Credentials for a Top Investment Banking Job

The rumors as to who will succeed Lloyd Blankfein in what is arguably the #1 investment banking job in the world, CEO of Goldman Sachs, have begun to swirl.

Blankfein is reportedly exhausted after leading Goldman through the financial crisis and more recently, through battles with Congress over new regulations governing the industry, according to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Given the size and scope of Goldman’s business, the next choice of CEO could change the firm’s direction and influence decision makers around the world. Even after the bruising from a lawsuit by the SEC last year over questionable disclosure practices, Goldman remains the world’s most powerful investment bank. Its alumni, especially former chairmen, have gone on to take influential positions with many governments. This includes Robert Rubin and Henry Paulson, who went on to become U.S. Secretaries of the Treasury, Jon Corzine, who later became senator for New Jersey, and then governor of the state. Current Bank of Canada head Mark Carney is also a Goldman alum.

A look at the leading candidates to succeed Blankfein reveals that they come from trading backgrounds, as well. Each is a study in achievement.

British-born Michael Sherwood overseas the firm’s international business from his London office. Sherwood has deep knowledge of the fixed income and equities sectors, an area where Goldman makes the most money. However, Sherwood reportedly pushed Goldman into a 2008 deal with a petrochemical company that lost money, a black mark against his record.

Michael Evans, a Canadian and former Olympic gold medal winner in rowing, chairs Goldman’s Asian business. However, some Asian clients are reported to be angry at Evans because his division sold them structured financed investments which later performed poorly.

Gary Cohn is currently Goldman’s president and chief operating officer, and Blankfein’s top deputy in New York. Cohn, 50, joined the firm as a precious metals trader and made his mark over a decade ago by turning around Goldman’s trading operations and mortgage business. He has worked closely with Blankfein since 1990.

There’s no clear favorite at this point but insiders say it’s unlikely that Goldman will venture outside the firm for a successor, if and when Blankfein does step down.

What’s your take? What sort of background does the top dog at Goldman, or any other investment banking leader, require these days? Add your comments below.

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