AT A TIME when most investment bankers count themselves lucky to last a decade at one company, Alfred Feld has stood apart.
Feld, who died this week aged 98, worked at Goldman Sachs for more than 80 years.
He joined the bank as a messenger in July 1933, when Goldman was still recovering from the Great Depression and co-founder Samuel Sachs had recently retired. At his job interview in New York, he was reportedly told that “things are so bad here there is only one way they can go, and that is up”.
After gaining a degree in accounting and an MBA at night school, Feld started covering the mining industry for the bank’s research department. He later covered the American railroad companies. He returned to the bank having served in World War II, selling stocks and bonds before moving to look after institutional clients.
He worked in private wealth management until his death, known in the bank for his straightforward investment advice and a closely-held client list.
In 2003, at the age of 88, he told the Wall Street Journal that he had no plans to retire, but fretted that he would outlive most of his clients.
“Al was a participant in over half of our firm’s 144-year history and witnessed some of our most important developments, including the codification of our Business Principles in 1979,” said chief executive Lloyd Blankfein and president Gary Cohn in a staff memo. “He embodied many of these principles, especially the first one which states that our clients’ interests always come first.”
Feld’s influence continues to be felt at the firm: Blankfein said earlier this month that his career plan amounts to “staying forever and dying at my desk”.