Partners wait for de-fanging at Goldman

GOLDMAN SACHS has kicked off “de-fanging” season, the time when a small number of top bankers are stripped of their partnerships to make way for upcoming talent.

Around 30 senior figures are demoted from partner status each year and a handful of others retire, while around 100 fresh candidates are promoted. This year’s process is expected to conclude in November.

Of the Wall Street giant’s 35,000 employees, only 375 enjoy the much-coveted position. The lucrative post is used to reward Goldman’s highest achievers and offers benefits from increased bonus payments to fast-track promotions. Partners can even ask Goldman to book them tables at fashionable restaurants and bars.

Goldman’s practice of de-fanging a certain number of partners each year keeps the pool small and ensures the position retains a cachet. A senior banker with knowledge of the process said the institution had recently cut the minimum amount of time after which a person could be removed from the partnership to one year, meaning competition this season would be “very aggressive”.

Because around 100 of Goldman’s partners are involved in management positions, effectively just 275 are exposed to the annual cull.

Rich Lyons, dean of the Haas School of Business at the University of California and a former Goldman managing director, said: “It’s an intensive process and it’s super-selective. There are many more that make it than get pulled, but it’s quite rare among other partnership firms for someone to get dropped at all. It’s consistent with Goldman’s highly performance-driven culture.”