The best time to get hired to manage a billionaire’s money is while your firm is helping to create that fortune. That’s the thinking behind Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s push to have its dealmakers help the bank’s wealth managers land new clients.
The aim is to leverage the company’s dominance advising on acquisitions and equity offerings to narrow the gap with larger rivals in catering to the world’s richest.
Goldman’s annual client growth tends to come from those who recently made fortunes by selling companies or taking them public with the help of the investment bank, said Christopher French, who heads private wealth management in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
“We’re very much focused on the origination of new clients,” he said in an interview at the firm’s annual Charity Forum. While there’s no formal commitment or expectations that newly liquid entrepreneurs use the bank’s wealth management services, “it’s obviously a very positive introduction,” French said.
Fresh relationships are crucial for the unit as the bank embarks on a plan to gin up $5 billion in new revenue over the next three years. The investment management division, which houses the asset-management arm and wealth managers, is responsible for 20 percent of that growth.
Banks like Credit Suisse Group AG have sought to integrate wealth-management and investment-bank offerings to win the most lucrative clients.
Goldman’s private wealth-management unit works with individuals, families, foundations and endowments who typically entrust more than $40 million with the firm. But that’s not nearly enough to meet its lofty goals just yet.
Larger rivals like Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch target a wider swath of clients and each manages more than $2 trillion. Goldman handles just $458 billion, a mere 2 percent of the total ultra-high net worth market, according a May 31 presentation.
“Trying to win over the investment-banking clients for their private wealth business isn’t going to make them catch up with Morgan Stanley or Merrill,” said Danny Sarch, a wealth-management recruiter for more than three decades. “But that might not be what they’re going for. The issue is whether it will help them win more investment banking. When it works, it truly is synergistic.”