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Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City: Good Skiing, Miserable Encounters

Are you being offered a job at Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City? Should I take it? There are definitely a lot of opportunities there. Since 2000, Salt Lake City, Utah has been home to Goldman Sachs’ US back office and claims the company’s 3rd largest presence in North America. Both downtown offices are a few blocks from the Salt Lake Temple, the headquarters of the Mormon Church, and there is another office for Marcus employees out of town. High turnover ensures a constant need for new talent, but is Salt Lake really a good place to work for Goldman Sachs?

One of the best reasons to live in Salt Lake – as Goldman points out in their city guide – it’s the great outdoors. There are five national parks nearby and some of America’s best ski areas are within 30 minutes of the office. Utah Financiers can put their Patagonia vests for the outdoor use they are intended for. Although Goldman is unlikely to respect the ‘30cm ruler‘ where the local greyhounds take the morning to ski after the overnight snow.

The other advantage of Salt Lake is that it offers graduates from non-target schools employment with a company whose New York and San Francisco offices prefer candidates from target schools with traditional majors. Getting a foot in the door can be invaluable in finance. Goldman Sachs is very selective, and once you’ve declared work for the company in Salt Lake City, internal mobility may mean you can work elsewhere.

What Juniors at Goldman’s Salt Lake City Office Are Saying About Their Work

We spoke to the juniors at Goldman’s office in Salt Lake City about what it’s really like there. 50% of Goldman’s jobs in Salt Lake City are now in revenue-generating divisions (the front office), but there is also a call center and operational jobs.

The main grievance of juniors seems to be that, at least in operational positions, they are not realizing their potential. A associated informed us that his job involves “extreme volumes of pressing buttons and filling out checklists.” This may be the reason why “most juniors leave SLC within the first 2-3 years”.

Salt Lake City juniors at Goldman Sachs can move into other Goldman offices – more than 30 have already done so this year. However, we also encountered complaints that Goldman officials in Salt Lake City would not facilitate an internal transfer of operations to something more attractive elsewhere. It’s not easy to hire in Salt Lake City and therefore no manager wants to see a junior leave.

It’s not just the push of buttons in operational roles that puts some people off. Salt Lake City juniors earn less than their New York counterparts. Based on 2021 H1B Visa Data, starting salaries for Salt Lake City analysts at Goldman Sachs were $50,000, rising to about $65,000 for a first-year associate. Bonuses in Salt Lake City can be as low as $3,000. By comparison, first-year analysts in front office positions at Goldman in Manhattan earn salaries of $110,000 and can earn bonuses that are double their base.

There are advantages. Hours are shorter in Salt Lake City than in New York, where 80+ hour weeks are the norm. But you’ll still be working more than 40 hours and your pay won’t drop to account for the overage. A Salt Lake City associate who worked on a crew that averaged 55 hours a week in Utah told us he was paid 0.5 times his standard rate for overtime and it was “awful” . However, this has not been confirmed by the firm, and it is likely that he was working on a contract basis.

Salt Lake employees can let off steam only by skiing on double black diamonds or rock climbing in the Moab desert. Strict drinking laws imposed by the Mormon population mean there are only two nightclubs and the bar scene was generously described by a Goldman employee as “up and coming” while the scene meetings is “difficult”.

Despite the negatives, there is mobility for top performers in Salt Lake, both within Goldman and outside, and few analysts join the impression that their stay in Utah will rival with life on Wall Street. Banks need back offices and it is an ongoing struggle for them to appropriately balance compensation, career incentives and lifestyle. Citi, for example, is trying to attract juniors to Malaga to work less, earn less and live near the beach.

What should the underutilized Salt Lake City analyst do? Maybe they should turn to technology. The region has been dubbed the “Silicon Slopes” due to the prevalence of tech companies. If all juniors do is push buttons for a big company, maybe they’d rather do it in an office that’s not in the constant shadow of 200 West Street? But Silicon Valley has its own shadow under which there is plenty of room to grumble.

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picture by Marcus Bellamy on Unsplash

Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion