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36% of students joining Goldman Sachs leave in 2 years

As we noted earlier, getting into Goldman Sachs out of university is very, very hard. It seems that fewer than 2% of those who apply are accepted. However, our research suggests that a substantial proportion of the students who land analyst jobs at Goldman don't stay there - and that it's easier to get in later as a result.

We looked at our profiles of students who joined Goldman's analyst class in 2015. None of them have left: if you're one of the fortunate few to land a job at Goldman, you're clearly not going to throw it all in within 12 months of joining.

And then we looked at our profiles of students who joined Goldman Sachs in 2014. Of 11 of those we profiled, four had already gone. In other words, 36% had left.

Where had they gone to? One (Milana Shapira) is in global business development and investor relations with Hello Fresh, a food box delivery service, in Berlin. One, (Thomas Sukno) is now working for SocGen in equity derivatives. Another, (Vitalii Likhanskyi) is now working in private equity for the Blackstone Group. And the last, (Aurelien Benoit) is working in private equity for Stirling Square Capital Partners.

The exits from Goldman may, or may not, have been voluntary. They are taken from a small sample, but they suggest that just because Goldman Sachs is capable of attracting 250,000 graduate applicants in a year, it's not necessarily able to hold onto them long term.

Goldman did not immediately respond to a request for information on whether this level of departures is typical. However, the bank has launched several initiatives to retain junior staff in recent years, including a 'Saturday Rule,' accelerated promotions for analysts (who are promoted to associate in two years instead of three), and an attempt to automate the most boring bits of analysts' jobs. Goldman has also given analysts' two year fixed term contracts in an attempt to stop them leaving for private equity firms.- All suggesting that retention is an issue.

None of these initiatives seem to have dissuaded Shapira, Sukno, Likhanskyi or Benoit from leaving Goldman. Sukno seemingly went first - after 12 months, followed by Shapira - after 14 months, Likhanskyi  - after 19 months, and Benoit - after 24 months. As we noted a few months ago, it usually helps to spend at least two years in banking if you want to leave for private equity. 

The exits help explain why senior HR staff at banks (not just Goldman) complain that today's students treat banking as a training ground: they come, get trained, get the name on their CVs, and move on.

The good news is that as junior staff leave Goldman, they create vacancies which make it easier to find a role at the firm when you're experienced. Lloyd Blankfein said recently that 313,000 people applied for 9,700 open positions at Goldman Sachs in 2015. If 250,000 of them were applying for around 4,000 graduate jobs and internships, the implication is that the remaining 63,000 people were applying for 5,700 more experienced roles. This in turn would imply that the acceptance rate for experienced positions at Goldman is in the region of 10%.

In other words, why bother applying as a student when you can increase the odds of getting hired by starting at a rival bank and applying to Goldman Sachs later on?

Photo credit: ESCAPE by just remembering dreams is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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