Some of Goldman’s biggest problems trace to a time before Mr. Solomon was in charge. For instance, the bank’s move into consumer banking in 2016, with offerings of high-interest-rate checking accounts and a luxury-oriented credit card, happened under Mr. Solomon’s predecessor, Lloyd C. Blankfein. In its early stages, the business ran largely independently of Goldman’s operations, and its managers had the freedom to develop its customer base and technology offerings.
But Mr. Solomon’s handling of the business has drawn widespread criticism from investors and analysts. Early in his tenure, he merged the fledgling consumer bank with Goldman’s private wealth management arm. Suddenly, the oversight of Marcus was shared among many senior executives who previously had no input. Many of Marcus’s original managers left.
And then there is Mr. Solomon’s leadership style, which has created enough friction among senior employees that it could undermine the success of his strategy, according to seven people who spoke about his approach.
“David has a direct style, but he’s running a big, complex business,” said Mr. Fratto, the Goldman spokesman. Of employees’ criticisms of their boss, he said that it was not unusual to have different views about a chief executive’s style, but Mr. Solomon has shown flexibility. “If a strategy isn’t meeting our aspirations, David has shown the ability to adjust and pivot,” he said.
Goldman was founded in 1869 and evolved into a partnership not long after. Although it became a public company in 1999, the spirit of partnership and loyalty was a prized feature of Goldman’s culture.
More recently, it has dissipated. Since Mr. Solomon started, at least nine senior executives have left the bank, some of them for more lucrative opportunities. And with bonuses shrinking by as much as 50 percent across Wall Street as a result of the downturn in trading and investment banking activities, the incentives to remain are fewer.
Mike Mayo, a longtime banking analyst at Wells Fargo, said of Mr. Solomon: “He has a mission, and that mission is not to be the most-liked person at the firm.”