Goldman Sachs has quietly been making some big equity derivatives hires

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When Lloyd Blankfein laid out Goldman's hiring priorities for 2018 last month, he said a lot about strats but not so much about equity derivatives. That's strange, because equity derivatives are where Goldman's been making some of its most significant investments in recent months.

Goldman insiders say the bank is making a push into the equity derivatives space, as witnessed by an array of hires, mostly at executive director level, on both sides of the Atlantic. Few have been publicized.

On Wall Street, Goldman's biggest new hire is Spencer Cross, the former head of equity index volatility trading at Deutsche Bank. Cross began his equity derivatives career at Lehman in 2005. FINRA confirms that he left Deutsche in November 2017 and joined Goldman Sachs on January 25th this year.

In Europe, Goldman's recent recruits include Guillaume Paulhac, whom it hired last month from consultancy firm Roland Berger for equity derivatives sales in Paris. We already flagged Paulhac's arrival as indicative of a possible build-out of a Brexit-related Parisian sales team. At the same time, Goldman has been hiring traders in London: it quietly recruited quant strategist Thomas Giovachini from BNP Paribas' Paris office to work in December.

Giovachini's arrival in London was preceded by that of Nick Baltas from UBS as head of quantitative research for systematic trading strategies in October. Leaf Wade, also formerly of UBS, turned up in Goldman's London equity derivatives sales team in September.

The recruitment drive shouldn't come as a huge surprise. Citi hired two of Goldman's most senior European equity derivative salespeople last year, so the bank has holes to fill. Meanwhile, although Blankfein didn't mention equity derivatives by name last month, he did say that GS plans to chase quantitative hedge fund clients with an improved systematic trading offering. Similarly, Goldman CFO Marty Chavez emphasized the bank's focus on systematic trading and its new cross-asset systematic solutions team in the bank's first quarter investor call. 

Further hires are expected: the bank is understood to be interviewing heavily in equity derivatives structuring as it seeks to build this team later in the year.

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