Goldman Loses at Least 37 Partners in Weakest Year Since 2008

Wednesday, 14 Dec 2011 02:10 PM

 

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Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the fifth- biggest U.S. bank by assets, has lost at least 37 partners in 2011 as the firm heads toward the end of its worst year for profit and share performance since 2008.

The number is an estimate based on internal memos, company filings and news reports as the New York-based bank doesn’t publicize departures. The company added nine partners from outside the firm this year, including six when Goldman Sachs took full control of its Australian joint venture.

Goldman Sachs, more than a dozen years since its initial public offering, still promotes top performers every even- numbered year to join a so-called partnership and share in a bonus pool that’s envied on Wall Street. Partners swelled to 475 last year from 221 as of the IPO. They’re among the biggest shareholders, with a combined stake of about 13.8 percent on Nov. 20, up from 10.2 percent on Jan. 27, filings show.

“I retired from GS after a fantastic 15 years entirely for family reasons,” Robert A. McTamaney, who was named partner in 2002, said in an e-mailed response to questions after confirming that he stepped down in June. “I plan to do something on my own related to helping people manage their money.”

The retirement of McTamaney, a U.S. citizen who helped run the equities trading business in Asia after being co-head of global foreign exchange and European emerging markets trading from London, is among those that haven’t been reported. Others include Ken N. Murphy, Dioscoro-Roy I. Ramos, Gary B. Schermerhorn, Devesh P. Shah and David H. Voon.

‘Good Fortune’

“These guys have created a pretty good fortune and they’ve got liquidity and can move out in a way that they couldn’t when they were a partnership,” said Jay W. Lorsch, a Harvard Business School professor who helped run an education program for new partners in the 1980s. It’s not “a huge number” of retirements as it’s less than 10 percent of the total, he said.

Banks face new regulations and capital requirements that may crimp profits. Protests, some aimed at Goldman Sachs, have decried Wall Street bonuses after taxpayers rescued the financial system in 2008. Demonstrators have disrupted bank recruiting on college campuses and about 250 gathered this week in front of the company’s headquarters chanting “Take the ax to Goldman Sachs.”

Goldman Sachs shares have swooned 43 percent this year and net earnings tumbled 43 percent in the nine months ended Sept. 30. The company set aside $10 billion for compensation in the first three quarters, enough to pay each worker $292,836 for the period, down from $370,706 a year earlier.

Highest-Paid

Partners, typically the highest-paid employees, receive most of their compensation in stock and must hold at least a quarter of the after-tax shares they receive from the company until they retire, according to a proxy statement.

Goldman Sachs promoted 110 people to partner last year, the second-largest class after 115 people were added in 2006.

The firm, with 34,200 employees at the end of September, has said it aims to trim $1.2 billion in annual expenses, which could lead to at least 1,000 job cuts. Some of the partner departures, including retirements, may be tied to the cost- saving effort.

New partners include Daniel P. Petrozzo, chief information officer at Fidelity Investments before joining Goldman Sachs in June, and Boston Consulting Group Chairman Carl Stern, 65, who became a Chicago-based vice chairman in the investment-banking division in September, according to company filings and LinkedIn profiles. Ronald Hua, a citizen of the U.S. and Taiwan, joined in September as chief investment officer and head of the quantitative equity alpha business within asset management.

Class of ‘88

Goldman Sachs doesn’t publish statistics on how many partners leave each year and the company stopped announcing partner promotions in press releases after 2006. David Wells, a spokesman for the firm, declined to comment.

Four people who left or are leaving this year became partners before the 1999 IPO. The departure of Kevin W. Kennedy, 63, who became partner in 1984, leaves Goldman Sachs with two partners from that decade, both from the class of 1988: Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein, 57, and John P. Curtin Jr., 61, a U.S. citizen who is the Toronto-based chairman and CEO of the firm’s Canadian business.

Kennedy is one of four members of the management committee who will be gone by year-end, along with Yusuf A. Alireza, Edward C. Forst and Richard M. Ruzika.

‘Terribly Hard’

“The work is terribly hard and so people don’t stay around usually in this line of work for all that long,” Charles D. Ellis, author of the 2008 book “The Partnership: The Making of Goldman Sachs,” said in a telephone interview. “The intensity gets to you.”

Some partners who retire maintain ties to the company through business relationships, alumni events or so-called advisory-director or senior-director roles. An example is Joseph H. Gleberman, who worked at Goldman Sachs for more than 29 years and became a partner in 1990.

Gleberman, who most recently was chief risk officer for the company’s merchant-banking division, said he will serve as an advisory director on the investment committee after retiring at year-end.

“I’ve had a very gratifying career at GS but I decided that if I was going to have a significant next career (unidentified as yet), now was the time to make the change,” he wrote in response to an e-mailed question.

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