Goldman consolidates trading desk, empties sixth floor at 200 West Street

Slow growth caused by regulatory and technological changes is the cause

Lloyd Blankfein Goldman Sachs
From left: Lloyd Blankfein and 200 West Street in the Financial District

All that’s left on the sixth floor of Goldman Sachs’ 200 West Street headquarters is a handful of partners in window offices and a line of people waiting for the bathroom.

Faced with slow employee growth and new trading regulations, Goldman consolidated its trading desk, formerly occupying three floors at the building, to just two, leaving the sixth floor all but empty.

Goldman moved into its current headquarters in the Financial District in 2009. At that time, traders occupied the fourth, fifth and sixth floors. But in the years since, the ascendance of computerized trading, along with the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which curtailed “proprietary” trading using the firm’s own money, have combined to reduce the size of its trading desk, the New York Times reported.

The firm has also leased out about a third of the tower it built at 30 Hudson Street in Jersey City in 2004. It was the building’s sole occupant as recently as 2012.

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Wall Street banks’ trading profits are down about 5 percent in the current quarter from the same time last year.

Goldman’s overall headcount has been stable as the firm has added technology, compliance and legal staff as its cut traders.

The headquarters’ sixth floor isn’t entirely empty. Some Goldman partners have chosen to remain on the floor because there aren’t enough offices with windows for all of them on the floors below. Goldman employees are also using the bathrooms on the sixth floor, as those on the fourth and fifth have become overcrowded. [NYT] – Ariel Stulberg