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Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

Goldman Sachs Departures Causing Concern


The unexpected departures of two young Goldman Sachs Group star partners

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has triggered rumors and confusion inside of the Wall Street firm. 

Yesterday, employees at Goldman received emails from Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and President Gary Cohn informing them that two co-heads of the firm's securities division were "to retire" from the company. Both Edward Eisler and David Heller are relatively young men in their early 40s. They were two of the youngest members of Goldman's management committee, which essentially runs the firm.

The memos announcing the departures did not disclose anything about the reasons Eisler and Heller were leaving. Neither could be reached for comment.

But inside Goldman, people are whispering that the departures may have been triggered by a reduction in the firm's trading business, which would have also hit the compensation the two received.

"This year each of them were getting paid about a third of what they got a couple of years ago," one person at the firm said.

Junior traders at the firm were stunned at the loss. Some predict that many partners may leave in the coming year.

"It makes you wonder if Goldman can really keep top talent on board," an equities trader at Goldman said.

"If they can't get paid, many of the senior guys will probably just decide it isn't worth staying on," another Goldmanite explained.

Others at the firm say that they don't think the departures were triggered by reductions in pay. According to one theory discussed by Goldman insiders, both men may have wanted to retire for several years, but felt that they couldn't leave while the firm was in crisis.

"We had 2008. Then the Abacus lawsuit. No one wanted to look like a rat fleeing a sinking ship. This is the first year in a long time in which things are close to normal, when you can safely retire," one managing director who has been with the firm for several years said.

Heller had been a partner at Goldman since 1999. Eisler since 2000.

Some at Goldman think the the departing executives may set out to start their own firm or join a smaller firm subject to fewer regulatory restrictions on trading. For now, both men are taking positions as "advisers" to the firm.

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