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    商業 - 金融

    高盛全員降薪

    Stephen Gandel 2014年10月21日

    出人意料地,高盛最新季度營收報告表現亮眼,但究其原因,部分要歸結于該公司給所有銀行家和交易員都降薪了。

    ????高盛的“宇宙主宰們”正在降低薪酬。但奇怪的是,沒什么人對此感到高興。

    ????上周四,投資銀行高盛(Goldman Sachs)發布了第三季度營收報告。高盛的利潤超出了分析師預期,其部分原因在于該公司生意不錯。債券、大宗商品和衍生品交易部門的收入增長了74%,首次公開發行(IPO)及其他股票發行的管理費收入上漲了40%以上。

    ????不過,高盛利潤超出分析師預期還有一個原因,那就是該公司給所有銀行家和交易員減了薪。

    ????高盛把百分之多少的銷售額用來支付員工薪酬向來備受關注。今年第三季度,該比例為33%。高盛三季度收入為84億美元,也就是說,高盛員工三個月的平均收入仍高達8.3611萬美元。不過,高盛今年前兩季度的薪酬比例均為43%,如果該公司在第三季度沿用這一比例,那么其員工季度平均收入將高達10.7654美元。

    ????薪酬比例下調為高盛省下了8億美元。如果不下調的話,高盛第三季度盈利將在14億美元左右,比分析師預期少了約1億美元,而不是像該公司實際報告的這樣,比預期高出7億美元。

    ????那么,高盛良好的收益數據是否有“加工”之嫌?

    ????在某些分析師和投資者看來,的確如此。盡管高盛凈利潤上漲了近50%,上周四其股票收盤時卻股價告跌。(雖然另有言論稱,高盛股票遭拋售,是因為人們原以為高盛的債券市場交易收入會更高——該數值同比增長了74%,比分析師預期高出了3億美元。不過這都是華爾街詭異的“預期”游戲的一部分。)

    ????在高盛的收益電話會議上,許多分析師向該公司首席財務官哈維?施瓦茨問及薪酬比例下降問題。2013年三季度,高盛也曾下調其薪酬比例,當時是降至了35%。當年另外三個季度,高盛的薪酬比例都維持在40%區間。當時,該行曾被指責用降薪來美化營收數據。在收益電話會議上,就職于區域性證券公司Vinning Sparks的分析師馬蒂?莫斯比問施瓦茨,高盛是否會考慮設定一個年度薪酬比率,而不是每季度波動。施瓦茨的回答是:不會。

    ????盡管如此,分析師和市場對高盛減薪的反應很奇怪。首先,高盛每季度報告的員工薪酬數據某種程度上來說是“加工”過的。高盛員工在七、八、九這三個月的平均收入并沒有8.3611萬美元。普通高盛員工也并非每兩周就能拿到一張1.3935萬美元的支票。他們拿到的錢可能比這少得多。

    ????大多數華爾街員工都是年薪不高但獎金豐厚,而獎金是在每年年底或次年一月初發放。歷史上,華爾街員工的收入中,薪水只占20%,而獎金占80%。但金融危機后,由于華爾街的高額獎金遭人非議,薪水與獎金的比例向薪水稍微有所傾斜。更重要的是,如今大部分獎金是以受限股的形式發放。也就是說,大部分收入根本不會以現金的形式發放。

    ????每季度出現在高盛的財務報表上決定該公司盈利的,其實是高盛為支付員工薪酬預留的資金。其金額大致等于高盛預估的年獎金金額的四分之一。但直到年底高盛真正確定獎金數額并發放獎金時,相關費用才真正產生。因此,可以說高盛是通過操縱自身薪酬支出來撫平收益。

    ????另外,值得銘記于心的是,員工薪酬是高盛最大的開支項目,因此薪酬支出下降值得歡迎。華爾街向來喜歡削減成本。問題在于,減薪是否是一次性做法。施瓦茨對分析師的回答表明,高盛不會作出承諾。

    ????高盛或許別無選擇。華爾街公司的利潤率不比從前,高盛尤其是如此。過去,高盛的股本回報率一貫在20%或更高。去年三季度,高盛的股本回報率僅為8%。但該行給員工發起錢來還是像過去一樣大方。高盛要想使自身利潤率回升,只有降低員工薪酬。因此,減薪應該不足為奇。令人詫異的是,高盛的宇宙主宰們居然這么久才意識到這一點。不過,現在他們意識到了,這是件好事。如今社會日益關注收入差距的負面影響,減薪不僅對高盛有好處,而且對社會上的所有人都有好處。(財富中文網)

    ????The Masters of the Universe are taking a pay cut. Surprisingly, few people are happy about it.

    ????On Thursday, Goldman Sachs GS 2.51% reported earnings for the third quarter. The investment bank’s profits were better than analysts were expecting. That was in part because Goldman’s business was good. Revenue from its bond, commodities, and derivatives trading desk was up by 74%, and fees from managing IPOs and other stock offerings was up more than 40%.

    ????But the unexpectedly good earnings news was also due in part to the fact that Goldman decided to pay its bankers and traders less.

    ????Goldman’s closely watched compensation ratio—the percentage of sales it sets aside for pay—in the third quarter was 33%. On $8.4 billion in revenue for the firm, that still equates to a lofty average pay of $83,611 for three months of work for the average Goldmanite. But had Goldman paid its employees the same ratio of sales that it did in the first and second quarter, which was 43%, the bank’s average worker would have received $107,654.

    ????The pay cut saved Goldman $800 million. Without it, the bank’s third quarter earnings would have been more like $1.4 billion, or about $100 million less than what analysts were expecting, rather than the $700 million more that the firm actually reported.

    ????So did Goldman manufacture its good earnings?

    ????Some analysts and investors seem to think so. Goldman’s shares traded down yesterday, despite its nearly 50% reported bottom line jump. (Although some argue that the sell off was due to the fact that some thought the bank’s bond market trading revenue—which was, again, up 74% from the year before, and $300 million more than analysts were expecting—was going to be even higher. But that’s all part of Wall Street’s weird expectations game.)

    ????On the bank’s earnings conference call, a number of analysts probed Goldman CFO Harvey Schwartz about its compensation ratio drop. Goldman similarly dropped its compensation ratio in the third quarter of 2013, that time to 35%. For the rest of the year, it paid in the 40% range. At the time, the bank was criticized for lowering its pay numbers to make its earnings. At one point in the call, analyst Marty Mosby, who works for a regional brokerage firm Vinning Sparks, asked Schwartz whether Goldman would consider setting one compensation ratio for the year, and not changing it quarter by quarter. Schwartz’s answer: Nope.

    ????Still, the analysts and the market’s reaction to Goldman’s lower pay is odd. First of all, the compensation numbers that Goldman reports each quarter are sort of made up. Goldman’s employees did not receive an average of $83,611 during July, August, and September. It’s not like the average Goldman worker gets a check every two weeks for $13,935. They probably got a whole lot less.

    ????Most Wall Street employees get a small annual salary and a big bonus, which comes at the end of the year or in early January. The ratio has historically been 20% salary to 80% bonus. But after the financial crisis, the salary-to-bonus ratio shifted a bit toward salary when bonuses got a bad rep. What’s more, much of that bonus these days comes in the form of restricted stock. So much of that money will never get paid out as an actual cash deposit.

    ????What shows up in Goldman’s financial statements each quarter, and what is used to determine its earnings, is the amount of money the company sets aside each quarter to pay its employees. It’s an estimate of one quarter of what Goldman thinks those end of the year bonuses will be. But Goldman doesn’t actually incur the compensation expense until the end of the year when the actual bonuses are determined and paid out. So it’s fair to say that Goldman is smoothing its earnings by manipulating its compensation expense. That’s what it always does.

    ????It’s also worth remembering that compensation is Goldman’s biggest expense. So a drop should be welcome. Wall Street typically loves cost cutting. The question is whether this is a one-time thing. And Goldman, as Schwartz’s answer to the analyst indicates, won’t commit.

    ????But it may not have a choice. Wall Street, and Goldman in particular, is not as profitable as it once was. Goldman used to consistently have a return on equity of 20% or higher. In the third quarter a year ago, it was 8%. But the bank is still paying like it is making a 20% return. The only way it’s going to get its profitability back up is to pay its workers less. So the pay cuts should not be coming as a surprise. The surprise is how long it has taken the Masters of the Universe at Goldman to realize this. Now that they have, it’s a good thing. And at a time when we are increasingly concerned with the negative effects of income equality, it’s not just good for Goldman, but for all of us.

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