$521,000: The average pay of Goldman Sachs employees ­ and that includes secretaries

They call it Goldmine Sachs. And well they might. Because the Wall Street giant has become the first major investment bank to see its average salary top half a million dollars.

The extraordinary figure is disclosed in the company's latest regulatory filings and comes as a record bonus season draws to a close on both sides of the Atlantic.

It is sure to be used to entice people to join the bank, which expects to boost its number of employees by up to 10 per cent in anticipation of another bumper year for trading and mergers and acquisitions activity.

Last year, Goldman Sachs paid out $11.7bn (£6.7bn) to its 22,425 employees - around 3,000 of whom are in London.

Hank Paulson, the chairman and chief executive, was paid $38m in salary, shares and options - a 21 per cent increase on 2004. An average figure per staff member of $521,000 bursts through a barrier not even breached during the dot-com boom in 1999 and 2000.

This is a 12 per cent increase on the $466,000 average disclosed for 2004. It is twice the level of average pay at rivals Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

Wall Street banks are paying out a record $21.5bn in bonuses for 2005, according to New York State figures. That dwarfs 2004's $18.6bn and tops the previous record of $19.5bn in 2000. The average bonus in 2005 was $125,500 - some $25,000 more than in 2000

Deutsche Bank last week became the latest to disclose to its staff the bonus cheques they will soon be taking home. Some top executives will receive bonuses 75 per cent higher than last year.

The average bonus is believed to have increased by a double-digit percentage, and the subtle boast is meant to signal Deutsche's return to health after several lacklustre years.

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