Back office MDs need a boost

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Yesterday Goldman Sachs announced lucky initiates to its partnership pool. Today the bank is set to announce who'll make managing director. Very few in either contingent are likely to derive from the back office.

According to headhunters, there's one managing director (MD) or partner-managing director to every five or six professional (non-admin) staff at Goldman Sachs. By comparison, the ratio of MDs to other professional staff in the back office is said to be several hundred to one.

The bank hasn't confirmed these figures, but headhunters say they hold roughly true across the industry.

"To make managing director (MD) in operations, you'll typically have a global role maintaining a headcount of several hundred people," says Mike Hartwell, himself managing director of operations search firm Hartwell Buck. "You'll need to run a sizeable portion of the business."

Making MD in a front office role is a different matter. "It's down to revenue generation," says one former MD at Morgan Stanley. "In the front line you don't really need to be head of anything - if you're making $50m for the firm they'll recognise that in your title."

At least one Goldmanite appears to have his contribution recognised, despite not hailing from the front office. According to the Financial Times, Lucas van Praag, global head of corporate communications at the bank, has been invited to wade into the partnership pool.

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