Lloyd Blankfein may not be ready to say when he’ll give up his crown, but that’s not because there’s no one around to take it.
The investment bank tapped Harvey Schwartz and David Solomon in late 2016 to work as co-presidents as part of a reshuffling of top managers. The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter it didn’t identify, reported Friday that Blankfein, 63, may retire as soon as the end of this year and be replaced by either Schwartz or Solomon. But the CEO later tweeted that it was the newspaper’s announcement and not his.
“I feel like Huck Finn listening to his own eulogy,” wrote Blankfein, who has led the New York-based firm for 12 years.
Part of a CEO’s responsibility is to develop and retain talent, “which means eventually stepping aside,” Jeffrey Harte, a Sandler O’Neill & Partners analyst, said in a phone interview. “They’ve got a couple of solid candidates and it might be time for the good of the firm to give the next generation a try.”
Blankfein hasn’t set a timetable for his departure or spoken with senior colleagues about any plans to step down by year-end, a person with knowledge of his thinking told Bloomberg on Friday. Still, with markets turning volatile and Goldman Sachs on pace for a strong year, there could be worse times for Blankfein to hand over the reins, Harte said.
“If Goldman has a good earnings year, it gives Lloyd an opportunity to go out on top, ” he said.
While Schwartz, a former chief financial officer, and Solomon, who ran the investment-banking business for a decade, have taken different career paths at the firm, both are well known to shareholders, “so there’s a level of comfort with either,” Devin Ryan, an analyst with JMP Securities, said in an interview.
The firm’s long-term focus on investment banking and asset management “would tip the scale toward David Solomon, even though the nice thing with Harvey is that he’s been out in front of investors a lot,” Harte said. “History would say where the business is stronger, is where the successor comes from.”
If Blankfein does choose to stick around a while, there’s always the chance the firm looks beyond the two co-presidents for his replacement. Here’s a list of some leading contenders.
Harvey M. Schwartz
Title: President and Co-Chief Operating Officer
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University; MBA from Columbia University
Career: He worked in the currency and commodities-trading unit before being named partner in 2002. Schwartz, who has a black belt in karate, became co-head of the Americas financing group in investment banking in 2004 and was promoted to head of North America sales in 2005. Two years later, he became global head of securities division sales. In 2008, he was promoted to global co-head of securities division and worked there until 2013, when he took over as chief financial officer. In 2016, he was
named co-president, alongside Solomon. Both were filling a role formerly held by Gary Cohn, who left to join President Donald Trump’s administration.
David M. Solomon
Title: President and Co-Chief Operating Officer
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College
joined Goldman Sachs in 1999 as a partner from Bear Stearns Cos. to help lead its high-yield debt and leveraged-finance division. He
became co-head of equity capital markets in 2002 and was
promoted to co-head of investment banking in 2006. The firm
named him co-president in 2016. Solomon has also taken on a leading role in the company’s diversity push and initiatives to improve working conditions for young bankers. The part-time disc jockey is also a wine collector and an avid skier.
R. Martin Chavez
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard University; doctorate from Stanford University
Career: Chavez joined the bank in 1993 in the J. Aron & Co. currency and commodities division. In 1997, he moved to Credit Suisse Group AG, and three years later left to help found Kiodex Inc., which offered risk-management services to energy companies. He worked there until 2004, then a year later rejoined Goldman Sachs and became a partner the next year. In 2013, he was
named chief information officer and three years later was
promoted to CFO, succeeding Schwartz. Chavez is a member of the Firmwide Hispanic/Latino Network and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Network.
Pablo J. Salame
Title: Vice Chairman and Global Co-Head of the Securities Division
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Brown University
Career Path: The Ecuador native joined the bank in 1996 and in 2000 became co-head of the global emerging markets debt group. He was named partner that year. Salame moved to London in 2002 and was
promoted to co-head of the securities division in 2008. He
returned to New York in 2011.
Richard J. Gnodde
Title: Vice Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs International
Education: Bachelor’s degree from the University of Cape Town; master’s from the University of Cambridge
Career: He joined the bank in 1987 in London to work on mergers. A decade later, Gnodde was named co-head of the investment-banking division in Japan and then helped build its Asia business, including securing access to China’s securities market. He returned to London in 2005 and was named co-CEO of Goldman Sachs International the next year. He worked as co-head of the investment banking division from 2011 to 2017.
Title: ex-Goldman Sachs President
Education: Bachelor’s degree from American University
Career: Cohn joined the bank in 1990 at its J. Aron commodities unit. In 2006, when Blankfein was named CEO, Cohn
became co-president alongside Jon Winkelried, who left that role in 2009. Cohn was long viewed as a possible successor to Blankfein,
taking on more duties when the CEO announced in 2015 he had cancer. There were few signs at the time that Blankfein would step down, and eventually Cohn departed to take a job in the Trum