Goldman Sachs Will Need To Provide Multiple Successors For CFO David Vinair

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Generally speaking, when people gather around to play a parlor game of guessing who will replace whom on Wall Street, they a) are discussing Chief Executive Officers and b) choosing one of several names for their pick of successor. Not today. Because today we speak of David Viniar, Goldman Sachs' Chief Financial Officer since 1999. According to Bloomberg, DV "may not be replaceable," period. Logic dictates that that should be the end of the discussion. In the event Viniar decides not to work for Goldman in perpetuity, however, contingency plans must be made. As such, a few names of potential successors have been thrown out (Controller and Chief Accounting Officer Sarah Smith, Treasurer Elizabeth “Liz” Beshel) and while they sound like okay candidates, are simply not enough. Because in this particular case, we need an army to replace one man.

The longest-serving chief financial officer of any major Wall Street firm may find his multiple roles distributed among two or even three deputies when he eventually steps down, according to two people with knowledge of the firm’s internal deliberations...Some executives at the firm are skeptical that any single successor would be as adept as Viniar in handling all those functions, the people familiar with the situation said.

Has the gravity of the situation not yet penetrated? Then let us lay some truth on your ass.

Investors are more concerned about Viniar’s eventual successor than they are about replacing Blankfein, 56, the chairman and chief executive officer since 2006, said Roger A. Freeman, an analyst at Barclays Capital...“David’s the brains behind the operation -- the institutional knowledge that guy has is just unmatched,” said Roger A. Freeman, an analyst at Barclays Capital, who has a “neutral” rating on Goldman Sachs shares. “It’s difficult to imagine that there are many people that can juggle as many balls as he does seemingly effortlessly.”

That's right, ladies. While Lloyd has been working us with that smile, it's been Viniar who's been working the command center. When he leaves, which he says he won't "until a sense of calm has been restored in the operating environment," Goldman is going to have to provide forty, possibly fifty people, working at together at full capacity, to maybe do the job of one Viniar.

Being Goldman Sachs’s Brains May Make Viniar Irreplaceable CFO [Bloomberg via BI]

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David Viniar's Work Here Is Done

Back in 2009, Goldman Sachs Chief Financial Officer David Viniar, whose face may not be as recognizable to you as that of Lloyd's but whose voice you've likely found just as if not more soothing each time you hear it during the firm's earnings calls, decided he was ready to move on after a three-plus decade long career with The Firm. Normally, that would have been just fine; people would have wished Viniar all the best as he happily waved good-bye to all his colleagues and friends from the gondola lift made of fluffy clouds and money that transports all Goldman Sachs executives to retirement. Unfortunately for DV, however, it was around the time that he started to think about leaving that Goldman hit some unfortunate rough patches that included "a civil fraud suit by the Securities and Exchange Commission over marketing of mortgage-related securities, a federal criminal probe on the same matter, and a civil suit brought by a hedge fund that bought a Goldman CDO." And while other higher-ups-- no names: Jon Winkelried-- would have thought nothing of abandoning Lloyd in his time of need or what kind of message it would have sent that a top official was calling it quits, David "Bones" Viniar is  a little more loyal than that. Lot more loyal in fact ("He's so loyal he's only going to do anything when the timing is appropriate," one person said at the time, adding that "David will do whatever the firm asks of him") and so he stayed. Stayed by Lloyd's side during his darkest hour. Stayed when the Goldman needed him most. And although some might have hoped he'd forget about wanting to leave; that he could be tricked into staying "just one more year" and another and another and another after that; that that good-bye he put on hold would stay on hold forever; that, if all else failed, Gary Cohn could put him in a sleeper hold with his legs...that good-bye has come. Goldman Sachs today announced that Harvey M. Schwartz, the global co-head of the Securities Division, will become Chief Financial Officer at the end of January 2013. After a distinguished 32 year career at the firm, including 12 years as the Chief Financial Officer, David Viniar has decided to retire and will join the Board of Directors as a non-independent director at that time. The firm expects to appoint additional independent directors to its board in the near term. David Viniar retiring as Goldman CFO [FT Alphaville] Related: David Viniar Stands By His Man

Goldman Sachs Probably Won't Be Laying People Off Anytime Soon

People being the operative word here, as the statement "we're going to look for other means for efficiency" most certainly suggests plants may once again find themselves on the chopping block. After a year of cost-cutting that resulted in more than 2,400 job cuts, Goldman Sachs is satisfied with its staffing levels and doesn't intend to conduct more large layoffs. Chief Financial Officer David Viniar said the firm has "largely implemented our announced expense reductions" and is "relatively well-positioned, assuming the environment stays where it is." He was speaking on a conference call with analysts to discuss first-quarter earnings. "We're going to look for other means for efficiency," he said. "I wouldn't expect anything major to change from where we are." Goldman Sachs Ends Layoffs [FINS] Related: Layoffs Watch ’11: Goldman Sachs’ Philodendrons In The Line Of Fire