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Asian MDs make it big at Goldman

A disproportionate number of Asian managing directors hit the Goldman Sachs partnership jackpot this year.

With the partnership bonus pool at Goldman reportedly worth $10m this year, when the bank's list of partner-promotes was released last week, it was pored over by prospective employers, trophy-hunting wives and envious colleagues.

For Goldmanites in Asia the list highlighted two things: the importance of the region (promotions to partner from Asia comprised 22% of the total, although the Asian contribution to total headcount is only 14%) and Goldman's potentially suicidal bent for rewarding the whole crew rather than a few stars.

The stars this year are easy to name: anybody involved in Goldman's proprietary trading, and the bankers who worked on the Bank of China IPO.

On the $20 billion ICBC IPO in Hong Kong, the bank made almost $5 billion under Andrew Wolff. The special situations group under Jason Brown (SSG), originally set up to buy up distressed debt from the Chinese state banks, but which has since moved into private equity as the debt dried up, has also had a banner year.

But what about the head of Hong Kong investment banking? And the several people from the research side who have been rewarded, such as the Asia strategist Timothy Moe and bank analyst Roy Ramos.

"They guys are great at their jobs, but how much money are they generating," says one headhunter.

In investment banking, Goldman's collective approach to pay has always been unique. But with numbers this big at stake, the question is how long the real revenue generators will stand for it.

After all, as one specialist says, "Any senior Goldman banker can walk into another job anywhere he wants."

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