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Last updated: September 18, 2012 11:51 pm
David Viniar, the longest-serving chief financial officer on Wall Street, is to retire from his executive role at Goldman Sachs and will be replaced by Harvey Schwartz, the bank announced.
Mr Viniar, 57, who has been finance chief for 12 years, saw Goldman through the financial crisis in better shape than most of its peers. People inside the bank have said for more than a year that he was looking for an appropriate moment to retire.
“Everything about the firm is in very, very good financial shape,” Mr Viniar said on an impromptu investor call on Tuesday. “We’re performing as well as we could given the operating environment.”
Mr Schwartz, 48, global co-head of the securities division, will replace him in January after a four-month handover period.
Seen previously as an outside contender to replace Lloyd Blankfein as chief executive, Mr Schwartz inherits the entirety of Mr Viniar’s unusually broad portfolio, causing some questions from analysts about his experience for what is seen as one of the biggest jobs at any major financial institution.
“The key question is what this does to risk reporting,” said Brad Hintz, analyst at AllianceBernstein. Mr Hintz noted that Mr Viniar oversaw risk on top of his chief financial officer duties.
Goldman said Mr Schwartz would succeed Mr Viniar as co-head of the company’s risk committee and also retain or inherit responsibilities for regulation and technology, shrugging off suggestions that the roles be divided.
“As far as splitting it, there might have been speculation outside the firm . . . but it made complete sense to keep the job as it is,” said Mr Viniar.
Mr Schwartz acknowledged that he had spent much of his career on the client-facing part of the business but said he had also had to worry about the bank’s balance sheet.
“Even though these are huge shoes to fill . . . I will rely as much on the team as David has in the past and they’re excellent,” he added.
“Harvey’s risk management judgment and broad understanding of our business and our clients have defined his career and will be the basis of his strengths as an effective CFO,” said Mr Blankfein.
Mr Viniar is to join Goldman’s board as a director, a potentially controversial move which the bank looked to balance by saying it was looking to appoint more independent directors.
Mr Schwartz joined Goldman from Citibank in 1997 and was named a partner, the top echelon of the institution, in 2002.
The appointment may be seen as a blow for Liz Robinson, Goldman’s treasurer. Some Goldman-watchers had speculated that Ms Robinson was being prepared to replace Mr Viniar. The two have worked together since the financial crisis to improve the bank’s funding mix.
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