Developers now make up a quarter of Goldman Sachs’ workforce

The leading finance firm says it's now competing with Silicon Valley tech giants for talent.
14 February 2020

Headquarters of Goldman Sachs in the financial district of London. Source: AFP

With the emergence of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, machine learning (ML), and big data, finance is one of the most disrupted sectors. The innovations mushrooming from the effect are digital wallets, chatbots with financial knowledge, and smart contracts. 

The finance sector is one of the keenest investors in emerging technology. Just shy of two-thirds (64 percent) of financial services leaders expect to be mass AI adopters within the next two years. The industry is also ahead of others with blockchain — enabling faster processing and quicker settlement of trades.

However, these digital innovations require teams of developers, data scientists, and tech specialists.

At Goldman Sachs’ Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco, the Wall Street giant’s co-Chief Investment Officer, George Lee, explained how the firm is on a tech hiring spree in a bid to rapidly expand its engineering talent. The investment bank currently staffs 10,000 developers, making up a quarter of its total workforce. 

Last year, the leading financial firm celebrated a memorable 150th birthday announcing fourth-quarter profit that exceeded expectations by US$1.59 per share. Now, the investment bank is turning up the knob which means it must go head-to-head with tech giants — such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google — for future talent.

“The trend is very much toward technology companies and we need to compete at that level,” said Lee. 

Last year, Goldman achieved several milestones by releasing new products like the Apple Card, the credit card it launched with the iPhone maker last year. It has also made headway into automated support, introducing a robo advisor to help with consulting small clients. 

But the firm is keenly aware that the finance sector is at continued risk of disruption, with new fintechs reimagining customer experience, delivering enhanced services and new security solutions.

Lee explained the road to hiring top engineers required some shifts in the firm’s rigid organizational structure. Wanting to leverage software development’s ‘open-source’ approach, a more distributed workforce is being adopted, with developers working from cities across the globe — some of the key locations include India, Poland, and Dallas (the US). 

This has been a challenge for the Goldman Sachs’ strict working operations — Lee said the firm had to navigate and facilitate these preferences while remaining mindful of company policies. 

As part of the aggressive hiring strategy, the bank is tapping into the graduate talent pool by focusing on recruiting efforts at college campuses, but it isn’t the only global financial firm that is hungry for tech talents, with JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citi also getting their fair share of digitally skilled workforce. 

In that sense, the leading investment firm isn’t just up against tech giants but also faces more familiar rivals in its quest for tech talent.