptable," the email concluded.

The message sparked outrage among students, academics and mental health campaigners who warned that Terentjev's comments could be "extremely damaging" to the mental well-being of students concerned.

Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of Buckingham University and a prominent mental health campaigner, criticized Terentjev for "frightening impressionable undergraduates into believing that work alone is all-important", describing his message as "irresponsible, unkind and wrong-headed."


Goldman Sachs has got a new management structure in its trading business. (Bloomberg) 

Jamie Dimon had a personal meeting with the British government and feels better about Brexit now. (Financial Times)

A Harvard Business School case study on the Goldman's digital strategy, which runs through some of the history of the bank’s efforts to switch to thinking like a tech company, some of the tension it has caused and the payoffs, was presented as part of the executive MBA program last week. (Business Insider)

Some fintech startups want to become banks, too. (Bloomberg)

How a woman from a non-target university landed an equity sales internship and a full-time offer at a bulge-bracket bank in New York. (Mergers & Inquisitions)

Credit Suisse made a big e-trading hire. (Financial News) 

UBS has made some big changes to management at its investment bank. (Wall Street Journal) 

Jonathan Larkin, the chief investment officer of crowd-sourced quantitative investment algorithm platform Quantopian, has left the firm following disappointing returns in its inaugural hedge fund. (FINalternatives)

A small band of trading specialists are taking calls about $50m bitcoin trades. (Business Insider)

If you’re a trader or portfolio manager shorting a stock, then be sure you don’t the mistakes that these short-sellers just did. (Business Insider)

Venezuela has turned into bond traders’ worst nightmare. (Bloomberg)

Former Cheyne Capital senior portfolio manager Dietmar Schmitt is relaunching his hedge fund business, Sam Capital Partners, with a 10-person team of investment professionals. (HFMWeek)

Bumble, a dating app known for letting women initiate contact with men, now allows its more than 22m registered users to search for prospective mentors and colleagues, in addition to romantic interests. (WSJ)

AUTHORDan Butcher US Editor
  • Ox
    16 November 2017

    Imperial was much the same, as was Oxford. But the facts speak for themselves: around 20 - 25% get a 1st, the vast majority now get a 2:1, which is all you need to get a job. Indeed, I was shocked after my degree to discover people with 2:2s at places like McKinsey, and I remember one self-promoting ass who got a 3rd and immediately got a job in sales at IBM, and two people with a 3rd who got into large consultancy firms although it took rather longer and probably some networking/connections although that certainly was not the norm. That was when both A-level and university standards were a bit higher, but the reality is the same: you don't need to be a brainbox is most jobs, and employers tend to hire people they like. Indeed, I thought I saw an inverse relationship between academic performance and prestige/financial reward of job (if attained at all). The best Physics students were more otherworldly and less aware of the importance of internships and other CV points, while the weaker students were better at presenting a positive impression of themselves, telling white lies, using stronger students to get them through the course and so on. And I'm sure that this dynamic persists, because many top students will still only find out about banking/consulting in their final/penultimate year, especially if they come from an average background. They will have an irrational faith that the system under which they have excelled, that has encouraged them to think that they are the best of the best, will naturally be held in high esteem by employers, and naturally result in a top job offer in the lesser world of work. They are in for a shock, as tthat was not true 20 years ago, and that is even less true today.

    The attitudes of Professor Terentjev was quite wide spread back then, but it remained in the lecture theater, nobody would have dreamed of complaning, and there was no social media to spread it.

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