Goldman Sachs’ account of how 22 year-olds earn $180k a year

You might have thought that Goldman Sachs would be a bit sick of the idea of a presentation detailing the amount of work that junior bankers do.  After all, it was one such presentation last year, compiled by a group of thirteen disgruntled first years, which generated a storm of negative publicity and was at least partly responsible for setting off the extraordinary round of salary inflation which last year got Goldman Sachs first year analyst compensation to a $110k basic salary plus a $70k bonus.

The Goldman human resources team are undaunted, though – this year, for recruiting purposes, they’ve put together their own typical “Day In The Life of an Analyst”, which has been leaked to Business Insider. 

The presentation doesn’t mention specific numbers of hours, but it has two tasks before “eat breakfast” and four (plus a trip to the gym) after “eat dinner”, so candidates ought to have a pretty good idea of what they’re getting into.  It doesn’t oversell the job – the “typical day” includes being on a conference call with a client CEO and CFO as well as being in the room in a meeting with an MD, but unlike some management consultancy recruiting material, there’s no suggestion that you’ll be giving advice to captains of industry from day one.  Most of the tasks are mundane but accurately described things that a junior analyst would be likely to do – “open up Excel model and set up new data table”, “make text changes”, “set up pages in PowerPoint”.

In fact, if anyone ends up disappointed by the gap between image and reality, it’s likely to be because they end up having too little work to do, not too much.  The analyst in the presentation seems to be staffed on two teams – “Team B” is a live deal requiring calls with lawyers and clients, while “Team A” seems to be at an advanced stage of a pitch, with a meeting on the next day.

That’s in many ways close to the ideal workload for an analyst – there’s never a dull moment, but the work can be managed and prioritized.  If Team A wins the deal, or Teams C (and D, and E) suddenly pop up requiring more help, then things will get stressful in the way everyone expects.  But what if the work dries up?

It’s an entirely different kind of stress when your “typical day” starts before breakfast with “Read about redundancies elsewhere on the Street”, carries on through “post-mortem meeting for why Team Z missed the only IPO this quarter” and finishes after dinner with “gossip with friends about which teams might get cut”.  Even the sense of purpose can desert you in bear markets – there’s all the difference in the world between “revise slides for team pitch tomorrow” and “revise slides for MD’s spec presentation next month”.

Nobody knows what kind of conditions prospective applicants for the 2023 internship program (at whom this presentation was aimed) will face when they eventually enter the workforce.  But there’s certainly a chance that junior bankers will look back on 2021 and reflect that being overworked isn’t necessarily the worst thing that can happen to you.

 Daniel Davies –


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