The Partnership, by Charles D Ellis is the story of “The Making of Goldman Sachs.”
So if you’ve ever wondered what exactly Goldman Sachs (and investment banks in general) do for the world, you might really enjoy The Partnership. It’s an in-depth look like no other.
In this book review you can expect to learn what The Partnership is all about. I’ll also share the best parts of The Partnership… and, a word of warning on why you might actually want to pass on reading The Partnership. Either way, you’re going to want to read this book review before making a decision about The Partnership.
Why I Liked Reading The Partnership:
The Partnership caught my eye because it was on sale in the book store. I picked it up without thinking because it was 50% off. But I’m glad I gave The Partnership a chance.
The reason is:
The Partnership taught me a ton about Goldman Sachs, both as a firm and in the context of the investment banking industry. Understanding how these major players act, think and grow has been very helpful to my working knowledge of American Capitalism. And it’s definitely rounded out my investment decision-making process.
The Partnership is an incredibly in-depth review of the history of Goldman Sachs. And by the time your’e done reading the book you have an exhaustive picture of how influential Goldman has been over the last 150 years, right from the founder to the current CEO.
And while there are some amazing biographical anecdotes in The Partnership, the book goes much farther than that. You see…
In addition to exploring the characteristics of the companies’ operations and the different managers and partners, The Partnership also revealed some neat facts I didn’t know about Goldman Sachs. To be honest, the Goldman Sachs described in the book is at stark odds with what you hear in the media today.
Goldman is old! They started out in 1869. And ever since then they’ve been slowly and methodically growing their market share, operations and business units.
Goldman was the white knight. They took an active role defending clients from hostile takeovers and merger bids. They were one of the only banks doing this. It really helped them build a clients-first reputation of trust.
Goldman was more teamwork focused than most of the other major investment banks. Bonuses were based on the success of the team more than just the individual. (I wonder if this is still the case today.)
Goldman was a private partnership for a long time. Going IPO was a big deal for them, but they had to do it in order to compete with the other investment services.
To be fair, The Partnership is not entirely pro-Goldman Sachs. But in the days of Vampire-Squid headlines, it is nice to get some historical perspective on how things got to be the way they were.
After all, Goldman wasn’t always a huge international operation with billions of dollars in annual income. But the growth story of they achieved this is pretty remarkable.
And while the rising power of Goldman Sachs makes for a powerful and engaging narrative, it wasn’t even my favorite part. Let me explain.
The Best Part of The Partnership:
While The Partnership provided a ton of historical facts, opinions and insight into the growth of Goldman Sachs, I think the most interesting part was the people. The major players in the history of Goldman Sachs have been incredibly successful individuals. And it’s eye opening to read about.
The Partnership did a wonderful job depicting life as a banker, and what it takes to be successful. Amazing how dedicated and professional these bankers were for most of the 20th century.
Almost everyone who has worked in the C-suite at Goldman Sachs has gone on to do amazing things. Hank Paulson is only the most recent example. So…
I really liked how much time The Partnership dedicated to giving a well-rounded overview of some of the most successful business men of the 20th century. At times I really felt like I was learning from some of the smartest minds out there, as The Partnership provides a step by step walk through of their decision making and strategic planning.
So notwithstanding the information on Goldman Sachs, The Partnership provides some valuable real-world business education for anyone interested in capital allocation and investment management.
But I should be clear. Even though I liked the book, I don’t think The Partnership is for everyone.
Why You Might Not Want to Read The Partnership:
While I really enjoyed The Partnership, if you aren’t that interested in investment banking, or corporate biographies in general, then you might get tired of this book. The truth is…
Since the book is so incredibly detailed, it’s also a little bit long. I think it comes in at just over 700 pages and the blocks of text are pretty dense. It took me a little while to get through this one, and while I enjoyed the book you should know it’s not a quick read.
In fact, The Partnership is sort of like a bunch of stories, biographies and anecdotes tied into one. Again, I liked this holistic view of Goldman Sachs. But if you’re more curious than serious I would recommend you pass on reading The Partnership. It’s just not for everyone.
So let’s wrap up this book review…
The Partnership Book Review – The Final Word:
The Partnership is an excellent book. The depth of research and care that went into writing it are apparent. And because of this dedicated effort by the author, the book is the best resource on Goldman Sachs I’ve ever seen. For anyone who is interested in working at Goldman, working with Goldman or just learning more about their culture I recommend you buy The Partnership on Amazon.
The Partnership is a thorough read. And when you’re done you’ll know more about GS than almost anyone else out there. But if you’re only passively interested this might not be the best book for you. Try Alpha Masters of Market Wizards instead. For a little more information I encourage you to read the book review below.