Goldman Sachs (GS) faced a challenging year in 2023, marking its lowest profit since David Solomon took over as CEO. The full-year net income for 2023 was $8.52 billion, a 24% decrease from the previous year. This decline in profit was attributed to the slowdown in dealmaking across the industry and costs associated with exiting consumer lending.
Despite the annual challenges, Goldman Sachs experienced a notable gain in the fourth quarter. The fourth-quarter earnings of $2 billion marked a 51% increase from the same period the previous year. This turnaround was fueled by a surge in equities trading and higher asset and wealth management revenues.
While investment banking revenues were still down 12% from a year ago, they showed a 6% increase from the third quarter of 2023. The challenging market conditions in 2023 affected Wall Street as a whole, making it one of the industry’s toughest years in a decade.
Goldman Sachs, under CEO David Solomon, faced intense scrutiny throughout the year as it pursued a strategic retrenchment from consumer lending. The firm aimed to refocus on its core strengths in investment banking, trading, and asset management.
The move away from consumer banking, which had cost the firm $4 billion since 2020, involved selling various units catering to the mass affluent and specialty lender GreenSky. The firm also hinted at potential changes to its credit card partnerships with General Motors (GM) and Apple.
The broader decline in Wall Street’s performance was a continuation from 2022, following a booming 2021 when Goldman earned over $21 billion. Client caution about factors like interest rates, relations with China, and the overall US economy contributed to a slowdown in IPOs and dealmaking.
While 2023 was anticipated as a turnaround year, challenges persisted due to uncertainties in the economy, higher borrowing costs, geopolitical tensions, and concerns about a potential recession. The year ended with doubts about the timeline for sustained gains and the need for more certainty from business leaders.
Looking ahead, Wall Street anticipates a better year in 2024, with expectations for increased mergers and initial public offerings. The potential catalyst for improvement is seen in the Federal Reserve’s expected end to aggressive monetary tightening, with interest rate cuts predicted as early as March. However, uncertainties, such as the Fed’s actions and the possibility of inflation surges, could impact the industry’s trajectory.