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David Solomon admits a huge mistake at Goldman Sachs

January 18, 2023, 4:50 PM UTC
David Solomon.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs, David Solomon speaking at Panel 1 Navigating Through Uncertainty, during the Hong Kong Global Financial Leaders' Investment Summit on November 2, 2022 in Hong Kong, China.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was overly aggressive in pushing into the consumer space, doing “too much, too quickly,” which contributed to worse-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings, Chief Executive Officer David Solomon said.

“We obviously had a disappointing quarter and we tried to own that upfront,” Solomon said in a CNBC interview Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The investment-banking giant poured billions of dollars into its retail effort, which includes the Apple Card and specialty-lending platform GreenSky. That operation, which posted revenue of $513 million for the quarter, has racked up $3.8 billion in pretax losses over the past three years. Goldman on Tuesday reported a bigger increase in expenses than analysts expected as compensation costs surged 16% from a year earlier to $3.8 billion. 

Despite its missteps, New York-based Goldman “did some things right” in the consumer business, Solomon said. “We now have a very good deposits business,” he said, and the partnership with Apple Inc. is “an interesting opportunity to experiment and try different things.”

The bank’s return on equity for 2022 fell to 10.2%, below the 14%-to-16% target it set for itself earlier in the year. The firm’s shares slumped 6.4% on Tuesday, their biggest decline in a year.

Solomon also said in the interview that he’s hearing more indication that the economy may be able to dodge the recession that had been widely predicted.

“The sentiment is softening a little bit, and the view of the chance of a softer landing both in the US and Europe is actually increasing,” he said.

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