Any reunion of Goldman Sachs alumni is always likely to be a pretty intimidating affair. Bankers past and present from Wall Street's most prestigious fortune factory have been recruited to a rash of the very top jobs in the corporate, economic and media worlds.
Goldman old boys can count among their number a former BBC chairman, directors of leading British and US companies, members of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, a former US Treasury Secretary, a chief executive of the New York Stock Exchange and, since the appointment of Paul Deighton yesterday, the man charged with organising the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Even by the uncommon yardsticks of investment banking " monumental bonuses, super-competitive machismo and ever more pervasive influence across the planet " Goldman is remarkable. For the fifth year on the spin, the bank advised on more mergers and acquisitions than any other. Profits for the last three months of its year surged 37 per cent to a record $1.63bn (pounds 924m). Deals in the pipeline mean 2006 looks set to be another bumper year.
Its rainmakers " those that make the deals happen " and the leaders of other lucrative divisions can expect multimillion-dollar bonuses for Christmas. In London, the head of private equity Richard Sharp, and Mike Sherwood, who runs trading, are rumoured to be in line for pounds 10m bonuses. About 25 others could scoop pounds 3m apiece.
Despite its extraordinary success, the bank has shied away from publicity since its beginnings when the German immigrant Marcus Goldman discounted IOUs among the diamond merchants of New York in the 1870s.
Ostentation is still frowned upon. The chairman Hank Paulson wears a cheap Japanese watch and a predecessor, Steve Friedman, carried his papers in a battered LL Bean bag.
Goldman remained a private partnership long after rivals floated or hawked themselves to the highest bidder. Managers stay there longer (a partner is typically in post for 10 years), while 'star' culture is shunned for a collegiate spirit. Top jobs are often divided to foster consensus decision-making. …