Goldman Sachs says it's become a magnet for top technology talent
If you're an extravagantly talented technologist, you might want to get yourself to Goldman Sachs. The firm, which employs over 9,000 people in engineering jobs, says its appeal to the best developers in the market is intensifying. Goldman is increasingly attracting, "top-notch engineering talent," said CEO David Solomon in yesterday's call with investors, citing recent hires without naming any names.
Solomon was almost certainly referring to Marco Argenti and Atte Lahtiranta, who joined last month as chief information officer and chief technology officer respectively. Both have non-finance pedigrees: Argenti comes from Amazon Web Services (AWS), where he ran cloud services; Lahtiranta (who describes himself as a 'miracle monger') comes from Nokia, where he ran the 'developer experience marketplace.' Both joined as partners: you clearly don't need a finance technology background to work in engineering at Goldman Sachs any more.
Like most banks, Goldman is a big spender when it comes to technology, and that expenditure is only increasing. In the first nine months of 2019, the firm spent $859m on technology and communications, up 13% on last year. Solomon is due to unveil a new strategy in January 2020, the contents of which have already been heavily flagged. - In future, Goldman Sachs is going to be all about 'platforms' of the kind that generate recurring revenues with minimal additional cost. Someone needs to build those platforms. And this is where the "top notch engineering talent" comes in.
Goldman's appeal to technologists certainly seems to have improved. Two years ago, Glassdoor was full of gripes from current and former Goldman technologists complaining of bureaucracy and overwork. Today, technologists at Goldman Sachs give the firm four out of five stars in Glassdoor reviews and praise its "smart people", "innovative environment" and use of new technologies.
Even so, some at Goldman Sachs may have taken issue with Solomon's use of the Apple Card and Marcus as exemplars of the firm's new technological excellence. The Apple Card ('Project Cookie') especially had a painful birth with thousands of engineers reassigned from other areas of the firm to work on the launch after a security vulnerability was revealed. Developers at the firm complained of overwork in its wake. Many of Goldman's Marcus developers are based in Dallas, where analyst salaries are just $52k a year according to the H1B salary database. Long hours are less tolerable when you're on less than six figures.
Even so, Goldman does have some exciting platforms for its engineers. Key among them is Marquee, the platform which makes Goldman's SecDB pricing and risk database directly available to clients. Back in February, Goldman CFO Stephen Scherr said Marquee had 14,000 unique users a month and 10 million direct client data requests over the same period. Yesterday, Scherr said Marquee now has over 50,000 monthly active users and over 1 million API data requests every day. Other businesses in Goldman Sachs may be shrinking, but Marquee definitely is not. Accordingly, Goldman is currently advertising over 30 Marquee jobs globally, including for a cloud engineer to help migrate the product to AWS - something Argenti should be able to help with.
As products like Marquee grow in importance, the other perennial complaint of Goldman's technologists - that they're treated as 'second class citizens' compared to front office salespeople and traders is likely to fall away.
Solomon's Goldman Sachs is all about the preeminence of platforms and the technologists who build those platforms. Equity salestrading jobs at Goldman have already been obliterated by machines and reading between the lines, some fixed income jobs are coming next. - Scherr said yesterday that the firm is "making considerable progress" pricing and executing investment grade credit trades systematically.
Investment grade credit traders' days are numbered. Developers who can code trading systems are the future, and the more Goldman relies on platforms the more important the platform builders will become.
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