Goldman Sachs misses on revenue as business from investment banking and trading fell

Autor: Article based upon analysis from Reuters Breakingviews | Link: Goldman has its fingers in the wrong pies
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Goldman Sachs is among the only exceptions that did not benefit from the rising interest rates on Wall Street. The company reported a 5% year-over-year drop in revenue Tuesday, as trading and investment banking fees fell below year-ago levels.

Chief executive David Solomon is in the process of transforming the company, but until then Goldman will have to make its money the hard way.

Tighter monetary policy has been a windfall for firms with large loan books and loyal depositors who lend at high rates and borrow at low rates.

JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup together earned 34% more in interest in the first three months of 2023 than in the same period a year earlier.

Goldman, where interest accounts for only 15% of revenue, compared with about half at the other banks, is losing out. Goldman is trying to accumulate its own deposits, but at a high price, as evidenced by the high interest rate on a savings account launched this week with iPhone maker Apple.

Meanwhile, rising interest rates have curbed risk-taking by corporate leaders and private equity firms, wreaking havoc on Goldman’s investment bankers.

They contribute about a quarter of its revenue in a good year, more than double that of JPMorgan or Citigroup. Trading securities didn’t do much this quarter either, with fixed-income revenues down 17% – which looks worse than it’s because Goldman’s commodities division was booming this time last year.

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Solomon focuses on lending to trading clients rather than just moving securities for them, which benefits from rising interest rates. But that business is still relatively small.

Finally, there’s the consumer business, which remains in the red. Solomon is now considering selling Greensky, a buy-now-pay-later business that his firm bought just a year ago.

Goldman also wrote off 4.6% of its credit card and installment loans in the quarter. The consumer business remains strong, as evidenced by the 40% return on equity at JPMorgan’s retail bank.

But building that business from scratch as the credit cycle turns is the kind of expensive ambition that tests investors’ patience.

Aside from his about-face on retail banking, Solomon isn’t responsible for the forces holding Goldman back. It’s just that the areas where the bank excels look better right now, when interest rates are low and high-yielding assets like those the bank sells are hard to find. Solomon wants to transform Goldman into a bank for all seasons, but he’s not there yet.