Marty Chavez: Goldman's Cuddly New Face Of Oblivion

Beware the chill wind of automation.
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This week's C-suite shakeup at Goldman Sachs has left David Solomon and Harvey Schwartz to fill the departing Gary Cohn's shoes as co-COOs, while Marty Chavez replaces Schwartz as CFO. The upshot: Chavez's fuzzy, smiling face will be the last thing many Goldman staff see before facing oblivion.

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A gay Latino man who until now was chief information officer, Chavez has been celebrated for representing, in the words of the Times, “a departure in sensibility from the buttoned-down partners of Goldman lore.” Not only does he deviate from the cueball look typical of Goldman execs, but he smiles a lot.

Yet behind the beard is a cold cost-cutting machine, eFinancialCareers reports.

Chavez’ elevation to the CFO position should be enough to strike fear into the hearts of the 26,000 people at Goldman Sachs who don’t work in technology or quant roles. Chavez is a fearsome proponent of automation and ‘efficiencies,’ and with Chavez as CFO those two things are likely to be chased harder than ever.

Earlier this year, the New York Times reported that Chavez had ruffled feathers at Goldman by telling staff they needed to upgrade their skills if all they were doing is pushing buttons. The same might well apply to anyone at Goldman who’s doing no more than using the firm’s quantitative tools to relay trading ideas to clients.

No one is safe. Some traders saw their work automated when Chavez helped develop SecDB – a technology that was later offered to clients under the name Marquee. Some investment bankers might also turn out to be so much fat to trim. The IPO process, Chavez has said, is “ripe for workflow automation.”

Chavez may have sweet Japanese arm tattoos and a penchant for silent meditation, but he's not going to shy away from doing the unlovable job of terminating obsolete employees. At least there will be a happy face leading Goldmanites to the cliff.

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