New Lloyd, same Goldman

“Today’s decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.’s leadership position in the world.”

With those 102 characters, Lloyd Blankfein introduced himself to Twitter, taking a swipe at President Donald Trump for pulling out of the Paris climate accord.

The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. chief executive officer’s June 1 debut on the social media platform was unusual. No other leader of a big U.S. bank has an official Twitter account. Most avoid taking stands on political issues in any venue for fear of igniting a backlash or damaging their brand. And Blankfein, who has been the target of public scorn for his bank’s role in the 2008 financial crisis, was opening himself up to more abuse.

“I felt there was some inevitability to it,” Blankfein said in a June 27 interview, six Twitter posts and 40,000 followers later. “In this world, part of my job is to make us understood because the consequences of not being understood were made quite vivid to me.”

Blankfein’s embrace of a new technology and his willingness to speak out on controversial issues go hand in hand with a strategic retooling as he begins his 12th year as the bank’s leader. Call it Lloyd 3.0. If the first act of Blankfein’s career ended with the crisis, and the second covered its aftermath, the third began a year and a half ago with his recovery from lymphoma and his decision to stick around.

His longtime deputy and heir apparent, Gary Cohn, took the cue and left for a job in Trump’s White House, precipitating a management reshuffle. Blankfein’s decision also led to questioning by some investors and analysts about whether he can rejuvenate a business that has struggled to show revenue growth for the past five years and where trading market share has stayed flat as rivals gained ground. Had the thinking at the top gone stale?

“They are a boat without an oar trying to navigate choppy waters,” said Brian Kleinhanzl, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. “If you don’t get better banking, better trading, then what are you going to do to improve revenue? I don’t know that they have an answer to that.”

Read more at Bloomberg.