Simon English: Goldman's just a bank – with overly confident people

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The Independent Online

How do you manage to get a job at Goldman Sachs? There's the Oxford double-first, the family connection, and the 17 interviews route (or some combination thereof). But it can be much more straightforward than that. It is just a bank. I asked my mate Hanish (he's an interdealer broker, now working elsewhere in the City) how it was for him.

He says: "I'd left college and there were no jobs. I was working in my dad's corner store. That shut, he's at B&Q now. Anyway, I got this call from this headhunter guy. He says Goldman have seen my maths scores, they want me. Can he come and talk? He'll take me out anywhere I want to go. Anywhere.

"I'm thinking, sex offender, right? Anyway, I'd never really been to a restaurant before, so I named the flashiest place I could think of: TGI Friday's. I used to walk past it and dream about what it must be like.

"So we're there and the guy says, just order whatever you like. Have anything. Definitely a paedo. I just started ordering loads of things to see when he'd crack.

"He was going on about career opportunities. I couldn't believe he was really going to pay for all this stuff. Three Oreo cookie milkshakes later, they had me. I thought, one day I want to be able to just drop £50 at TGI Friday's and be casual about it. I'm going to work for Goldman Sachs.

"I remembered this yesterday when that bloke said Goldman treats its clients like Muppets. That headhunter had more information than I did. He could have taken me to The Ivy. They even Muppet people they want to hire."

The point of this story, aside from that it made me laugh, is there isn't anything particularly special about the folk who work at Goldman Sachs.

The bank has constructed an entirely mythical notion that its staff are that much smarter than everyone else.

Of course, some of them are fantastically clever, or at least fantastically good at their jobs (which may not be the same thing).

But the most striking thing about all of the Goldmanites I've ever met is that they are entirely unblemished by self-doubt and they talk a good game. It's a skill. I suppose. It just happens to be rather overvalued.

Hanish isn't like this at all, I should say. And there's no doubt about his mathematical skills. You should see him playing darts. Boy's a wizard.