Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Chief Executive David Solomon said on Tuesday the bank was “considering strategic alternatives” for its consumer platforms business, which includes specialty lender GreenSky and credit card partnerships with Apple Inc. and General Motors Co.
Mr Solomon made the comments at the bank’s Investor Day.
“I’ve certainly done a lot of thinking over the past three years,” he said, referring to the bank’s consumer business. “There have been clear successes, but there have also been clear stumbles.”
Mr Solomon did not immediately offer further details, although the language he used could suggest a sale of GreenSky or its card partnerships. Less dramatically, it could represent some sort of restructuring of card deals to make them more lucrative for Goldman, or allowing another bank to become an issuer alongside Goldman.
Goldman is exploring alternatives while working to make GreenSky and the cards profitable. Should the latter occur, Goldman may not proceed with a sale or other change.
“We are focused on profitability, the right strategy and we will be nimble and flexible,” Solomon said. “We have considerably reduced our ambitions in terms of consumer strategy.”
Goldman, the epitome of a Wall Street firm for generations, is struggling to make inroads into Main Street banking. In results released in January, the bank revealed that the Platform Solutions unit had lost $3.8 billion before tax since the start of 2020.
Goldman said Tuesday it aims to break even before tax in Platform Solutions by 2025.
Platform Solutions includes GreenSky and Card Partnerships, collectively referred to as Consumer Platforms. It also includes another activity called transaction banking, which provides payment services to banks and businesses. This unit is currently profitable, the company said.
His statements were a stark departure from Goldman’s final Investor Day of 2020. Next, the company said it was building a leading consumer digital bank that would serve a range of consumer banking and borrowing needs.
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The stakes are high for Mr. Solomon. Many investors have grown frustrated because they believe Goldman hasn’t provided enough clarity on exactly what it wants to be. Some think Goldman’s efforts were too ambitious for a bank that didn’t have consumer loans in its DNA.
“It became clear that we were missing some competitive advantages and we did too much too quickly,” Solomon said on Tuesday.
The potential for a slowing economy, where overall delinquencies rise and banks need to set aside more money for bad debts, also helped convince Goldman to pull out.
Goldman Chairman John Waldron said Tuesday that consumer rigs are “significantly weighed down” by reserves and operating expenses. He said Goldman is focused on making “the right strategic decisions…to make sure we understand all the opportunities to unlock value.”
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