Goldman Sachs’ Edith Cooper recently spoke to Bloomberg Markets Magazine about what it’s like to be a woman at the top of Goldman’s management, and about what drives people to work there.
She says money lust for big paychecks is not the main reason most people work there.
She told the magazine,
“When you are on the fifth version of something and working late, you are not going to have your paycheck piled up in front of you.”
“What is going to keep you going is that you are interested in the business.”
What’s interesting about her comment is that until some years ago, Goldman employees were able, if they received a big bonus and wanted to show it off, to pile their paychecks up in front of them, if we remember a passage about the firm in Emanuel Derman’s book correctly.
It’s not the case anymore, but back in the day, Goldman couldn’t write bonus paychecks for more than around $50,000. They had a limit, so if you earned a $150,000 bonus, for example, at bonus time, you would receive three checks.
In Emanuel Derman’s “My Life As A Quant,” the former head of Goldman Sachs’ Quantitative Risk Strategies writes that before Goldman changed the check limit, some Goldman traders used to show off how many checks they earned that year.
Some traders received a fat stack and some of them flaunted it.
Derman writes about one trader:
One well-paid young trader had a habit of taking his bundle and silently riffling through it.
If we remember correctly, Derman also writes that some used to make a fan out their checks, and some used to keep their checks neatly piled on their desks until the days’ end.
Interestingly, Amazon seems to allow people to read most of the pages of Derman’s book online, except page 184, where the rest of this passage is apparently located.
When we searched for it, all we could extract were the sentence aboves. But check back tomorrow. We have the book at home and will write an update to this post with the full excerpt from that passage tomorrow.
Anyway, the new culture at Goldman would obviously not encourage this type of behaviour nowadays, but they used to. Then they changed the limit the firm could write checks for and then obviously, came direct deposit.
And now, Cooper says, people have to actually like working there.