If Lloyd Blankfein has a retirement date in mind, he wasn’t going to share it with his audience in Boston.
The Goldman Sachs chief was interviewed by State Street CEO Jay Hooley — who, by the way, is making his own retirement plans — at the Boston College Chief Executives Club on Thursday. Blankfein held forth at the Boston Harbor Hotel on various topics: the financial meltdown, Goldman’s push into retail banking, and his use of Twitter to get his messages across.
Then there was the topic of his pending retirement. Blankfein has been the investment bank’s CEO for 12 years, making him one of Wall Street’s longest-serving top bosses. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that he could retire as soon as the end of this year. David Solomon, a Blankfein lieutenant, subsequently emerged as the heir apparent.
Blankfein, 63, noted how reading about his retirement reminded him of the story of Huck Finn listening to his own eulogy, an observation he originally posted on Twitter.
“It wasn’t right,” Blankfein said of the original Wall Street Journal article. “But it may not be wrong forever.”
Hooley asked Blankfein if he had a next act lined up. No, not yet. “I’m worried about it,” Blankfein said.
The timing of Blankfein’s departure remains unclear. But he is steeling himself for the inevitable.
“When things are going badly, you can’t leave,” Blankfein said. “When things are going well, you don’t want to leave. So almost by definition, you have to leave when you don’t want to leave. I know that I have to leave when I don’t want to leave.”
State Street, meanwhile, has made no secret about Hooley’s departure. In November, the Boston-based financial giant said Hooley would retire from the CEO post by the end of 2018, and will remain as chairman throughout 2019. Ron O’Hanley was promoted to president and chief operating officer, and will succeed Hooley as CEO.