Salt Lake City is now the second-largest Goldman Sachs office in the United States and the fourth-largest in the world. What was in 2000 a small regional operation has blossomed into a workforce of several thousand people and growing. With the workforce of Fidelity Investments, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Wells Fargo and other financial service companies, Utah’s capital city now rightly claims the title “Wall Street of the West.” The Utah economy is larger, stronger and more diversified, thanks to the growth in this important industry.
Bruce Larson is a managing director at Goldman Sachs and served as head of Human Capital Management and chief administrative officer for the firm’s Salt Lake City office. He recently told a group of local business leaders that Salt Lake City is one of the most sought-after locations for Goldman Sachs employees. When asked why, Larson said, “The people in Salt Lake City are happy.” He then went on to note that while all Goldman Sachs employees want to work in a fast-paced, challenging work environment, they don’t all want to live in the concrete jungle of a big city. He continued, “In Salt Lake City, you can recharge your batteries after a long and demanding day at the office.” Larson should know. He spent several years commuting into the Big Apple each day and has held positions in the firm’s Hong Kong and Tokyo offices.
Those of us who are longtime Salt Lakers get it. We live in a remarkable region of the country where you truly can have a “cabin in the city.” Recreational opportunities, wildlife and places of solitude are close and abundant. The good life in Salt Lake City is easy to find.
Larson acknowledged that people are initially surprised to hear about the company’s significant presence in Utah. But the firm’s “follow the sun” model makes Salt Lake City an integral part of the company’s global business as employees interact with office locations in other time zones, particularly in Latin America. Additionally, about 50 percent of employees in Goldman’s Salt Lake City office speak a second language, and more than 75 languages are spoken in the office. As a global business with offices and operations around the globe, this has been a key asset for the firm.
He then said there is not a single person who doesn’t mention the benefit of an airport 10 minutes away. Even better, as a hub airport for Delta Air Lines, Salt Lake City boasts 312 daily departures to 88 nonstop destinations.
What I liked best about Larson’s commentary was his assessment that Salt Lake City’s growth has been earned. He said that after the financial crisis, a high-quality workforce became even more important to the company. Goldman valued the productivity of its Utah employees and started bringing more work here. Today, nine of the firm’s 11 divisions have teams in Salt Lake City, and several employees with global management responsibility are based here.
On any given day Goldman employees from downtown Salt Lake City will host round-the-clock teleconference calls with people living in major cities around the globe — London, Brussels, Taipei, Shanghai, Tokyo and Dubai, to name just a few. The world is getting smaller right here in the Intermountain West. Utah is undeniably global.
For those of you who watch the Salt Lake City skyline, you will note another high-rise being built on the corner of 100 South and Main Street. This building, referred to as 111 Main, cantilevers over the new Broadway Theater and will house additional financial-services employees. Utah’s capital city is more cosmopolitan, vibrant and diverse because of the investment made by the financial-services industry.
Salt Lake City is 2,000 miles away from Wall Street. It’s the center of Mormon country and a relatively small metropolitan area by national and global standards. But when it comes to financial services, Salt Lake City is now a global powerhouse. The result is a growing capital city, a more prosperous region and a worldwide presence for the Beehive State.
Natalie Gochnour is an associate dean in the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah and chief economist for the Salt Lake Chamber.