It may be apt that Goldman Sachs names managing directors in odd-numbered years and partners in even ones. The system, as it stands, seems to give uneven weight to even-numbered years: presidential and congressional elections, Olympics (Tokyo being an outlier). Odd-year elections are left to governors and mayors. Not that some governors don’t eventually become president (or senator). Likewise, some Goldman managing directors become partner. Heck, Goldman’s managing director class this year includes a retired Super Bowl champion.
But managing director may not be the pinnacle of ambition for some Goldman employees. Some may not want to stay at the bank long enough to make partner before going on to something else. (This year’s crop of managing directors spent 11 years, on average, at the bank to get to that level.)
Goldman named 643 new managing directors Tuesday in an announcement that closely mirrored its rollout of partners — one link up the chain — last year. The bank heralded the class as its most diverse ever.
Women make up 30% of the managing directors tapped Tuesday, up from 29% when new managing directors were last named in 2019. (By comparison, 27% of the bank’s new class of partners last year were women.)
About 28% of Goldman’s new managing directors are Asian. (That compares with 26% of new managing directors in 2019, and 17% of new partners in 2020.) About 5% are Black and another 5% are Hispanic or Latinx — compared with 7% and 5%, respectively, among 2020’s new partners, and 4% and 2% among 2019’s new managing directors.
The biggest difference between 2020 and 2021 may be the number of Goldman employees being promoted. While last year made headlines for yielding the smallest class of new partners since 1998 — 60 — this year’s crop of new managing directors is the bank’s largest, at 643 — a 38.3% jump from 465 in 2019.
The size of the class reflects the bank’s headcount — which has grown to roughly 43,000 from 37,800 when managing directors were last announced, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Goldman narrowed its 2020 new partner class in an effort to preserve the luster of the position. But, in its message to employees Tuesday, the bank seemed to tell employees not to get discouraged if they didn’t make the cut as managing director. "We would like to acknowledge those not selected this year and their continued contributions to their teams and the firm," Goldman executives said.
Managing directors are given access to Pine Street, the bank’s leadership-training program, along with private investment funds and a personal wealth adviser. Goldman, at one time, guaranteed managing directors a minimum base salary of $500,000, but the bank did away with that promise some years ago, according to the Journal. Partners, by comparison, get to own a nominal slice of the company, increased access to profits from the firm's private investment funds and a base salary bump to $950,000. But the biennial announcement generates considerably more buzz — with one former partner last year likening the experience to becoming a member of the "Special Forces."
Not the big announcement, but …
In another case of newsmakers making an announcement — just not the one that’s been anticipated — the White House on Tuesday sent a formal nomination to the Senate, recommending Saule Omarova to become comptroller of the currency.
The coming announcement arguably expected to generate more buzz and greater consequence concerns the Federal Reserve.
President Joe Biden has said he would signal this fall whether he would renominate Jerome Powell as the central bank’s chair or go with another choice. Powell’s four-year term expires in February, and sentiment is somewhat divided, even among Democrats. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told senior White House advisers in August that she supports reappointing Powell, Bloomberg reported. But Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for one, has gone on record saying she would not.
Tuesday marked the day four years ago, according to Bloomberg, that former President Donald Trump nominated Powell to the role, in a move that numbered Yellen’s days as Fed chair.
"We’ll be making those announcements fairly quickly," Biden told a press conference Tuesday in Glasgow, Scotland, according to CNBC. "I also would indicate that I think we’re gonna have plenty of time to make sure all the major nominees are able to be cleared in time where their terms would expire."
The plural here — "announcements" — appears to indicate Biden will roll out a raft of picks for various roles at the central bank: chair, a vacant position on the Fed’s board of governors, and the vice president of supervision and regulation, which the Fed has left unfilled since Randal Quarles’ time in that role expired last month.
"I’ve given a lot of thought to it and I’ve been meeting with my economic advisers on what the best choices are, and we got a lot of good choices, but I’m not going to speculate now," Biden said Tuesday, without indicating where Powell fits in the equation.
The Omarova announcement, meanwhile, may be a nonstarter. Biden announced his intent to nominate her to lead the OCC in late September — giving senators and analysts weeks to unearth nuggets that could indicate her position on any number of issues — and perhaps even form conclusions or predict her prospects of approval before talking to her.
"I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more radical choice for any regulatory spot in our federal government," Sen. Pat Toomey, R-PA, the ranking member on the Senate Banking Committee, and one of Omarova’s fiercest critics, said on the Senate floor last month. "Ms. Omarova doesn’t just want tightened regulation of banks. What she wants [is] to, and I quote — this is her words — ‘effectively end banking as we know it.’ … She clearly has an aversion to anything like free market capitalism."
Toomey requested Omarova provide the committee with a copy of her thesis, "Karl Marx’s Economic Analysis and the Theory of Revolution in The Capital," to allow the committee to fully assess her nomination.
Moderate Democrats such as Sen. Jon Tester of Montana indicated last month to Politico and CNBC he has "concerns" about Omarova’s ability to serve at the OCC impartially. "I want to give her a fair shake," he told Politico. "I will hold off until after I meet with her."