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Goldman Sachs partner on $35m: "It's not about 120 hour weeks"

Julian Salisbury, Goldman Sachs’ chief investment officer of asset & wealth management, is a big deal at the firm. Last time we looked (March 2022), he was earning $35m and was one of Goldman's highest earning employees. Promoted to managing director in 2005 and partner in 2008, Salisbury is also one of Goldman's most enduring leaders. He's worked across the firm, from research to investing and London to Moscow. But his finance career wasn't always about high profile front office jobs. Nor has it been about grinding out the hours. 

Speaking during the second day of the LSE Alternative Investments Conference, Salisbury said he didn't always aspire to work in banking. He was once a sports scientist - and aspiring Olympic kayaker - before deciding that the life of an athlete wasn’t for him. After qualifying as an accountant, he moved into Goldman Sachs’ middle office, where he worked in product control.

It's often presumed that if you start in the middle office, you'll end up staying there, but Salisbury escaped. To do so, he says you need to be, "very proactive on taking on new stuff… You have to be continually taking on new things and learning.”

In product control, Salisbury says he wasn't working "the typical hundred hour week" (although he wouldn't comment on whether this stereotype of Goldman working hours was accurate). This gave him time to take evening and weekend courses in derivatives and bond math. 

The world of finance isn’t as complicated as newcomers expect, says Salisbury, it's simply “shrouded in techno-jargon.” He moved from the middle office to an equity research role, and his front office career began. 

Succeeding in banking isn't simply about the grind, says Salisbury. It's about adding value, doing better and maximizing personal impact. "Don't underestimate the benefits of intensity," he adds. "It's not about putting in 120 hour weeks, it's about intensity. Constant self-improvement. If you don't do that, it's okay, but if you want to do well, you have to constantly push yourself.

“Once you’ve come in through the door - are you making a difference every day?” 

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AUTHORZeno Toulon
  • ph
    28 January 2023

    These bosses are so badly overpaid, and the people doing the grunt work badly underpaid and quick to be canned.

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