Goldman Sachs’ new Sustainable Finance Group charts ESG rise to the C-suite



ImpactAlpha, July 25 – “Two important factors – inclusive growth and climate transition – had become significant drivers of growth, risk, and operational efficiency for businesses and investors and thus, for Goldman Sachs,” John Goldstein writes to explain his new role as head of Goldman’s newly created Sustainable Finance Group.

Goldstein is a co-founder of Imprint Capital, which managed $550 million in assets when it was acquired by Goldman in 2015. Since then, he has helped build the ESG and impact investing business within Goldman’s investment management division to more than $27 billion in assets.

Goldman Sachs: Big investors press asset managers to integrate ‘ESG’ and impact across portfolios (podcast)

The new group “will coordinate sustainability across financing, advisory, risk management, asset management and investing,” Goldman said in a statement that offered little detail. “In the months ahead, we will develop specific goals and objectives for our work in this area,” the firm said.

In his new role, Goldstein says, “I’m still going to bike the kids to school and myself to work (always) and meetings (when I can). What’s new is getting to draw from and contribute to a broader set of clients and colleagues.”

  • Sustainability alpha. One of Goldstein’s jobs “is to help Goldman’s investors do better at doing what they do by incorporating environmental, social and governance into how we invest for all our clients,” Goldstein told ImpactAlpha in a podcast that was part of our Beyond Tradeoffs series with Omidyar Network. “That’s not for clients who care about these factors, but for clients who care about making money on risk-adjusted basis,” he says (read, and listen, to ImpactAlpha’s podcast interview with Goldstein, Goldman Sachs: Big investors press asset managers to integrate ‘ESG’ and impact across portfolios).
  • ESG in the C-Suite. In the last few years, the firm has gotten more sophisticated questions on ESG and sustainable finance from its largest clients, and senior colleagues at Goldman, Goldstein says. “These questions had risen to the C-suite and those executives wanted the same rigor, insight, and capabilities supporting them on ESG and impact that they sought on any other business or investment topic.”
  • Agents of impact. The new group will include Kyung-Ah Park, who will continue to lead the firm’s environmental markets and innovative finance work. Kara Succoso Mangone will serve as chief operating officer.

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