Goldman chief's dream career may yet turn into his nightmare

In The Spotlight: Lloyd Blankfein
Click to follow

Lloyd Blankfein may not have the polished manner one might expect of a leading Wall Street executive but he has the tenacity and, after rising to the summit of Goldman Sachs, he certainly has the bank balance.

Mr Blankfein's rags to riches story would deserve a chapter in a book about the American Dream. Born without privilege in New York's South Bronx, before eventually taking the top job at perhaps the world's most revered investment bank, Mr Blankfein earned $68.5m in 2007, setting a new record for a Wall Street banker at the height of the heady days of the pre-credit crunched markets.

But the pressure has been mounting on the 55-year-old. His instantly regrettable comment last year that Goldman was doing "God's work" was laughed off by his employer as a joke, but to those not on the inside of the investment banking industry, those two words summed up the breathtaking arrogance that continues to weigh heavily on the industry.

In recent weeks, Mr Blankfein has faced his toughest period at the helm after America's financial regulator, the US Securities and Exchange Commission, accused Goldman Sachs of fraud relating to deals done in the now toxic subprime mortgage market.

The bank rejects the charges, though now appears to be willing to accept that it acted negligently, in return for avoiding the more serious accusations. He may not survive the bank being found guilty of fraud, but if a deal is done with the regulators, the odds will be on Mr Blankfein's being able to continue doing what he believes is his divine work.