Goldman Pushes Junior Investment Bankers to Take Weekends Off

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., this year’s top merger adviser, is discouraging investment banking analysts from working weekends as it overhauls demands placed on entry-level employees and the support they receive.

Goldman Sachs developed a “junior banker task force” of executives from around the world earlier this year to improve analysts’ work environment and career development, said Michael DuVally, a company spokesman. The bank will have 332 analysts in its 2014 class, up 23 percent from 2012, he said.

Wall Street firms are working to guard the best recruits from poaching by rivals such as private-equity funds. New York-based Goldman Sachs decided last year to stop offering two-year contracts to investment-banking analysts, instead making them full-time employees from the start. It plans to give analysts more-predictable working hours and provide more opportunities to get feedback from managers, DuVally said.

“The goal is for our analysts to want to be here for a career,” David Solomon, Goldman’s co-head of investment banking, said in an e-mailed statement. “We want them to be challenged, but also to operate at a pace where they’re going to stay here and learn important skills that are going to stick. This is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Morgan Stanley abandoned an attempt this year to block first-year bankers from talking with recruiters for outside firms after employees complained, people with knowledge of the matter said in April.

Pay Declining

The moves seek to combat the view of early careers on Wall Street as filled with 100-hour weeks and no time off. They come as average pay is dropping at the largest U.S. banks. Goldman Sachs cut the amount it set aside for employee compensation by 5 percent in the first nine months of the year, even as revenue climbed by 2 percent.

Analysts typically make base salaries in a range of $70,000 to $90,000, with bonuses bringing the total compensation figure to as much as $140,000, according to New York-based compensation consultant Johnson Associates Inc. The junior-banker title doesn’t refer to research analysts who recommend stocks to investors.

Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein told the firm’s interns earlier this year that they shouldn’t ignore pursuits outside of finance, noting that he was a history major and his predecessor Hank Paulson studied English literature.

“You have to be interesting, you have to have interests away from the narrow thing of what you do,” Blankfein, 59, said in an address that was rebroadcast online. “You have to be somebody who somebody else wants to talk to.”