Goldman Sachs CEO: The real opportunity for us is around asset and wealth management

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said Tuesday that asset management and wealth management would be the growth engine for the bank after his efforts in consumer finance went awry.

“The real story of opportunity for growth for us in the coming years is around asset management and wealth management,” Solomon told CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin. Solomon added that Goldman was already the fifth-biggest active asset manager in the world.

“There’s real opportunity across the firm for us to continue to make the firm more durable,” Solomon said.

He also acknowledged that the company didn’t “execute well” on parts of his consumer push, but added that management would reflect and learn from the episode.

Shares of the New York-based company slipped 3% in midday trading.

Goldman was scheduled to hold its second-ever investor day later Tuesday. The firm released a slideshow for the event online, in which it gave updated targets for growth in its asset and wealth management division and a 2025 break-even target for its money-losing platform solutions division.

It also reiterated its target for 15% to 17% return on tangible equity, a key metric tracked by bank investors.

Possible sales?

During opening remarks for his investor conference, Solomon said the bank was weighing “strategic alternatives” for Goldman’s consumer platforms.

That could mean a further retrenchment from retail banking if Goldman decides to sell its GreenSky lending business, which it acquired just last year for $2.24 billion, or restructure its card agreements with Apple or General Motors.

It could also decide to do nothing amid efforts to make the division profitable, said a person with knowledge of the matter.

The disclosure seemed to add greater uncertainty around the bank’s go-forward strategy with its smallest business. When an analyst asked Solomon about the strategic connection between consumer lending and other operations, the CEO said there was little to add beyond what he’s already said.

“I appreciate that everyone wants more answers on the consumer platforms and their trajectory going forward,” Solomon said.

Frustration builds

In response to another question, Solomon said the bank wasn’t seeking to add partnerships beyond the Apple and GM card products.

When asked by a third analyst about the timing of possible strategic alternatives for the consumer unit, Solomon appeared to grow flummoxed.

“I know that everyone wants answers to things,” Solomon said, drawing scattered laughter from the crowd. “Clearly I can’t answer that.”

Goldman is also planning to find buyers for a portfolio of consumer loans created by the now-shuttered Marcus loans business, said Marc Nachmann, global head of asset and wealth management.

“The firms’ core businesses remain strong and most of its strategic initiatives are making good progress, but achieving profitability in consumer platforms and realizing $1 billion in cost savings are key to meeting and sustaining medium-term targets,” David Fanger of Moody’s said in a statement.

Goldman Sachs prepares for investor day as concerns mount over CEO David Solomon


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