Goldman Sachs to sell wealth advisory unit to Creative Planning

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By Dan Sears

Goldman Sachs announced on Monday that it has unloaded its personal financial management business to the rival consultancy firm Creative Planning – undoing CEO David Solomon’s strategy to expand the Wall Street giant’s reach into the mass consumer market.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though Goldman said in a statement that it anticipates the sale, which is due to be completed later this year, will “result in a gain.”

Goldman sold off its Personal Financial Management unit, which manages some $29 billion in assets, four years after paying $750 million to acquire its precursor, United Capital.

Solomon intended the acquisition to be Goldman’s conduit to a bigger pool of clients beyond the ultra-rich – or those with at least $60 million to invest.

Goldman’s private wealth arm oversees $1 trillion in assets for ultra-high net worth clients, who have $60 million or more in investable assets.

But PFM, which was designed to cater to high-net worth individuals who can invest anywhere between $1 million and $10 million, failed to grab significant market share.

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While Goldman serviced 8% of the ultra-rich market, it only managed around 1% of the high-net worth market, according to a report issued by the bank’s asset and wealth management division in February.

CEO David Solomon
The latest sale is part of a shift in strategy after CEO David Solomon reorganized the firm into three units last year and scaled back ambitions for its consumer business.

“This transaction is progress toward executing the goals and targets we outlined at our investor day in February,” Marc Nachmann, global head of asset and wealth management at Goldman, said in a statement on Monday.

The sale “allows us to focus on the execution of our premier ultra-high net worth wealth management and workplace growth strategy” while continuing to support high net worth clients through a strategic partnership with Creative Planning, he said.

Creative Planning is a Kansas-based firm that numbers 2,100 employees. It currently has some $245 billion in assets under management.

Shares of Goldman Sachs were up 1.8% in afternoon trade.

Solomon has recently come under fire as the bank’s partners as well as rank-and-file employees have been unhappy with his leadership.

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Earlier this year, Goldman announced that it was selling its online consumer lending business, the fintech company GreenSky, a Solomon-led acquisition that has failed to be a money-maker for the bank.

Goldman paid $1.7 billion in March of last year to acquire GreenSky, but Wall Street observers now say the firm is soliciting bids from prospective buyers who are valuing the unit at less than half of that sum.

Goldman Sachs sign
Goldman bought the registered investment adviser, formerly known as United Capital Financial Partners, for $750 million in 2019.

Under Solomon, Goldman’s balance sheet has taken a hit. Last month, the bank reported a 58% drop in second quarter earnings – well short of Wall Street estimates.

Goldman’s floundering performance has sparked speculation that Solomon’s predecessor, Lloyd Blankfein, 68, may return to the CEO post.

Blankfein denied a recent New York Times report which claimed he offered to return to Goldman to assist his successor.

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