Goldman Sachs will unveil a new chief of its consumer banking business as early as Tuesday, reshuffling leadership at the fledgling division as it braces itself for the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Harit Talwar, the former US cards boss at Discover who was the first employee of Goldman’s consumer bank Marcus, will hand over day-to-day running of the business to his longtime number two, Omer Ismail, a person familiar with the situation told the Financial Times. Bloomberg News reported the news earlier on Monday.
Mr Talwar will become chairman of the consumer division and remain a member of Goldman’s partnership under the reshuffle, which will become effective on January 1 and could be announced as early as Tuesday, the person said. Goldman declined to comment.
The 59-year-old has spent the past five years spearheading Goldman’s push to serve regular households in the US and the UK, instead of catering only to big institutions and the rich individuals who make up the 150-year-old bank’s traditional client base.
The effort, a key plank of Goldman’s push to diversify its revenue base, has enjoyed some success, attracting $92bn of deposits that help to lower Goldman’s funding costs. It also won a coveted credit card partnership with Apple and added new capabilities such as the budgeting app Clarity Money, which was recently rebranded as Marcus Insights.
Still, the consumer and wealth management division accounts for just 10 per cent of Goldman’s revenue in the bank’s most recent quarter, and is heading for more challenging times.
Along with America’s other lenders, Goldman has ratcheted up its loan-loss provisions in 2020, preparing for a surge in defaults from people whose earnings have been cut or eliminated by the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Goldman’s provisions are far lower than rivals such as Citigroup, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, because its lending business is far smaller, but the figures are rising and Goldman has the disadvantage of having never seen its loan book through a downturn before.
The Wall Street bank has also paused its push to expand its lending, people familiar with the situation told the FT, because the economic environment is too uncertain. Finance chief Stephen Scherr has spoken about slowing investment across Goldman in general, as the group braces itself for the pandemic’s fallout.
Mr Talwar, who spent 15 years at Citigroup and three at Morgan Stanley before joining Discover in 2004, has told colleagues that he always viewed leading Goldman’s push into consumer banking as a five-year project and that he believes the business is in good shape for him to hand over.
Earlier this year he was mooted as a possible chief executive for HDFC, one of the biggest lenders in his native India.
Mr Ismail, a Dartmouth and Harvard Business School Graduate who joined Goldman as an analyst in its investment banking division back in 2002, currently heads the group’s US consumer business.