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Fear in Singapore at Goldman Sachs' planned commodities cuts

Commodities trading jobs at Goldman Sachs in Singapore are likely to be lightly trimmed rather than severely cut back, if the bank goes ahead with reported plans to reduce its commodities headcount globally. At least, this is the hope. 

Goldman Sachs executives are considering making cuts to the firm’s commodities-trading operations, including pulling back from trading iron ore, platinum and other metals, reports the Wall Street Journal. Commodities trading was a huge money-maker for the bank in the early 2000s, but the unit suffered its worst ever year in 2017 and profits didn’t pick up by much in 2018.

A spokesperson for Goldman says the bank has not yet "reached any conclusions from our business-review process".

If the axe falls on commodities traders, Singapore is likely to be affected. Goldman uses the Republic as its APAC commodities hub, including for metals trading, the product area said to be most at risk of global redundancies. The firm also employs operations and middle-office commodities staff in Singapore.

Goldman's Singapore-based team is lean, making it hard to see where cuts would fall unless entire desks are closed. The firm made some senior additions to its Singapore commodities team over the past two years. Last August, it relocated Amir Ravan, a London-based head of precious metals trading, into a senior non-oil role in the Republic. In 2017, Andy Huang joined GS as an executive director after almost 10 years working in commodities derivatives sales at Macquarie.

Where are the commodities jobs at Goldman Sachs in Singapore?

If you want a commodities-related job at Goldman in Singapore this year, however, you stand a better chance of landing one as a technologist or strat (working on electronic trading systems), not as a trader.

As elsewhere at Goldman in Asia and globally, there are strats focused on commodities in Singapore – and they are in demand. The bank has already opened up an early-2019 vacancy for a commodities desk strat, at associate/VP level, according to its careers site. It involves working with a “small team of quants and developers” on market-making commodities analytics tools for the Asia trading desk.

Goldman already bases several commodities technologists and strats in Singapore, including executive director Paritosh Ingole, a technology manager for APAC commodities front-office technology, who leads the design and development of commodities trading applications. Ingole shifted into his role just last year having previously worked in asset management technology for GS.

What happens if you lose your GS commodities job?

If you find yourself out of work as a commodities trader this year, you face a difficult job market, especially if you want to get a role at a large bank. “On the whole, commodities desks at banks have been shrinking here in Singapore,” says Joshua Tan, team lead for commodities at recruiters Selby Jennings in Singapore. “And hiring for commodities desks is generally thin.”

Recruitment is more buoyant at physical commodities trading firms such as Glencore, Trafigura and Cargill. “Pure third-party physical commodities traders with key shorts or serving niche markets will always be in demand,” says Tan.

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: smortlock@efinancialcareers.com

Image credit: LeonidKos, Getty

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AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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