The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
Goldman Sachs is a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm that provides a wide range of financial services to a substantial and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments and individuals.
Business segments: Investment Banking, Institutional Client Services, Investing & Lending and Investment Management.
Management believes that a major strength and principal reason for the success of Goldman Sachs is the quality and dedication of our people and the shared sense of being part of a team. We strive to maintain a work environment that fosters professionalism, excellence, diversity, cooperation among our employees worldwide and high standards of business ethics.
Instilling the Goldman Sachs culture in all employees is a continuous process, in which training plays an important part. All employees are offered the opportunity to participate in education and periodic seminars that we sponsor at various locations throughout the world. Another important part of instilling the Goldman Sachs culture is our employee review process. Employees are reviewed by supervisors, co-workers and employees they supervise in a 360-degree review process that is integral to our team approach, and includes an evaluation of an employee’s performance with respect to risk management, compliance and diversity. As of December 2017, we had 36,600 total staff.
The financial services industry and all of our businesses are intensely competitive, and we expect them to remain so. Our competitors are other entities that provide investment banking, securities and investment management services and retail lending and deposit-taking products, as well as those entities that make investments in securities, commodities, derivatives, real estate, loans and other financial assets. These entities include brokers and dealers, investment banking firms, commercial banks, insurance companies, investment advisers, mutual funds, hedge funds, private equity funds, merchant banks, consumer finance companies and financial technology and other internet-based companies. We compete with some entities globally and with others on a regional, product or niche basis. Our competition is based on a number of factors, including transaction execution, products and services, innovation, reputation and price.
There has been substantial consolidation and convergence among companies in the financial services industry. Moreover, we have faced, and expect to continue to face, pressure to retain market share by committing capital to businesses or transactions on terms that offer returns that may not be commensurate with their risks. In particular, corporate clients seek such commitments (such as agreements to participate in their loan facilities) from financial services firms in connection with investment banking and other assignments.
Consolidation and convergence have significantly increased the capital base and geographic reach of some of our competitors, and have also hastened the globalization of the securities and other financial services markets. As a result, we have had to commit capital to support our international operations and to execute large global transactions. To take advantage of some of our most significant opportunities, we will have to compete successfully with financial institutions that are larger and have more capital and that may have a stronger local presence and longer operating history outside the U.S.
We also compete with smaller institutions that offer more targeted services, such as independent advisory firms. Some clients may perceive these firms to be less susceptible to potential conflicts of interest than we are, and, as described below, our ability to effectively compete with them could be affected by regulations and limitations on activities that apply to us but may not apply to them.
A number of our businesses are subject to intense price competition. Efforts by our competitors to gain market share have resulted in pricing pressure in our investment banking and client execution businesses and could result in pricing pressure in other of our businesses. For example, the increasing volume of trades executed electronically, through the internet and through alternative trading systems, has increased the pressure on trading commissions, in that commissions for electronic trading are generally lower than for non-electronic trading. It appears that this trend toward low-commission trading will continue. Price competition has also led to compression in the difference between the price at which a market participant is willing to sell an instrument and the price at which another market participant is willing to buy it (i.e., bid/offer spread), which has affected our market-making businesses. In addition, we believe that we will continue to experience competitive pressures in these and other areas in the future as some of our competitors seek to obtain market share by further reducing prices, and as we enter into or expand our presence in markets that may rely more heavily on electronic trading and execution.
We also compete on the basis of the types of financial products that we and our competitors offer. In some circumstances, our competitors may offer financial products that we do not offer and our clients may prefer.
The provisions of the U.S. Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act), the requirements promulgated by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (Basel Committee) and other financial regulation could affect our competitive position to the extent that limitations on activities, increased fees and compliance costs or other regulatory requirements do not apply, or do not apply equally, to all of our competitors or are not implemented uniformly across different jurisdictions. For example, the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act that prohibit proprietary trading and restrict investments in certain hedge and private equity funds differentiate between U.S.-based and non-U.S.-based banking organizations and give non-U.S.-based banking organizations greater flexibility to trade outside of the U.S. and to form and invest in funds outside the U.S.
Likewise, the obligations with respect to derivative transactions under Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Act depend, in part, on the location of the counterparties to the transaction. The impact of the Dodd-Frank Act and other regulatory developments on our competitive position will depend to a large extent on the manner in which the required rulemaking and regulatory guidance evolve, the extent of international convergence, and the development of market practice and structures under the new regulatory regimes as described further in “Regulation” below.
We also face intense competition in attracting and retaining qualified employees. Our ability to continue to compete effectively will depend upon our ability to attract new employees, retain and motivate our existing employees and to continue to compensate employees competitively amid intense public and regulatory scrutiny on the compensation practices of large financial institutions. Our pay practices and those of certain of our competitors are subject to review by, and the standards of, the FRB and other regulators inside and outside the U.S., including the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the U.K. We also compete for employees with institutions whose pay practices are not subject to regulatory oversight. Our businesses may be adversely affected if we are unable to hire and retain qualified employees for further information about the regulation of our compensation practices.
Investment Banking serves public and private sector clients around the world. We provide financial advisory services and help companies raise capital to strengthen and grow their businesses. We seek to develop and maintain long-term relationships with a diverse global group of institutional clients, including governments, states and municipalities. Our goal is to deliver to our institutional clients the entire resources of the firm in a seamless fashion, with investment banking serving as the main initial point of contact with Goldman Sachs.
Financial Advisory. Financial Advisory includes strategic advisory assignments with respect to mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, corporate defense activities, restructurings, spin-offs and risk management. In particular, we help clients execute large, complex transactions for which we provide multiple services, including cross-border structuring expertise. Financial Advisory also includes revenues from derivative transactions directly related to these client advisory assignments. We also assist our clients in managing their asset and liability exposures and their capital.
Underwriting. The other core activity of Investment Banking is helping companies raise capital to fund their businesses. As a financial intermediary, our job is to match the capital of our investing clients, who aim to grow the savings of millions of people, with the needs of our public and private sector clients, who need financing to generate growth, create jobs and deliver products and services. Our underwriting activities include public offerings and private placements, including local and cross-border transactions and acquisition financing, of a wide range of securities and other financial instruments, including loans. Underwriting also includes revenues from derivative transactions entered into with public and private sector clients in connection with our underwriting activities.
Equity Underwriting. We underwrite common and preferred stock and convertible and exchangeable securities. We regularly receive mandates for large, complex transactions and have held a leading position in worldwide public common stock offerings and worldwide initial public offerings for many years.
Debt Underwriting. We underwrite and originate various types of debt instruments, including investment-grade and high-yield debt, bank loans and bridge loans, including in connection with acquisition financing, and emerging- and growth-market debt, which may be issued by, among others, corporate, sovereign, municipal and agency issuers. In addition, we underwrite and originate structured securities, which include mortgage-related securities and other asset-backed securities.
Institutional Client Services
Institutional Client Services serves our clients who come to us to buy and sell financial products, raise funding and manage risk. We do this by acting as a market maker and offering market expertise on a global basis. Institutional Client Services makes markets and facilitates client transactions in fixed income, equity, currency and commodity products. In addition, we make markets in and clear client transactions on major stock, options and futures exchanges worldwide.
As a market maker, we provide prices to clients globally across thousands of products in all major asset classes and markets. At times we take the other side of transactions ourselves if a buyer or seller is not readily available and at other times we connect our clients to other parties who want to transact. Our willingness to make markets, commit capital and take risk in a broad range of products is crucial to our client relationships. Market makers provide liquidity and play a critical role in price discovery, which contributes to the overall efficiency of the capital markets.
Our clients are primarily institutions that are professional market participants, including investment entities whose ultimate clients include individual investors investing for their retirement, buying insurance or putting aside surplus cash in a deposit account.
Through our global sales force, we maintain relationships with our clients, receiving orders and distributing investment research, trading ideas, market information and analysis. Much of this connectivity between us and our clients is maintained on technology platforms and operates globally wherever and whenever markets are open for trading.
Institutional Client Services and our other businesses are supported by our Global Investment Research division, which, as of December 2017, provided fundamental research on approximately 3,000 companies worldwide and more than 40 national economies, as well as on industries, currencies and commodities.
Institutional Client Services generates revenues in the following ways:
- In large, highly liquid markets (such as markets for U.S. Treasury bills, large capitalization S&P 500 stocks or certain mortgage pass-through securities), we execute a high volume of transactions for our clients;
In less liquid markets (such as mid-cap corporate bonds, growth market currencies or certain non-agency mortgage-backed securities), we execute transactions for our clients for spreads and fees that are generally somewhat larger than those charged in more liquid markets;
We also structure and execute transactions involving customized or tailor-made products that address our clients’ risk exposures, investment objectives or other complex needs (such as a jet fuel hedge for an airline);
We provide financing to our clients for their securities trading activities, as well as securities lending and other prime brokerage services; and
In connection with our market-making activities, we maintain inventory, typically for a short period of time, in response to, or in anticipation of, client demand. We also hold inventory to actively manage our risk exposures that arise from these market-making activities. We carry our inventory at fair value with changes in valuation reflected in net revenues
Institutional Client Services activities are organized by asset class and include both “cash” and “derivative” instruments. “Cash” refers to trading the underlying instrument (such as a stock, bond or barrel of oil). “Derivative” refers to instruments that derive their value from underlying asset prices, indices, reference rates and other inputs, or a combination of these factors (such as an option, which is the right or obligation to buy or sell a certain bond or stock index on a specified date in the future at a certain price, or an interest rate swap, which is the agreement to convert a fixed rate of interest into a floating rate or vice versa).
Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Client Execution. Includes client execution activities related to making markets in both cash and derivative instruments for interest rate products, credit products, mortgages, currencies and commodities.
- Interest Rate Products. Government bonds (including inflation-linked securities) across maturities, other government-backed securities, repurchase agreements, and interest rate swaps, options and other derivatives.
Credit Products. Investment-grade corporate securities, high-yield securities, credit derivatives, exchange-traded funds, bank and bridge loans, municipal securities, emerging market and distressed debt, and trade claims.
Mortgages. Commercial mortgage-related securities, loans and derivatives, residential mortgage-related securities, loans and derivatives (including U.S. government agency-issued collateralized mortgage obligations and other securities and loans), and other asset-backed securities, loans and derivatives.
Currencies. Currency options, spot/forwards and other derivatives on G-10 currencies and emerging-market products.
Commodities. Commodity derivatives and, to a lesser extent, physical commodities, involving crude oil and petroleum products, natural gas, base, precious and other metals, electricity, coal, agricultural and other commodity products.
Equities. Includes equities client execution, commissions and fees, and securities services.
Equities Client Execution. We make markets in equity securities and equity-related products, including exchange-traded funds, convertible securities, options, futures and over-the-counter (OTC) derivative instruments, on a global basis. As a principal, we facilitate client transactions by providing liquidity to our clients, including with large blocks of stocks or derivatives, requiring the commitment of our capital.
We also structure and make markets in derivatives on indices, industry groups, financial measures and individual company stocks. We develop strategies and provide information about portfolio hedging and restructuring and asset allocation transactions for our clients. We also work with our clients to create specially tailored instruments to enable sophisticated investors to establish or liquidate investment positions or undertake hedging strategies. We are one of the leading participants in the trading and development of equity derivative instruments.
Our exchange-based market-making activities include making markets in stocks and exchange-traded funds, futures and options on major exchanges worldwide.
Commissions and Fees. We generate commissions and fees from executing and clearing institutional client transactions on major stock, options and futures exchanges worldwide, as well as OTC transactions. We provide our clients with access to a broad spectrum of equity execution services, including electronic “low-touch” access and more complex “high-touch” execution through both traditional and electronic platforms.
Securities Services. Includes financing, securities lending and other prime brokerage services.
- Financing Services. We provide financing to our clients for their securities trading activities through margin loans that are collateralized by securities, cash or other acceptable collateral. We earn a spread equal to the difference between the amount we pay for funds and the amount we receive from our client.
Securities Lending Services. We provide services that principally involve borrowing and lending securities to cover institutional clients’ short sales and borrowing securities to cover our short sales and otherwise to make deliveries into the market. In addition, we are an active participant in broker-to-broker securities lending and third-party agency lending activities.
Other Prime Brokerage Services. We earn fees by providing clearing, settlement and custody services globally. In addition, we provide our hedge fund and other clients with a technology platform and reporting which enables them to monitor their security portfolios and manage risk exposures.
Investing and Lending
Our investing and lending activities, which are typically longer-term, include our investing and relationship lending activities across various asset classes, primarily debt securities and loans, public and private equity securities, infrastructure and real estate. These activities include making investments, some of which are consolidated, through our merchant banking business and our special situations group. Some of these investments are made indirectly through funds that we manage. We also provide financing to corporate clients and individuals, including bank loans, personal loans and mortgages.
Equity Securities. We make corporate, real estate, infrastructure and other equity-related investments.
Debt Securities and Loans. We make corporate, real estate, infrastructure and other debt investments. In addition, we provide credit to clients through loan facilities and through secured loans, including secured loans to retail clients through our digital platform, Goldman Sachs Private Bank Select (GS Select). We also make unsecured loans to and accept deposits from retail clients through our digital platform, Marcus: by Goldman Sachs (Marcus).
Investment Management provides investment and wealth advisory services to help clients preserve and grow their financial assets. Our clients include institutions and high-net-worth individuals, as well as retail investors who primarily access our products through a network of third-party distributors around the world.
We manage client assets across a broad range of asset classes and investment strategies, including equity, fixed income and alternative investments. Alternative investments primarily includes hedge funds, credit funds, private equity, real estate, currencies, commodities, and asset allocation strategies. Our investment offerings include those managed on a fiduciary basis by our portfolio managers as well as strategies managed by third-party managers. We offer our investments in a variety of structures, including separately managed accounts, mutual funds, private partnerships, and other commingled vehicles.
We also provide customized investment advisory solutions designed to address our clients’ investment needs. These solutions begin with identifying clients’ objectives and continue through portfolio construction, ongoing asset allocation and risk management and investment realization. We draw from a variety of third-party managers as well as our proprietary offerings to implement solutions for clients.
We supplement our investment advisory solutions for high-net-worth clients with wealth advisory services that include income and liability management, trust and estate planning, philanthropic giving and tax planning. We also use our global securities and derivatives market-making capabilities to address clients’ specific investment needs.
Management and Other Fees. The majority of revenues in management and other fees is comprised of asset-based fees on client assets. The fees that we charge vary by asset class and distribution channel and are affected by investment performance as well as asset inflows and redemptions. Other fees we receive primarily include financial planning and counseling fees generated through our wealth advisory services provided by our subsidiary, The Ayco Company, L.P.
Assets under supervision include client assets where we earn a fee for managing assets on a discretionary basis. This includes net assets in our mutual funds, hedge funds, credit funds and private equity funds (including real estate funds), and separately managed accounts for institutional and individual investors. Assets under supervision also include client assets invested with third-party managers, bank deposits and advisory relationships where we earn a fee for advisory and other services, but do not have investment discretion. Assets under supervision do not include the self-directed brokerage assets of our clients. Long-term assets under supervision represent assets under supervision excluding liquidity products. Liquidity products represent money market and bank deposit assets.
Incentive Fees. In certain circumstances, we are also entitled to receive incentive fees based on a percentage of a fund’s or a separately managed account’s return, or when the return exceeds a specified benchmark or other performance targets. Such fees include overrides, which consist of the increased share of the income and gains derived primarily from our private equity and credit funds when the return on a fund’s investments over the life of the fund exceeds certain threshold returns.
Transaction Revenues. We receive commissions and net spreads for facilitating transactional activity in high-net-worth client accounts. In addition, we earn net interest income primarily associated with client deposits and margin lending activity undertaken by such clients.