Blankfein emerges as Dimon stumbles
There have been many lessons learned from the financial crisis and its aftermath.
One big lesson from a PR point of view is that public image matters more than some executives, especially those at non-consumer-facing banks, might have previously thought. Goldman Sachs was certainly dragged through the mud as the crisis unfolded. JPMorgan Chase used that as an opportunity to position its CEO, Jamie Dimon, as the elder statesman in the industry, the top dog so to speak.
But the recent near-scandal involving a multi-billion dollar "hedging" loss has tarnished the reputation of Dimon and his bank, and the power pendulum may have swung back in Goldman Sachs' favor. The gilded bank has been on a push to raise the public profile of Blankfein, and the effort is bearing fruit.
"The recent public emergence of Mr. Blankfein has taken many Wall Street insiders by surprise — and raised questions about whether the 57-year-old executive, who just celebrated his sixth year at the helm of the company, is now managing his image with an eye to his legacy," according to DealBook.
That may not be the best interpretation. It may be that Blankfein and his PR employees have decided that becoming the face of the financial crisis was not a good thing, and that a better image was needed. There will always be a negative perception as far as the crisis is concerned, but the image doesn't have to be vampire-squid negative. So I'm not sure that this presages a CEO transition. But I do think that Blankfein will leave once he's convinced that he will not be perceived as leaving under a cloud. The near-scandal at JPMorgan actually that makes day seem sooner rather than later.
- here's the DealBook article