When Goldman Sachs reported its most recent quarterly results, Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein warned that a stormy trading environment in the first months of the year had brought “headwinds across virtually every one of our businesses.”
This week, those headwinds reached Goldman's trading desks, as the investment bank began job cuts in its sales trading division and expanded layoffs in its bond trading staff.
The layoffs, reported by the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, come as part of an aggressive cost-cutting campaign that Blankfein has undertaken to placate shareholders, who have been let down by the bank's underwhelming performance in the last year.
Firmwide revenue fell 40 percent in the first quarter of 2016, with the biggest revenue drop in fixed income, commodities and currency trading, or FICC, which saw a 47 percent plunge in revenue. Compensation in the FICC unit, which has seen a bulk of the job cuts, has fallen 20 percent, Chief Financial Officer Harvey Scwartz told investors last month.
Each year Goldman sheds around 5 percent of its staff to drive performance and make room for new employees. But the cuts reported this week exceed that annual culling.
Goldman is hoping for a return in investors' trading appetite, which evaporated last year and has yet to regain its vigor. “When you get those moves down so quickly, they tend to be a delay until you find some price stability,” Schwartz said last month. “And for investors, I think the move was so volatile that it was difficult for investors to participate.”
The bank has also made moves to diversify its business, which has long been open only to corporate clients, money managers and wealthy investors. Last month Goldman rolled out GS Bank, an online business offering savings accounts and certificates of deposit with competitive interest rates.
Shares of Goldman were down slightly in premarket trading. Shares remain more than 11 percent down for the year.