November 6, 2015 / 2:12 AM / in 2 years

Goldman Sachs to promote junior bankers faster in bid to keep talent

A Goldman Sachs sign is seen above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in the Manhattan borough of New York January 24, 2014.Lucas Jackson

(Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) unveiled a series of changes designed to retain junior bankers, including promoting them more quickly and encouraging mobility within the firm.

The changes come as Goldman and other banks have taken steps over the last several years to prevent defections by junior employees, known as analysts and associates, given increased hiring competition from technology companies, hedge funds and private equity firms who may offer higher pay and better hours.

After completing two years as an analyst, bankers will for the first time be guaranteed a rotation to a different area or geography within the business over the next 12 months, according to an internal memo from investment banking division co-heads Richard Gnodde, David Solomon and John Waldron.

A Goldman Sachs spokesman confirmed the contents of the memo.

Promotion to associate will occur after an analyst's second year, rather than the third year when it now takes place, the memo said. Promotion decisions will also be communicated to analysts earlier in their first year.

Goldman is also building out its internal technology and resources to help reduce rote time-consuming tasks for junior bankers.

Goldman and other banks maintain that Wall Street still remains an attractive career option for recent college graduates despite increasingly lucrative options in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.

"Despite the ebbs and flows, ups and downs, there are still a lot of people who are interested in working at Goldman Sachs," Solomon said in a press briefing on Thursday. "But in the competitive world that we live in, it's important that we don't take that for granted for one minute and that we're constantly in a position to make sure we're doing all the things we need to do to be as competitive as we can be."

The changes are a result of nine-month long task force comprised of senior Goldman partners as well as interviews with hundreds of junior employees at the firm.

Wall Street firms have taken steps over the last several years to improve the lives of its young employees in a profession notorious for all-nighters and 100-hour work weeks.

In 2013, Goldman told its junior bankers to take Saturdays off and also formed a task force to address quality of life issues.

The firm last year raised pay for its analysts by 20 percent, bringing up base pay to $85,000 for first year analysts.

Solomon said Goldman has seen "tangible results" with junior banker retention as a result of some of the changes the firm has made in recent years, but declined to give specific figures.

Reporting by Olivia Oran in New York; Editing by Christian Plumb

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