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Goldman Sachs is slowing down tech hiring

Krystal Hu
The prominent investment bank has been on a hiring spree for tech talents.  EFE/ Justin Lane

Goldman Sachs (GS), the elite Wall Street bank which has been fiercely competing against Silicon Valley for tech talent, is tapping the brakes on tech division hiring.

Elisha Wiesel, Goldman’s chief information officer, spoke about the shift while touting the unit’s growth over the past year at a town hall for company engineers last week. Yahoo Finance obtained a transcript of the talk.

Tech recruiting at Goldman this past year has been “pretty staggering,” according to the transcript. Goldman hired 775 NAPAs (New Associate Programmer Analysts) in 2017, compared to 430 in 2016. The number of lateral hires jumped to 864 last year from 335 in 2016 — a 258% jump. So far this year the total number of lateral hires is 767. “So the machine is zooming,” Wiesel said.

But he indicated at the town hall that it’s now time to slow things down.

“Now we’re skiing, we’ve got the momentum. We just need to make sure we’re not hitting that uncontrolled speed. So we’re going to have to do a turn, but turning is fun,” said Wiesel, who employed plenty of metaphors in his speech. “At this level of growth, we’re starting to get to the point where we’re going to jeopardize, potentially, until revenue now catches up with some of the growth we’ve made, some of the highest-level metrics that govern the firm and the way the investing community views us.”

Goldman Sachs CIO Elisha Wiesel speaks at the town hall meeting on May 2nd, 2018. (Goldman Sachs)

When asked for comment, Goldman Sachs spokesperson Tiffany Galvin-Cohen said in an email: “Only a few months into 2018 and we’ve already hired more engineers this year than ever before. That said, our goal isn’t to be the biggest — it’s to be the best at what we do. In the same way that we have and will continue to prioritize recruiting extraordinary engineers, we plan to invest the same energy integrating all of our new colleagues into the firm so they have a positive experience and are able to get busy solving problems and adding value for our clients.”

After rapid expansion, the budget and revenue seem to have put some pressure on one of the fastest growing divisions of Goldman Sachs. Wiesel said the focus should now be to “invest in your people and empower them” and “transitioning from hire, hire, hire, grow, grow, grow toward executing, execute, execute.”

How Goldman transformed into a tech company

The fifth-largest U.S. bank by assets has repeatedly branded itself as a “technology company.”

CEO Lloyd Blankfein wrote in his 2017 annual letter that the firm has been focused on hiring individuals with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). He noted that one-quarter of the firm works in an engineering-related role and more than one-third of campus analyst hires last year majored in a STEM field.

Goldman Sachs has even raised the annual salary for beginning engineers in New York to six figures, on par with what top-tier tech companies pay. Last year, the company also changed its dress code to casual, so that employees can wear jeans and T-shirts to get in and out of its offices.

Internally, Goldman recently launched Goldman Accelerate, an incubator program to encourage employees to work on their own startups. The company also tries to improve its internal mobility to provide more opportunities for employees to work in various teams, in an effort to retain them longer.

Wiesel said the shift in hiring doesn’t mean there will be no hiring.

“We always have an open door to exceptional candidates, certainly have an eye towards diversity,” he said in the speech.

NOTE: An earlier version of this story, NAPAs were identified as “summer interns who are offered full-time jobs.” This has been changed to “New Associate Programmer Analysts.”

Krystal Hu covers technology and economy for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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