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What the Goldman beauty parade tells us

PA-Lloyd Blankfein

The contest over who will succeed Lloyd Blankfein as Goldman Sachs boss has ended, with David Solomon the victor. Both Solomon, and Harvey Schwartz, who will be resigning from the firm, shared their thoughts about themselves, and the markets, in podcasts last year — and GlobalCapital picked over the highlights.

The discussions, recorded as part of the 'Exchanges at Goldman Sachs' series open questions about leadership, the bank itself, and what it means to be the boss in a new era for banking leadership.

Solomon and Schwartz were both made co-presidents and co-chief operating officers to replace Gary Cohn, who left Goldman to join the Trump administration. Before that, Schwartz had been chief financial officer and Solomon had been co-head of investment banking.

Chief executive Lloyd Blankfein ,will, according to the Wall Street Journal, be leaving the firm this year (Blankfein demurred on Twitter). He has been in the job since 2006, leading Goldman through the financial crisis, conversion into a bank, a total re-regulation of the financial system, and into the rise of banks-as-technology-firms.

That suggests the job of chief executive may be a very different one to the role as it stood in 2006.

Here's what Solomon and Schwartz had to say — and how their podcasts were different.

In Solomon's episode, titled "A Conversation", he does not talk about himself until 15 minutes into the podcast. Schwartz, meanwhile, in an episode titled "Mentorship, Markets and More" begins talking about himself just 40 seconds in.

Both men talk extensively about technology, Amazon and they both mention Bruce Springsteen.

In his episode, David Solomon ranges across a variety of financial topics — geopolitics, the political and economic environment, monetary policy and low volatility, quantitative easing, tax policy, the rise of asset prices and the end of the recovery, active v passive investing, ETFs, liquidity, how Goldman Sachs clients in Australia see demand from China and wonder about the US. He finishes with a long discussion about disruptive tech.

In regards to Goldman’s business, Solomon talked about the new office in Bangalore, working on a recruitment policy to attract more women and minorities, serving clients with very good banking and disrupting with technology.

Schwartz discussed how governments struggle to create growth, quantitative easing, inflation, volatility and the recovering economy. He highlighted Goldman's push into consumer lending with the Marcus platform — and, like Solomon, stayed on message, saying that Goldman was serving clients with very good banking and disrupting with technology.

Their personal lives started from similar points, but followed very different paths. Solomon is from New York and Schwartz is from New Jersey. Neither moved far from home.

In his episode, Schwartz revealed a lot about himself. He talked about the effect of his mother’s death and how that slowed down his progress, getting out of high school and making a start. He lays out anecdotes about his personal struggle — which ends, of course, with Schwartz getting tough and working through it.

It's a charming approach, and many at Goldman will have been charmed by it — the New York Post said he was favourite as recently as Friday, noting that he'd "promised a lot of things to a lot of people".

Solomon doesn’t talk about himself until he explains his first job and muses how the neighbourhood of Wall Street has changed. 

The advice he receives from his dad is that everyone should take accounting class. He mentions the word entrepreneur, a lot. There's far less than in Schwartz's episode about who he is and more about what he wants to do and the world around him.

Then lastly, one man’s a black belt and the other is a DJ. 

Schwartz hates golf and loves a fight. Solomon curates and collects vinyl. “I was an analogue guy in college,” he says.

But both men, of course, are Goldman veterans. Solomon isn't a Goldman lifer, but joined the firm in 1999, while Schwartz joined the firm in 1997 through Goldman's acquisition of J Aron.

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