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Goldman Sachs joins Wall Street rivals in boosting junior banker salaries

Goldman Sachs joins Wall Street rivals in boosting junior banker salaries

02 Aug 2021

David Solomon, Goldman Sachs & Co.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

There’s a new minimum wage on Wall Street.

Goldman Sachs is giving its junior bankers a pay raise, the last major Wall Street firm to do so in a year where record deal-making activity has led to fierce competition for workers.

First-year analysts, the most junior of investment bankers who are typically recent college graduates, will be paid a $110,000 annual base salary, up from $85,000 previously, according to a person with knowledge of the changes. Second-year analysts will earn $125,000 and first-year associates will make $150,000, a bump from $95,000 and $125,000 respectively, the person said.

The move establishes a new floor for compensation among major Wall Street investment banking programs. The industry was roiled in March when an internal survey done by Goldman analysts detailed long hours and burnout caused by the deals boom; rivals immediately seized on the controversy to announce perks including $20,000 special bonuses and Peloton bicycles.

But Goldman, which has perhaps the top brand in investment banking, had resisted following its rivals in raising pay.

Instead, CEO David Solomon initially told employees the firm was hiring more bankers, automating menial tasks and recommitting to a “Saturday rule” to give workers a weekend respite. The bank had debated internally whether to boost salaries, which are fixed, instead of just making bonuses larger, the Financial Times reported last month.

In the meantime, rival banks including Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Barclays all boosted first-year analysts’ pay to $100,000 from around $85,000.  That followed raises from Bank of America and other firms earlier in the year.

The industry can afford to be generous: The business of advising on mergers and acquisitions has been red hot this year, with the volume of deals globally soaring past $2 trillion amid a record first half. Investment banks get paid lucrative fees at the close of deals, and larger deals result in more dollars for compensation pools.

Banks often move in lockstep when it comes to pay and perks, hoping to lure enough talented workers to develop a pipeline of experienced dealmakers.

In the end, Goldman not only met competitors’ pay, but also exceeded it. The move could ultimately force rivals to match the bank’s $110,000 salary for first-year bankers, according to a Wall Street recruiter who declined to be identified.

And junior Goldman bankers have more news coming: They will learn about the size of their bonuses later this month, according to the person. The percentage of pay a banker makes in so-called variable compensation grows as they climb the ranks.

“We have always paid very competitively,” Solomon said last month during an earning conference call. “We have always been a pay-for-performance organization.”

—CNBC’s Hannah Miao contributed to this report.

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