- Harit Talwar, Goldman Sachs’ former consumer banking chief who led Marcus from its inception through 2020, is leaving the bank next month, the Financial Times reported Thursday.
- Talwar’s transition out has been a yearlong journey punctuated by an unexpected return to duty. The bank announced in September 2020 that Talwar would hand day-to-day operations of Marcus to his longtime deputy, Omer Ismail, but would become chairman of Goldman’s consumer division Jan. 1, 2021, and remain a partner at the bank. However, Ismail and Marcus’ head of large partnerships, David Stark, left Goldman in late February to join Walmart’s fintech startup. Talwar resumed leading Marcus day to day temporarily until Goldman hired Uber’s Peeyush Nahar in May to serve as Marcus’ next top executive.
- Talwar is the latest of a dizzying number of executives to leave Goldman Sachs this year. The bank this month announced its CFO, Stephen Scherr — a 28-year Goldman veteran — would step down from that role Jan. 1 and leave the bank Jan. 31.
Talwar had pitched Marcus as a "lovable teddy bear" — to counteract Goldman Sachs' recession-era characterization as a "vampire squid." Marcus helped Goldman diversify beyond its investment banking focus, attracting $100 billion in deposits, growing its customer base to 8 million — and its staff to 2,000 — and securing a lucrative credit-card partnership with Apple. Marcus now counts nearly $10 billion in loans and card balances, the Financial Times reported.
“We set out to build a fintech inside a 150-year-old investment bank. There were many skeptics — some frankly inside the firm and many more outside — about whether this could be done,” Talwar told the publication. “If you look at what we’ve accomplished the last five years, whether at the size of deposits, the range of products, the range of partnerships, it is unprecedented. It is, in our minds, one of the best fintech stories in the industry.”
Talwar had told colleagues he saw his leadership of Marcus as a five-year project, the Financial Times reported last year. Before joining Goldman in 2015, Talwar worked for 11 years with Discover, last serving as president of the U.S. cards division. He also was head of consumer banking at Morgan Stanley, and spent 15 years at Citi.
This year’s flight from Goldman, meanwhile, isn’t limited to late-career executives. The bank’s general counsel, communications chief, head of diversity and asset-management co-head have all announced their departure since March.
Credit Suisse in July hired away two 24-year Goldman veterans: Deputy Chief Risk Officer David Wildermuth, and a leading tech executive, Joanne Hannaford.
But Marcus has been particularly hard-hit. It lost two heads of product within three months: First, Adam Dell announced in mid-January he would step down. Then, Sonali Divilek left in April to join JPMorgan Chase just months after being named Dell’s successor.
Marcus's CFO, Sherry Ann Mohan, also left for JPMorgan in May.
The consumer bank has seen a raft of departures among its rank and file, too, amid an aggressive product rollout schedule that, since the start of 2020, has included the launch of a Marcus app, checking accounts, the Insights personal finance management tool, the robo-advisory service Invest, and work to transition GM’s credit-card portfolio. Stephanie Cohen, Goldman’s global co-head of consumer and wealth management, told the Financial Times this week that Marcus was “close” to launching checking.
Marcus has lost at least one-quarter of the engineers who had been a part of the consumer bank’s early days, one engineer who left late last year told Business Insider, although Goldman disputes that figure.
"The departure estimates are overstated and our business continues to be a magnet for talent," bank spokesperson Andrew Williams said, adding that attrition stood at about 14% in the past year across the consumer technology group.
Williams downplayed Goldman’s executive talent drain, as well. "Our business has serious momentum and a deep and growing bench of talent," he told Bloomberg when news broke that Ismail and Stark were leaving.
For its part, Marcus has begun rebuilding either from inside or by luring back recent departures. Goldman tapped Scherr’s chief of staff, Liz Ewing, to become Marcus’ CFO in June. Marcus rehired its former chief risk officer, Brian King, to become head of business operations after a short stint at Wells Fargo. It also promoted from within, tapping Chantal Garcia as its chief operating officer and head of talent strategy; Scott Young as chief commercial officer; Abhinav Anand to become its top lending executive; and Marcos Rosenberg to lead deposits and investments in the U.S.