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File Photo Reuters

Goldman Sachs’s 60 new partners are the happiest people on Wall Street today

  • Bankers elevated Thursday are a slightly more diverse group than in years past

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. promoted 60 bankers into its partnership on Thursday, the fewest in two decades as Chief Executive David Solomon tries to restore the somewhat faded luster of Wall Street’s most elite club.

The group is marginally more diverse than in past years and heavier on coders, but still dominated by traders and deal makers. They ascend at an uncertain moment for Goldman, which is trying to remake itself from a Wall Street powerhouse into something of a financial superstore without losing its identity or its rainmakers.

Though largely symbolic—Goldman went public 20 years ago and its partners now own just a token slice of the firm—the partnership has retained a powerful hold on Wall Street’s psyche and is a key way to motivate employees, signal priorities and protect the firm’s culture. (The definitive history book on Goldman, published in 2008, is called “The Partnership.")

But its allure has waned in recent years. Bonuses fell after the global financial crisis. The partnership swelled from about 220 when Goldman went public to more than 500 at its peak, sparking grumbles from senior executives that standards were slipping and that the financial pie was shared too widely.

Mr. Solomon has been on a mission to restore that prestige. Dozens of partners have retired this year, some with mild encouragement or explicit marching orders. A few have been stripped of the title but remain at the bank, an ignominy known as “de-partnering" that is whispered about but rarely discussed openly.

And Goldman this fall began offering its partners new access to profits from the firm’s private investment funds, hoping to undercut complaints about falling pay and a stock price stuck in neutral. Goldman shares are trading below their 2018 peak and are lagging Morgan Stanley this year, down 7% versus its archrival’s 9% rise.

This year’s selection process got under way last month with a clear mandate to keep the list tight, executives said. Tough in normal years, it was made more so this year by competing priorities: reward top producers, ensure a diverse class and promote from within the firm’s growth businesses like wealth management as a way to signal their importance. Last-minute jockeying padded the list, as it often does.

Among those who got an early-morning congratulatory phone call from Mr. Solomon or Goldman’s president, John Waldron, who divvied up the list between them, are Jen Roth, a bond saleswoman; Neema Raphael, a data scientist; Ryan Nolan and Jane Dunlevie, a pair of tech bankers in San Francisco; Max Ramirez, a private-equity fundraising specialist in London; Orla Dunne, an engineer who was key to transitioning Goldman’s traders to working from home this year; and Anne-Victoire Auriault, a 32-year-old trader who is one of the youngest women to make partner at Goldman and got the call while on maternity leave.

Ms. Roth was sitting at her desk on Goldman’s trading floor—she is among roughly 20% of staff rotating back through the office weekly—when her phone rang. “I look down and see David Solomon’s name pop up, and David Solomon’s name doesn’t usually pop up on my phone," she said. She relayed the news to her husband and three children; her daughter announced the news to her Zoom schoolroom.

“You’ve been working toward this your entire career," said Ms. Roth, 39 years old, who plans a quiet dinner at home on account of the pandemic.

Two-thirds of the class are traders or investment bankers. In one surprise, none of them work in the consumer bank, Marcus, which is at the heart of the firm’s high-stakes pivot.

Sixteen are women, the highest percentage ever and a sign of progress toward Mr. Solomon’s promise to close Goldman’s gender gap. Four are Black. (Nicole Pullen Ross, who tends to ultrawealthy clients in New York, is both, joining a small cadre of senior Black women on Wall Street.) Just over half are white men.

Some of those who didn’t make the cut seek jobs elsewhere on Wall Street, an exodus that industry recruiters count on. Others will pin their hopes on 2022, the next promotion year. One retired partner in a tweet Thursday captured the main reason Goldman keeps the partnership around: It’s the most potent catnip on Wall Street.

“Tomorrow begins the race for 2022," Joseph Mauro, who retired in 2016, posted. “#KeepRunning."

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text

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