(Bloomberg) -- The question has gone unanswered for months: Who were the Goldman Sachs bankers who complained so passionately about life on the lower rungs that the firm and its rivals gave raises to legions of rookies?
The unauthorized Goldman slide deck that went viral early this year, laying out the frustrations of 13 junior investment bankers, set off the closest thing modern Wall Street has ever had to a proletariat uprising from within. Surprisingly, a newbie at the center of the project has deep roots in the business.
Joey Coslet was a first-year analyst at Goldman when he played a key role in assembling the presentation that ricocheted around the industry and beyond, according to people with knowledge of the situation. His father, Jonathan Coslet, had been chief investment officer and is now vice chairman of TPG, a major Goldman client.
The deck -- innocuously titled “Working Conditions Survey” -- struck a nerve by vividly describing the toll of 120-hour work weeks. That prompted months of debate over whether it’s time to ease up on the industry’s newcomers. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. renewed its pledge to give junior bankers Saturdays off and boosted their base pay to $110,000. There’s now virtually no major firm left offering less than six figures.
“Communication is a core part of our culture and we welcome feedback from all our employees irrespective of title,” a spokesman for Goldman said in a statement. The company declined to make Joey Coslet, who’s still at the firm, available for an interview.
Coslet, 23, interned at Goldman and TPG before graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and returning to the bank. The firm placed him on a coveted team catering to the investment-banking needs of the red-hot tech sector.
Investment-banking analyst programs are notoriously intense, but also seen as so beneficial to a successful Wall Street career that it’s not uncommon for the offspring of well-connected financiers to start out as junior bankers at top firms.
Jonathan Coslet has been a fixture at TPG since its founding in 1993, after starting at Michael Milken’s Drexel Burnham Lambert in the 1980s, where he overlapped with David Solomon, who now leads Goldman.
When Covid-19 struck the U.S. in early 2020, firms such as Goldman faced a deluge of calls from corporate clients, and the demands on junior bankers intensified. First, clients sought emergency funding, then they went on a record spree of acquisitions, snapping up weakened rivals. Junior bankers, logged on remotely, fielded endless demands for research and presentations.
The extra deck prepared by Goldman’s rookies found that the survey’s respondents usually went to bed around 3 a.m. It said the workload was taking a toll on their physical and mental health. The February document hastened discussion among Goldman executives about how to manage the workload.
But by mid-March it had somehow escaped Goldman and was being blast-emailed from inbox to inbox at firms around the globe. Soon, industry leaders started talking about it publicly, and a parade of firms announced raises and other reforms. Solomon has said the bank is reallocating resources, hiring more junior bankers to share the load and more strictly enforcing boundaries to ensure they get breaks.
On Facebook, the elder Coslet congratulated his son on graduation last May.
“So excited you will be working just a block away from my office,” he wrote. “Lots of lunches, if they let you out of work.” He added a smiley face.
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