Photo: flickr: Oh Paris
The question’s been in the air for a while — who will replace Lloyd Blankfein as CEO of Goldman Sachs?In the latest issue of Vanity Fair, Bethany McLean doesn’t really answer that question, but she does give us some insight on how the firm is dealing with this conundrum. She also throws out a few names of people that could replace Lloyd.
First the insight. According to McLean, a lot of Goldman’s “culture carriers”, the old guard who cared about the firm’s integrity, are gone or on the way out. This falls in line with what people were discussing after Greg Smith’s resignation letter broke — the firm is now run by ruthless traders, and its sense of duty to clients is gone.
A former Goldman senior banker says, “What really bugs me about G.S. today is not that it’s immoral. It’s amoral.”
Rightly or wrongly, the change seems to be underscored by the retirement late last year of Kevin Kennedy, 63, a longtime Goldman partner who used to oversee human-capital management. While it’s totally reasonable that Kennedy, who had been at the firm for almost four decades, would want to retire, he was viewed as old-school Goldman Sachs.
The idea that Goldman’s reputation is being destroyed hasn’t hurt its earnings, but McLean points out that it takes years to destroy a firm through its brand (she says 10 years, actually). First the deals stop coming, then the new clients… it’s a slow death.
Not to say that that’s what’s happening at Goldman, and definitely not to say that Goldman can’t save itself. One way to do this would be to choose the right successor to Blankfein. There are rumours that he surrounds himself with yes-men, and that he will choose one of them. Still others say that someone form outside the firm will be chosen.
Here are the names that McLean floated around.
- Of course, there’s COO Gary Cohn. He’s not the choice to make if you want to change the firm, as he’s known as “Blankfein on steiroids” for his competitive, take-no-prisoners nature.
- Then there’s David Solomon, hired in ’99 from Bear Stearns as a partner. Blankfein then appointed Solomon as co-head of investment banking.
- J. Michael “Mike” Evans, 54 also makes the list. He is Goldman’s vice-chairman in charge of its growth markets and an Olympic rower. (From Vanity Fair) “Mike Evans is one of the best bankers I’ve ever met,” says a former Goldman banker. “He’s incredibly talented.”
- The only London based banker on the list is named Michael “Woody” Sherwood. He’s the vice-chairman and co-CEO of the bank’s international operations.
- Harvey Schwartz, is another name, he’s a commodities division alum (like Blankfein) who is now head of Securities.
- A true shock would be the appointment of Tom Montag, a former Goldmanite who is now head of trading at Bank of America.
- Lastly, there’s Goldman’s CFO, David Viniar.
Of course, this is all speculation, we won’t know anything until the white smoke comes pouring off the stop of The Vatican — Sorry, 200 West.