Goldman Sachs’ Gary Cohn: The Prince Charles Of Wall Street
What do Goldman Sachs’ president Gary D. Cohn and Britain’s Prince Charles have in common? According to Dealbook, they have both waited what seems like forever to be king.
Charles may have become an heir-apparent at a young age, but Cohn spent years working for his position as Goldman CEO Lloyd C. Blankfein’s successor. The 52-year-old president joined Goldman Sachs in 1990 and served as the head of the commodities department in 1996. By 2002 he was chosen as the firm’s head of the Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities division. From 2003 until 2006 Cohn served as head of the global securities business before taking his place as president and co-chief operating officer and director.
But Cohn may be tired of waiting to step into Blankfein’s shoes.
“Mr. Cohn is growing increasingly restless, according to friends and colleagues,” wrote Dealbook’s Suzanne Craig. “Some inside Goldman wonder if he will depart if Mr. Blankfein doesn’t move soon. That would throw a monkey wrench into Goldman’s succession plans, leaving the firm without a natural candidate ready to replace Mr. Blankfein.”
In the past, many Goldman CEOs have pushed their predecessors out the door, although Blankfein earned his position after Henry Paulson accepted a position in the Bush cabinet in 2006.
“There’s a long tradition of Goldman Sachs people going into public service,” Blankfein told Politico. “It’s something…after you do this job it’s not like you’re going to go to another job in finance. Why would you do that? You can serve the public in philanthropy or government. I really don’t think about it. You don’t spend a lot of time thinking of your next position, when you are in such a consuming job…People think of it on behalf of me. I don’t think about it.”
In the wake of the financial bailout, however, there is little chance Blankfein will be offered any substantial government position. Many are beginning to wonder if 52-year-old Cohn will leave Goldman rather than wait for Blankfein to step aside, leaving the investment firm without a clear line of succession. Especially since Blankfein seems to finally be enjoying himself after surviving the financial crisis. Apparently, he’s grown a beard and is embracing the limelight afforded him as Goldman’s top dog. He’s even joked he will die at his desk.
Such statements are no laughing matter to Cohn, however. Will he grow too restless and depart Goldman? Or could he do as Goldman heir-apparents have in the past and work to force out Blankfein?
The CEO doesn’t appear concerned of either possibility. He responded to the Dealbook piece, describing it to Politico as “gossipy.” As Blankfein tells it, Goldman’s senior leadership, having served together for a long time, is “very stable.”
“Somebody who was assigned to Goldman Sachs didn’t have anything good enough to write for a while,” he said.