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At its height back in , the U. Today there are just two equity traders left. Automated trading programs have taken over the rest of the work, supported by computer engineers. The experience of its New York traders is just one early example of a transformation of Goldman Sachs, and increasingly other Wall Street firms, that began with the rise in computerized trading, but has accelerated over the past five years, moving into more fields of finance that humans once dominated.
Chavez, who will become chief financial officer in April, says areas of trading like currencies and even parts of business lines like investment banking are moving in the same automated direction that equities have already traveled.
Today, nearly 45 percent of the revenue from cash equities trading comes from electronic trades, according to Coalition, a U. In addition to back-office clerical workers, on Wall Street machines are replacing a lot of highly paid people, too.
For the highly paid who remain, there is a growing income spread that mirrors the broader economy, says Babson College professor Tom Davenport. Now more complex areas of trading like currencies and credit, which are not traded on a stock exchange like the New York Stock Exchange but rather through less-transparent networks of traders, are coming in for more automation as well.
Goldman Sachs has already begun to automate currency trading, and has found consistently that four traders can be replaced by one computer engineer, Chavez said at the Harvard conference. Next, Chavez said, will be the automation of investment banking tasks, work that traditionally has been focused on human skills like salesmanship and building relationships.
Reducing the number of investment bankers would be a great cost savings for the firm. Chavez himself is an example of the rising role of technology at Goldman Sachs. It was nurtured like a small startup within the firm and launched in just 12 months, he said.
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