Bloomberg
Goldman Sachs building Copyright Spencer Platt, Getty Images

Goldman Unveils Largest Redesign of Trading Hub Since '09 Launch

Goldman Sachs Asset Management is moving about 500 employees scattered across three floors to one.

By Dakin Campbell

(Bloomberg) --Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is redesigning part of its trading hub in downtown Manhattan, tearing down walls between money managers to foster better investment performance.

The Goldman Sachs Asset Management unit is poised to move about 500 employees from desks scattered across three floors to one with a new layout, seating them shoulder-to-shoulder so they can more easily interact, according to Andrew Williams, a spokesman. The move at the firm’s 200 West St. headquarters will be completed by the end of April.

It marks the most ambitious renovation of trading floors within the base of the skyscraper since it opened in 2009. The plans were unveiled to staff Thursday at a town-hall meeting run by managers including Jonathan Beinner, chief investment officer for GSAM’s global fixed-income strategies. Bloomberg obtained a copy of the accompanying slideshow.

Goldman Sachs is the latest Wall Street firm to modernize offices and build more shared space to foster collaboration. Citigroup Inc. is renovating its 388-390 Greenwich St. headquarters with a more minimal design, fewer offices and areas where employees can spontaneously meet. In many cases, new layouts also fit more people into the same space.

‘Greater Collaboration’

“This floor is designed to encourage greater collaboration amongst our investment teams by increasing the opportunity for, and quality of, their interactions with one another and with our clients,” Williams said in an emailed statement. He wouldn’t disclose the cost of the renovation.

The 43-floor skyscraper is divided into two structural features: a short, broad section with the trading operations, and a tower that rises from that base. The project focuses on the third floor of the lower section. The traders in the securities division and bankers who underwrite stocks and bonds occupy the floors above.

Members of the fundamental investing teams -- equity and fixed-income strategies, as well as managers of the Goldman Sachs Investment Partners hedge fund -- will move to the renovated floor. Other personnel -- such as private wealth managers, salesmen and staff in the quantitative strategies unit -- will stay put, Williams said.

The new space will feature a coffee bar, two pantries and a bank of phone booths for holding private conversations, the presentation shows. It also will include a 70-person conference room, where chief investment officers will hold a morning meeting, and eight other client conference rooms.

Visitors will be greeted by a 20-foot screen showing fund performance, market prices and research in high resolution.

‘Room to Grow’

What began as a $10 billion money market fund in 1989 has grown into a unit that ranks as one of the world’s largest asset managers. Run by  Tim O’Neill and Eric Lane, it supervised almost $1.4 trillion at the end of last year for institutions, wealthy individuals and families, as well as retail investors through mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. 

Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein has counted on the business to spur revenue growth. The $5.79 billion it generated last year accounted for 19 percent of the firm’s total, the most since 2008, when trading and banking operations slumped.

Lane and O’Neill have expanded in part through a series of bolt-on acquisitions -- nine since Lane joined as co-head in December 2011. That makes fostering cohesiveness among staff especially important, according to Williams.

At a conference last month, Blankfein told investors he sees an opening for Goldman to grow the business further as investors consolidate assets with leading firms.

“In asset management, there are a lot of places where we can take on and increase our market share,” he said. “There certainly are bigger players within each of the product categories where we compete, which gives us room to grow.”

 
To contact the reporter on this story: Dakin Campbell in New York at [email protected] To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Eichenbaum at [email protected] David Scheer

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