Goldman Sachs is cutting costs big time

Lloyd blankfeinThos Robinson / Getty ImagesGoldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

Goldman Sachs is looking to cut costs, big time.

That’s according to Bloomberg’s
Dakin Campbell, Aaron Kirchfeld, Manuel Baigorri, who report that the firm is pulling in the reins on bankers’ travel and entertainment expenses, as well as laying off support staff.

Wall Street banks had their worst first quarter since 2009, with total revenues down 36% from last year, according to Dealogic.

The first quarter is typically the strongest for investment banks, but c
hoppy trading conditions in early 2016, fears over China’s growth, and a collapsed oil price have created a
“perfect storm”
for banks. More on that here.

JPMorgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup reported Q1 earnings this week — and profit dropped significantly at each of the banks. At Citigroup, earnings were down 28% from the same period last year.

Goldman is set to report Q1 earnings on Tuesday, and it’s already expected to have begun reducing expenses.

Morgan Stanley analyst Betsy Graseck predicted in a recent note that Goldman’s operating expenses will be down 29%, according to the Bloomberg report.

Juniorization and cross-selling

Goldman has previously hinted at other ways in which it is looking to reduce expenses.

CEO Lloyd Blankfein noted in his annual shareholder letter that overall compensation and benefits expenses have dropped by about $270 million over the past four years, despite total staffing levels being up 11%.

“Through a combination of shifting to a greater percentage of junior employees and relocating some of our footprint to lower-cost locations, we have managed our expenses well,” Blankfein wrote.

Specifically, the number of analysts, associates, and vice presidents — that is, the more junior employees — is up 17% over the past four years, while the more senior managing director and partner population is down 2%.

Goldman Hong KongGoldman SachsGoldman Sachs is employing more junior staff and fewer senior people.

Goldman is also looking to boost revenues and cut costs by cross-selling
more sales and trading products to existing clients, as rival banks pull out or cut back in certain trading-business lines amid rough market conditions.

“GS believes its client franchise is strong and that by maintaining a globally diverse set of trading businesses there should be increased opportunity to cross sell over time,” wrote Deutsche Bank’s Matt O’Connor in a note last month, following a meeting with Goldman’s securities cohead, Pablo Salame.

“GS views this as one of the biggest benefits of peer retrenchment.”

The firm in February promoted Jim Esposito to chief strategy officer of the securities division and tasked him with growing the client franchise.

“The ability to deliver the full range of products and services we offer to our clients is more valuable today than any other time that we can recall,” Salame and securities coheads Isabelle Ealet and Ashok Varadhan wrote in an internal memo at the time.

Read the full story over at Bloomberg »

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