Goldman names 84 new members to partner class, six more than prior group

(Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc GS.N elevated 84 employees on Wednesday to its prestigious partner class. The new group has six more people than the prior class, which was announced in 2014. The latest induction will bring the total number of partners to around 484, or 1.4 percent of Goldman's work force.

A sign is displayed in the reception of Goldman Sachs in Sydney, Australia, May 18, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

Nearly a quarter of the class is female, the highest percentage promoted from managing director to partner in the firm’s history.

Goldman, which announces new partners every two years, has cut the number by almost a quarter since 2010, when it appointed 110 to the coveted ranks. The pullback comes as the bank looks to cut costs broadly as increased regulation after the financial crisis has made traditional profit areas, like bond trading, less lucrative.

Goldman embarked on a cost-cutting plan in the first half of the year intended to save $700 million a year.

Employee pay is Goldman’s biggest expense and the title of partner comes with more responsibility and higher pay.

While Goldman went public in 1999, the partnership hearkens back to the bank’s time as a private company in which partners pooled their own money to support trading and investment banking and split the resulting profits or losses.

Partner selection involves a rigorous process known as “cross-ruffing” - a reference to a move from the card game bridge - in which candidates are evaluated by Goldman employees who are not in their own divisions.

The new partners received a call from Goldman Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein or Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn on Wednesday morning.

Goldman Sachs’ Asia-Pacific business, which posted a 61 percent rise in pre-tax earnings in the third quarter from a sharp drop in the preceding three months, added 12 bankers in the partner class, a 50 percent jump from 2014.

The Asia-Pacific promotions, based in Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Australia, accounted for 14 percent of this year’s global partner class, the highest share in recent years.

Goldman, which reported a 58 percent jump in third-quarter profit last month as bond trading rebounded, saw its September quarter pre-tax earnings in Asia rise to $543 million from $337 million, according to a regulatory filing last week.

The share of Asia in the Wall Street bank’s overall pre-tax earnings grew to 19 percent in the July-September period from 16 percent a year ago and 10 percent in the first six months of this year.

Reporting by Olivia Oran in New York; Additional reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee in Hong Kong; Editing by Dan Grebler and Stephen Coates