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The crucial difference between making MD at Barclays and Goldman Sachs

If you want to make MD in an investment bank, should you work for Barclays or for Goldman Sachs? Statistics released by each bank on this year's MD promotions suggest it depends upon your career path.

Surprisingly, it looks a lot easier overall to make MD at Goldman than at Barclays. The U.S. bank promoted 509 people this year out of its staff of 38,500. New MDs therefore accounted for 1.4% of Goldman's total headcount, or 0.7% per annum when you consider that Goldman's MD promotions are biannual.

At Barclays, by comparison, less than half this proportion made MD this year. The UK bank's 74 MD global promotions spanned the corporate and investment bank (CIB), the private bank, overseas services, and Barclays' international cards business. Given that Barclays' CIB alone employs more than 20,000 people, while Barclays' International (which includes the investment bank and non-UK consumer cards and payments) employs 36,900, the implication is that just 0.2% to 0.4% of Barclays' staff made MD.

In other words, Barclays is pretty parsimonious when it comes to handing out promotions.

You're more likely to get promoted to MD at Barclays, though, if you join the bank part way through your career. Of this year's Barclays' managing director pool 65% didn't work their way up through the Barclays' graduate recruitment programme; they were promoted after joining the bank later in their careers. By comparison, only a third of Goldman's new MDs didn't join the bank as either an analyst or an associate.

Goldman promotes its own; Barclays promotes people it hired from other banks.

This might help explain exits from Goldman Sachs to Barclays - although recent Barclays hires like Asita Anche joined as an MD after also being an MD at GS.

Unlike Goldman Sachs, Barclays doesn't release the names of the people on its MD list. Sources say the new MDs aren't uniquely in the front office and include the likes of Maria Serova, a COO in Singapore who joined from VTB in 2008, and Esther Bernstein, a fixed income business manager in New York City who joined from Deutsche in the same year.

37 of Barclays' new MDs (50%) are in the Americas, where Barclays coincidentally makes around 50% of its investment banking revenues. 

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Photo credit: vernonwiley, Getty

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Ri
    13 December 2017

    can we stop propagating the myth of titles at different firms being the same level of seniority please. MDs at GS are more abundant because their HR hierarchy is still based on the partnership model. MD somewhere like Barclays should be equated roughly to partner at GS. This is fairly well known inside the industry....and I'm sure Ms. Butcher knows it.

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