Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s (GS - Get Report) effort to slash costs by moving jobs to low-cost locales like Warsaw, Poland, and Bangalore, India, is paying off - cutting average employee compensation by 4.3% last year while helping to cover CEO Lloyd Blankfein's 9% raise.
The Wall Street firm added 2,200 employees in 2017, bringing its worldwide total to 36,600 as of year-end, according to an annual report published last week. Yet average compensation per employee fell to $323,852 from $338,575 the prior year.
Action Alerts Plus holding Goldman Sachs didn't provide a regional breakdown of its employees, but in recent presentations executives have said that the push starting in 2011 to relocate employees to lower-cost "strategic locations" has cut expenses by about $2.8 billion per year. Without the savings, the firm would have posted a 19% decline in pre-tax profit last year instead of an 8% increase, making it harder for the Goldman Sachs board of directors to justify Blankfein's raise to $24 million.
The offshoring effort by New York-based Goldman Sachs comes as President Donald Trump has pushed some U.S. companies to create more jobs domestically and abandon plans to relocate factories to lower-cost locales like Mexico. Two of the president's most senior economic officials, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, are former Goldman Sachs executives.
A Goldman Sachs spokeswoman declined to comment.
Blankfein's $24 million pay package last year compares with $23 million each for the chiefs of rival U.S. banks Bank of America Corp. (BAC - Get Report) and Action Alerts Plus holding Citigroup Inc. (C - Get Report) , both of which generate multiples of Goldman Sachs's net income and employ five times as many people.
The average CEO in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index of publicly traded companies gets about $13 million a year in total compensation, according to the AFL-CIO, a federation of labor unions. The average for production and non-supervisory workers is about $38,000. The New York Lotto jackpot is currently set at $6.2 million, according to the state's gaming commission.
Officials in the Trump administration have insisted that the recently enacted cuts to U.S. corporate tax rates could prompt more companies to create jobs at home. The reality is that many people in poorer countries are simply willing to work for less.
Since 2011, Goldman Sachs has added about 1,900 employees in Bengaluru - the official name for Bangalore - and about 500 in Warsaw, according to a company presentation in November. The bank also added 400 employees in the Dallas area and 1,400 in Salt Lake City.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street firm has reduced employees by about 800 in New York, New Jersey, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong, among the world's most expensive places to live.
The low-cost operating venues - referred to by Goldman Sachs management as "strategic locations" -- now account for about 30% of the Wall Street firm's headcount globally, according to the presentation. That proportion has increased from 25% in early 2016.
The offshoring push isn't Blankfein's only cost-cutting effort. Goldman Sachs has also culled its ranks of partners and managing directors -- senior bankers and traders -- to hire more analysts and associates, typically junior-level jobs that come with lower pay packages.
"The pyramid has gotten a lot pointier at the top and broader at the base," Blankfein said at an investment conference in February 2016.
Yet in terms of its pointiness at the top, Goldman Sachs looks more like an ice pick.
Based on the 2017 disclosures, Blankfein earned in 3.5 days what the average employee made in an entire year.