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Goldman Tightens Golden Handcuffs for a Booming Trading Desk

  • Portfolio trading staff are told to sign longer non-competes
  • The unit has been a driver of growing profits in recent years
Goldman Sachs Headquarters Ahead Of Earnings Figures
Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg

Some of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s most in-demand traders were confronted with a surprising rider before collecting their rewards for 2020.

The firm asked staff in its portfolio-trading group to sign a six-month non-compete clause to get bonuses for the breakout year, making it harder for them to defect to rivals, according to people with knowledge of the matter. While a non-compete of that length is normal for more senior ranks, it’s often half that or less for more junior levels.

As Wall Street prepares for the possibility that 2020’s raucous markets will cool off, trading leaders face the prospect of leaning anew on innovative products that have chalked rapid growth in recent years. Portfolio trading -- in which baskets of securities are bundled -- is especially lucrative. And it’s an area where Goldman has quickly established a dominant position, according to industry watchers.

A company spokeswoman declined to comment.