Of all the perks bestowed on those selected as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partners this week, the most uncommon may be access to a private fund named for a street that stretches two blocks at the southern tip of Manhattan.
Goldman Sachs has brought back Bridge Street funds, which allow senior employees to invest alongside the bank in closely held companies without having to pay fees. First offered when the firm was a true partnership before going public in 1999, Bridge Street was restarted in 2011. This year’s fund raised more than $120 million from about half of the 400 partners.
Employee private-equity funds are one of the extras that make rewards at Goldman Sachs the envy of Wall Street. Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein received $125.9 million from the funds in the past five years, more than he was awarded in salary and bonuses over the same period, filings show.
“It’s consistent with Goldman’s past DNA and the DNA they want to have going forward,” said Alan Johnson, founder of New York-based compensation-consulting firm Johnson Associates Inc. “The big banks are no longer the pay leaders, no longer the masters of the universe, so they’ve got to be more creative.”
Andrea Raphael, a spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs, declined to comment on the funds.
Goldman Sachs offered Bridge Street funds until 2000, before dropping that model in favor of allowing employees to invest in specific private-equity and debt funds it raised for clients, such as the $20 billion GS Capital Partners VI in 2007. The opportunity, which in some years attracted more than $1 billion, encouraged employee retention and was a built-in seeding method for new ventures.
The bank didn’t offer employees any funds in 2009 and 2010 in the wake of the financial crisis and amid criticism of Wall Street compensation practices.
The Volcker Rule -- passed as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act -- limited the amount of money banks could put into their private-equity funds. As Goldman Sachs replaced stakes in funds with investments in companies made solely with its own money, it went back to the standalone employee funds.
This year, the New York-based bank also reactivated Stone Street, a fund offered to the firm’s more than 2,000 managing directors, those employees one rung below the ceremonial title of partner. That fund raised at least $57 million, bringing the total contributed by employees to more than $178 million, about three times as much as in 2011, according to filings.