Goldman Sachs Reviews

Updated October 21, 2014
Updated October 21, 2014
1,756 Reviews
3.7
1,756 Reviews
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Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd C. Blankfein
Lloyd C. Blankfein
1,164 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • The best thing about the firm is outstandingly smart people at the firm (in 178 reviews)

  • People are smart (no one can be lazy, people always challenge you, you learn a lot) but humble (in 45 reviews)


Cons
  • Work life balance is non existent if you want to proceed up the corporate ladder (in 314 reviews)

  • Long hours, bureaucratic culture so that entry-level people have little chance to voice up (in 384 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1. 6 people found this helpful  

    The price of success

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Software Developer in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Senior Software Developer in New York, NY

    I worked at Goldman Sachs full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    So what's it like working for Goldman Sachs? Well, first things first, I worked in one department of one of the many divisions of GS. GS is a company of well over 30,000 employees. Each division is like a company in and of itself, so generalising an experience even within a single division is fraught with issues, so you'll have to take my words in that very narrow context.

    The Good
    Probably the best thing about this company is that it is very pro-diversity. They want to create a work environment that mirrors the real world on the outside and they are keen to tap the brain power of the diversity that's out there. While I don't particularly care to know at work what someone gets up to in their own downtime, it's likely to be reassuring to others who are LGBT or of other diverse backgrounds who are looking to their own futures within the firm. To reinforce the firm commitment, it is mandatory for employees to complete a minimum of 2 hours annual diversity training.

    I'd say that every person I met at GS was top notch. There are no village idiots or jokers lurking anywhere. Professionalism is at the core of being a successful employee. I always got the feeling I was rubbing shoulders with the 'A' grade crowd...the Ivy Leaguers. Almost everyone is uber smart and hyper keen. If you have an issue and you need someones help, then most people (though not all) you talk to will make it their mission to help you out.

    The corporate gym is very well equipped. Great machines, great classes to attend and cheap membership gives you an Rebok-like experience at about half the price. It's a bit weird the first few times you go as GS optionally lends you a gray t-shirt, gray shorts and white socks to sweat you stuff in so no need for you to bring in your smelly sweats to the office (but you will need your own training shoes as thankfully they are not provided). Membership includes your own private locker but I never used mine as I'd never want to leave anything sweaty in a locker overnight! Since everyone uses GS sweats, this culminates in a complete lack of gym clothing diversity...it's a sea of gray and you feel like platoon infantryman as you wander round the gym floor.

    Cons

    The Bad
    Work-life balance. Depending on the division you work in will have a great bearing on how hard you will be expected to work. Miraculously the department of the division I was in is somewhat chilled out compared to all other parts of the firm I heard about. Most of my colleagues were averaging about 45 hours per week. That's almost unheard of in GS most colleagues in different divisions were putting down 16 hour days every day as a norm.

    When you exit the building at 6.30pm of an evening on your way home, you will pass a swarm of busy bees carrying bags of takeaway food re-entering the building on their way back to their desks for another 4 or 5 hours of work. These are the eager beavers and the company rewards this kind of hard work when bonus season comes round in February. If you're not one of these people, then chances are your career is unlikely to reach the stars to say the least. A 55 hour week is at the very bottom end of the “hard work” spectrum. Read the Forbes article about Liz Beshel to see what the commitment level for success really is at GS if you plan to go beyond the stratosphere at GS.

    The Ugly
    Almost every big corporate company shares the same "hard work" traits, but GS effortlessly manages to up the ante to another level:
    1) You are always available even when you're on vacation because of the Blackberry phone

    You are always just a phone call or an email away from being brought into help solve the latest problem no matter what hour of the day is or what plans you made with your family this weekend.

    Logging in from home in the weekday evenings and on weekends like everyone else does is a basic norm at GS

    Not responding to a weekend crisis due to a trip away with the family is something to avoid. The company expects performers to be available at all times

    2) When you join the firm you will spend one day going through 'orientation', effectively being indoctrinated in all things GS. During this day, you will learn (among other things) about the strength of the GS 'posting culture'. They tell you that everyone posts constantly and it is expected that you will post constantly as well.

    Due to the "posting" culture at GS, your inbox will quickly overflow every single workday so mastery of Outlook will go some way towards managing it, but in reality, most folk put in additional evening work hours to get on top of it all. The signal to noise ratio is generally appalling from middle management upwards.

    3) As if email traffic wasn't a bad enough problem to manage, they have recently added 2 more mountains for the GS information worker to scale, neither of which are inter-connected.

    i. First up, GSConnect is the internal social network – think Facebook meets LinkedIn meets Goldman Sachs (It's built on top of the popular Jive social platform). This is a reputation (points) based platform for everyone to hear about what everyone else is up to in the firm and chime in with comments, articles, advice and tips.

    For many folk at GS, this is a great means for marketing ones own skills within the firm. Being seen to continually contribute to the team and the firm will get you noticed. But like any social platform it is a double edged sword that could easily destroy ones reputation in a heartbeat. Not being seen to actively contribute will come back to haunt the employee at review time and therefore at bonus time.

    ii. Second up, LiveCurrent is the new instant chat program that you will need to be seen participating in. This is a place to share information in a more immediate manner with the GS hive. It's nothing more than chat rooms. LiveCurrent is a basic annoyance as pop up toast interrupts the working day continuously with banal updates from various leaders

    4) GS meetings are primarily all about asking questions. If you want to succeed at GS, you need to practice this art to perfection. Unfortunately most meetings are a waste of time but there is no throttle to control them other than to decline them, but not seen to be participating will come at a price during the annual review process. Most meetings result in more noise be it email trail, GSConnect or LiveCurrent - trying to stay on top of the noise is challenging to say the least.

    5) Consensus driven culture. The orientation day will inform you that there is no such thing as a 'star' performer at GS because everyone operates in a team and therefore the team is the 'star'. Not only that, but you will now have to get used to “building consensus” on a very regular basis. You will get praise for being seen to round up the herd and get buy in from everyone for decisions of any magnitude and that is the problem. Typically (outside of GS), most people naturally seek consensus when there are big decisions, but GS has promoted consensus building to a first class citizen within the firm so even small decisions get quickly bogged down with the basic requirement to build consensus.

    6) The 360 degree annual review. This is a 2 month gruelling process imposed on everyone at GS that is taken very seriously by all. It is essential to have mended all fences with your colleagues at least 2 months before the review process starts or suffer the the wrath of their short term memory. The official word from management is that the review process does not affect your bonus which is very hard to believe.

    7) Unofficially, GS has currently different levels that are **due to be disbanded**. The levels are as follows: Analyst, L1, L2, L3, M1, M2, Partner. If you are being hired currently, be sure to ask the level you are being hired in at because they won't tell you unless you ask and it will take you a month or so after being hired before you find out and this information and by then it will be too late to change it (you will have to wait for the annual promotions for which you have to be nominated first). To give you an idea, L2 is someone with 5 years experience. Levels are not advertised internally at all, so you will have no idea what level other people are at unless you have the conversation. Being hired in at the right level will influence the compensation bracket you fall into, so it's reasonably critical to know - you want to come in at a level that truly reflects your skills and abilities. A key point to make here is that the levels are due to be disbanded very soon (or it may already have taken place since I am an ex-employee). It's worth mentioning that VP (Vice President) is merely a badge of honor at GS, not a level as just discussed. Therefore, it is of no consequence to your compensation, so bartering for VP with HR is nowhere near as important as bartering for level since only the latter will have any impact on your compensation profile. So now you know.

    8) With no one knowing what level anyone else is at, you won't be surprised to hear that GS has no org-chart. So you will have no idea who reports in to who. This can be very confusing and the idea is to reduce structure in a bid to allow ideas to easily bubble up. If you are used to a classical hierarchy where you report into one boss who defines what is required of you then beware as it doesn't work like that at GS.

    When you add up the time spent processing the ever flowing fountain of information you will soon notice that you have no time to do the job you were actually hired for unless you plan on working evenings because only then can you actually get some work done once the crescendo of information dies down for a few precious hours. Stealing your way into work by 7.30am will also buy useful time before the noise starts up again.

    With the banking sector having effectively destroyed itself from its own deregulated excesses of the 2000 era, it's worth noting that remuneration packages were substantially reduced as a result. It's fair to say that most employees will not climb any higher than middle management (L2 is the defacto level at GS) and it's only after middle management that game changing compensation starts to kick in. Assuming you were to get to that point, consider carefully the time that will need to be sacrificed in your life (especially family life) and weigh up the pros and cons. If you get an offer from GS then that itself tells you something useful: you are by definition a high calibre individual since very few candidates get an offer from GS. With that in mind, why not consider channeling your highly rated skill-set (and GS are excellent at gauging skill-sets) into joining a fun start-up (GS is not a fun place to work by the way)? Or if you have a ground breaking idea, why not do you own startup?

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Read the cons I just wrote and if you nod at anything you see then act on it because that's why I left and that's what a lot of the employees are saying to one another!

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2.  

    Work with the smartest team in finance

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Goldman Sachs (more than an year)

    Pros

    Working for Goldman Sachs is like playing for the New York Yankees - they attract superstars that are willing to put their egos and previous successes aside to contribute to the team's success

    Cons

    Work-life balance is improving but still not ideal for people that aren't looking to make their job their entire life

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    In order to continue to attract and retain the best talent, significant cultural changes must occur

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    GS VIP

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Securities Intern in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Securities Intern in New York, NY

    I worked at Goldman Sachs as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    Very smart and dedicated people. Mostly friendly and willing to help if you have a high work ethic.

    Cons

    Long Hours. A culture of being there to be there.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5.  

    Goldman is a great company with immense resources at the fingertips of the most talented individuals in the business.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Associate in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Associate in New York, NY

    I worked at Goldman Sachs full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    The company is very impressive. The culture cannot be compared to any other - it is simply one-of-a-kind. You work hard. Challenged every day and the work is fascinating. Compete against the best of the best and walk away at the end of the day feeling accomplished. The building in NYC and even Jersey City are state of the art. Having the health center within the gym with doctors and NP's available is incredibly helpful should you need to see someone quickly and get back to work. Saves time - and that matters.

    Cons

    It takes too long to remove a bad manager, but this could be said about a lot of places. You can't fire someone just for being unpleasant. In most cases.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Compensation should be more even across individual teams. Top performers should be paid more, but the core function of a team remains the same from one to the other. Don't let the top performer gap out from the group. A review and a band around comp should be completed. Also, some managers are simply not meant for the job. When this becomes clear, take immediate action and don't wait 1.5 years to rid the company of these individuals.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 1 person found this helpful  

    Analyst

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Goldman Sachs full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    GS is the best of the best at Investment banking. Most of the people are good, decent people. They are ethical and invest a lot in you and make sure you get all of the training you need.

    Cons

    The workload is brutal. You are never off the clock. Your personal life will not be respected, although everyone knows this coming in.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Need to figure how to make a long-term career more bearable. It is not a sustainable career. Additionally, sometimes people promoted are not promoted based on managerial ability which can make life difficult for junior people.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7.  

    Great company, even greater people

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Analyst in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Analyst in New York, NY

    I have been working at Goldman Sachs part-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Great network, supportive team as well as people in senior management

    Cons

    Promotion potential takes a long time

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8.  

    It was exciting

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Business Analyst in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Business Analyst in New York, NY

    I have been working at Goldman Sachs full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    good money good benefits good management

    Cons

    possibility of long hours during the day

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    keep doing what your doing

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    Vice President in Technology Division

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Vice President - Technology in Jersey City, NJ
    Former Employee - Vice President - Technology in Jersey City, NJ

    I worked at Goldman Sachs full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    great to work with talented, competitive, collaborative people.

    Cons

    lately at senior level it has become less of meritocracy based and more of whom you know and how you project yourself rather than actual value added.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    partners and managing directors should re-instate skip-level and skip-skip level contacts to get more ground level reality.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10.  

    Good

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Goldman Sachs full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Extremely Talented Staff, Great Place to make career transitions

    Cons

    Politics is embedded in its culture

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Work-Life Balance

    Approves of CEO
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    Brutal work/life balance.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Vice President in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Vice President in New York, NY

    I have been working at Goldman Sachs full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    It's the best of the best career-wise. Great facilities and perks.

    Cons

    Hours and pace are unrelenting.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

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