One of the world’s largest investment banking and financial services firms, Goldman Sachs (GS), has its second largest office globally in India. GS started a Global Competency Centre (GCC) in 2004 in Bengaluru. In July 2021, it expanded its operations by opening an office in Hyderabad. Today, Goldman Sachs GCC employs 8,000+ people in India and provides expertise in core engineering, including areas of artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain technologies to its global clients. Gunjan Samtani heads the India operations of Goldman Sachs Services and he spoke to BusinessLine of the critical work being done out of the GCC which has helped global clients shave off microseconds in executing trades and giving them an edge. Excerpts:
How has the evolution of Goldman Sachs’ GCC journey been in India?
We started our journey in India in the GCC context in 2004. Today, we are the second-largest office of Goldman Sachs globally. Including our newer offices in Hyderabad. Across Bengaluruaand Hyderabad, we have about 8,000+ pmployees We have become one of the deepest fintech hubs of the firm globally.
Now, every business of the firm has its foothold in our offices in Bengaluru. So, this office is almost a microcosm of the firm across all traditional businesses of investment banking, asset management and global markets, as well as our newer businesses of consumer banking and transaction banking. We started our journey in Hyderabad last year and our purpose is clear that the Hyderabad office will be a centre of excellence for the firm’s consumer banking business and provide deep expertise in core engineering, including areas of artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain technologies. We are in many ways the platinum standard for GCCs in the country.
When you opened the Hyderabad office, there were talks of it scaling, to around 2,000-2,500 people by 2023, with probably 800 being hired in the first year. Has there been any change of plan?
We are executing against the business plans that were established for our offices in Hyderabad. Yes, because of the pandemic, the aspect of in-person, continuous engagement with our people had to be calibrated based on the evolving environment. But, as far as our business plans and growth are concerned, we remain on target both in the context of the competencies and functions as well as the projected head counts.
During the pandemic, there has been a record trading interest in markets – what role has the GCC played in your operations globally?
In the pandemic indeed, there were significant periods of high volatility and high trading volumes, and I’m very proud about what we were able to provide in terms of continuity of business operations as well as the build out of new businesses. We were continuing to grow and hire in that period. In many ways, the expression of a deep fintech of Goldman Sachs is deeply rooted in the talent pool that is available in the country which has a bent towards engineering.
Engineering tied to application of mathematics, statistics and computer science as applied to finance and those engineering skills as well as roles and people, are deeply embedded in each of our front to back businesses. bout half of the employees are engineers, the other half are people who are a part of our business execution, risk controllers, HR, as well as people in banking and in our asset management business.
So, the expression of fintech is about embedding our engineers into the front to back businesses and supporting these businesses through the horizontal functions of risk, finance, treasury, human capital management, and our workplace technologies. Now, in the last several years, the firm has also expanded its business franchise into platform businesses. These include the newly launched consumer banking business of Goldman Sachs and our transaction banking business. A significant portion of the engineering functions, and the business execution of these functions, both in transaction banking and consumer banking, are anchored out of our offices in Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
Can you elaborate on the specific engineering support or proprietary algorithms being worked on and supported?
To give you examples of transaction banking, about 35 per cent of the of the transaction banking teams sits out of the India office. These are not just engineers, but also people working on corporate cash management solutions for our clients, developing rich analytics, developing solutions for liquidity management, virtual accounts payments. Transaction banking as a business provides treasury services for large corporate clients. On the consumer banking side, about half of the consumer banking engineers globally are based out of India, but then there are roles tied to credit risk analytics, product management and client servicing that are also anchored out of our offices here and this cuts across our products, including deposits, credit cards and lending.
An example of that is we have teams here which worked on the launch of the credit card in partnership with Apple that happened some time back. We have been closely working with our global counterparts in the launch of our credit card franchise and we also worked with solutions tied with Amazon for small to medium size lending products as part of our digital bank.
But coming to Atlas, which is our low latency trading platform in global markets, since the volumes are significantly spiking up in capital markets globally, so is the nature of these trade executions in terms of what our clients are seeking of companies like Goldman Sachs. A big part of our client franchise, specifically in global markets, are tied to hedge funds. They are quant hedge funds, they are asset managers as an example, and we have been providing them trade execution services on low latency trading platforms.
When I say low latency trading platforms, I’m referring to execution speeds which are in microseconds, nd therefore we have teams with expertise in engineering in quantitative finance, in risk management,
We have upped the identity of what GCCs in India stand for in terms of what it means to be a centre of hub for innovation, for driving global businesses. The range of skill sets include people with specialised skills ranging in full-stack development to platform engineers to quantitative engineers. We have people who are product owners, who are working on UX designs or mobile applications. In Hyderabad, we also announced that we are establishing a Centre of Excellence for Blockchain.
We have been a talent magnet at top engineering colleges across the country and in the lateral market too, based on the virtue of the kind of work that we provide.