Some say replacing Goldman Sachs CFO David Viniar, is going to be much harder than finding the new Lloyd Blankfein.Everyone at Goldman calls him the “brains of the operation.”
When he goes, it’s going to be so difficult to replace him that one of the two women who is in the running for the job had to give up exercise and hobbies to prepare.
The two women who have been mentioned are Sarah Smith, Controller and Chief Accounting Officer; and Elizabeth “Liz” Beshel, the firm’s Treasurer.
Photo: New Trier
Beshel is a Goldman veteran who joined the firm as an analyst in 1990 straight out of Williams College. Made partner in 2006, she is “Viniar’s closest deputy and the person trained by him to handle the firm’s financing and liquidity needs,” Bloomberg said.She’s a “key member of the team that took Goldman public in 1999,” according to CNNMoney, and “helps manage the firm’s $1-trillion-plus balance sheet.”
“Every pound the firm invests, every yen it borrows, every dollar that flows on and off its balance sheet, is under Beshel’s watchful eye.”
In 2007, Forbes wrote an excellent profile of Beshel, which gives a very good sense of the centrality of Goldman in this woman’s life.
On life at Goldman, Beshel once said:
It becomes an exercise in prioritization, about what is most important to me. It is my family and my job. I don’t really have hobbies, and I don’t really exercise. There are a lot of other things I would like to do, but for the moment, they are pushed aside in favour of my family and my career.
She reportedly has a “serious but friendly manner; her conservative, navy blue-suited banker’s image belies a woman who laughs easily, speaks quickly and is effusive in her affection for those who helped make her career possible.”
And her loyalty to the firm, and love for it, stands her in good stead for an even bigger role, as does her ties to Viniar:
Beshel speaks of her considerable accomplishments without a touch of arrogance, and repeatedly mentions that she is both deeply grateful and loyal to a firm that to her feels like a family.
Several years ago, Beshel nervously approached her boss, Goldman Sachs CFO David Viniar, with news of her pregnancy. She had moved up in treasury quickly… Although she knew Viniar to be a devoted father, a high-ranking partner famous for attending most of his kids’ athletic events, she was unsure how he would react… Viniar stepped around his desk, gave her a hug, and told her not to think about her career, just to concentrate on herself.
Beshel’s husband also works for Goldman; Samuel Robinson is a managing director under Vice-Chairman Michael Evans.
Another leading candidate, Sarah Smith, “is a British citizen who joined Goldman Sachs in 1996 from KPMG and has been a partner since 2002, is one of the leading candidates to succeed Viniar, according to people familiar with the matter,” according to Bloomberg.
In her role, Smith manages about 1,500 members of the global controllers department. She sits on the Firmwide Risk Committee, the Commitments Committee, the Partnership Committee and the PIA Investment Committee, and is cochair of the Structured Products Committee and has oversight of Operational Risk.
As per SEC rules, “Smith already qualifies as one of Goldman Sachs’s 12 “executive officers” who are required to file reports with the SEC about any stock purchases or sales,” Bloomberg said.
At KPMG, she worked in the national and audit practices after a stint at Bristol-Myers Squibb. She earned her degree from the City of London University.
They’re two great candidates but Viniar has indicated he won’t think about a departure until “a sense of calm has been restored in the operating environment,” according to Bloomberg.
Viniar has been CFO since 1999, so his institutional knowledge of the firm, and its finances, is unparalleled. He helped steer the bank through its 1999 IPO and 2008 financial implosion, two seminal events in the firm’s history.