Goldman Sachs is bucking the trend in a prime broking market that has started 2008 with a sense of existential unease among competitors. Hiring plans in Hong Kong and Tokyo are now moving ahead in every prime broking discipline from consultancy and client services to securities lending/synthetics.

Incumbents in the prime broking department, James Shipton, handling consultancy, and Jig Patel, dealing with client infrastructure and clearing, have just been invited to join the elite Goldman Sachs managing directorsÆ watering hole.

Will Gadsden, an executive director in non-Japan Asia prime broking sales, has resigned from Goldman Sachs and is understood to have returned to the US.

Shipton and Patel have been joined in Hong Kong by Shane Bolton, a managing director from Goldman Sachs in London who will be fulfilling a role broader than that of orthodox sales, which reflects the more diverse demands that Asian hedge funds place prime brokers nowadays.

Shipton and Patel are overseen by Shane Bolton, who in turn reports to Fred Towfigh. The fifth prime broking managing director is Ian Smith on the trading side. So, if youÆre a prime broking hedge fund client visiting Goldman Sachs, youÆre now probably getting more managing directors per square metre than in any other Hong Kong-based prime broker.

ThatÆs just prime broking; but if youÆve got banking brainwaves in your cheesebox, then Goldman might still discreetly swallow you up and dish out a coveted managing directorship.

For example, in an off-media 2007 Goldman Sachs hiring, one of Hong KongÆs top credit management supremos, Drake Pike, was poached from Lehman Brothers. Yale polyglot, and Sting-lookalike Pike was duly given his Goldman MD-ship and promptly dispatched to Beijing. There he became the chief risk management adviser to ICBC, leaving Hong Kong with his record of never having won the Maclehose Trailwalker left miraculously intact.

Of course hyper-talent doesnÆt come cheap, but with deals like ICBC raking in the multi-billions, Goldman Sachs can afford to deepen its bench.