Goldman held an investor day and there were jokes

COPYING AND DISTRIBUTING ARE PROHIBITED WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE PUBLISHER: SContreras@Euromoney.com

By:
Published on:

The 150-year old bank looked inspired by Apple.

David-Solomon-Goldman-laughing-R-300.jpg

Goldman CEO David Solomon

Goldman Sachs’ partnership with Apple for its new credit card business is obviously rubbing off on the bank.

Its first ever investor day, held at its New York headquarters on January 29, looked less like a typical analyst meeting and more like an Apple keynote.

There were no black polo-necks, though: that would have been a step too far for a ‘storied’ 150-year old firm such as Goldman, for all its relaxed dress code these days. The C-suite all wore ties.

But there was plenty of prowling the empty stage armed with nothing more than a click-button to advance the huge slideshow projected behind. Some presenters were more mobile than others, although chief strategy officer Stephanie Cohen surely clocked up more miles than anyone else.

There were technology showcase ‘installations’ dotted around the building for folks to enjoy during the breaks. On the 11th floor Sky Lobby, there was even an ‘innovation cube’.

GOLDMAN SACHS
INVESTOR DAY
1. We've done it before: Goldman tells investors why they should trust its ambitions
2. Goldman and IB: where do you go from number one?
3. Goldman hunts better returns from challenged markets business
4. Opinion: Goldman reveals it's no longer special
5. Goldman's Lemkau: The cat who got the cream
6. Goldman held an investor day and there were jokes

Laughs

Surprisingly, there were also jokes.

Investor relations head Heather Miner got a few laughs out of her audience when introducing the entire day, by running through the usual warning about the presentations containing forward-looking statements, but also telling them she was “pretty sure that’s why you are all here”.

CEO David Solomon doesn’t always come across as a natural joker, and he had important things to be getting on with, such as telling the audience that although the question-and-answer session would be held after all the main presentations, they should feel free to break into open applause whenever it suited them.

And by the time of that Q&A, he was in a positively lighthearted mood, inviting one analyst to dinner as a reward for complimenting the bank on the investor day, and adding two others to that invitation over the course of the session.

But it was Tim O’Neill, co-presenting the asset management business, who was in a class of his own when it came to confidence on the stage. No one rattled through their charts quite as efficiently as O’Neill (“Top row, right quadrant!”).

But he knew when to go easier on the analysts, too. As with the other senior executives, O’Neill’s long tenure was pitched as a selling point. But with his 35 years, he trumps most of them.

He kicked off by comparing banking with the four stages of a typical Hollywood career: “Who is Tim O’Neill?” “Get me Tim O’Neill.” “Get me a younger, cheaper Tim O’Neill.” “Who is Tim O’Neill?”

They laughed at that, the hollow laugh of self-recognition as it wrestles with hubris. He knew his crowd.