Goldman Sachs hires ousted McKinsey head Kevin Sneader for top Asia-Pacific role

·4-min read

Goldman Sachs said on Thursday that it had hired Kevin Sneader, the former top executive at consulting firm McKinsey & Co who was ousted earlier this year, as its new co-president for Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan.

Sneader, 54, joins Goldman after 32 years at McKinsey and will serve alongside Todd Leland. He will relocate to Hong Kong later this year after being based here from 1996 to 1998 and from 2014 to 2020.

In his new role, Sneader will be responsible for overseeing Goldman’s ambitious expansion plans in the region, particularly in China. He will also serve on Goldman’s management committee.

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“The Asia-Pacific region continues to represent exciting growth opportunities for Goldman Sachs,” David Solomon, Goldman’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “Kevin’s international and Asia experience, and his deep relationships with global and Asian clients in multiple industries, will contribute significantly as we execute our strategy.”

In May, Goldman won approval from Chinese regulators to form a wealth management joint venture with state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). The American investment bank also plans to hire more than 400 employees in Hong Kong and mainland China. It also reached an agreement in December with its Chinese partner Beijing Gao Hua Securities to take 100 per cent control of its mainland securities joint venture.

Asia accounted for 14 per cent of Goldman’s revenue in 2020, or US$6.2 billion, and 3 per cent of its pre-tax profit, or US$419 million.

“It is particularly exciting to be joining at a time when tackling the complexity and capturing the opportunities of Asia have never been more important for clients inside and outside the region,” Sneader said.

Goldman is among a group of foreign banks, insurers and asset managers that are taking advantage of rule changes allowing them to seek full control of joint ventures and acquire new licences as China further opens up its financial sector.

David Solomon, Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO. Photo: Bloomberg
David Solomon, Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO. Photo: Bloomberg

Foreign financial firms are hoping to cash in on rising incomes in the Greater Bay Area and other parts of the world’s second biggest economy. Investible assets held by Chinese households are set to surpass US$70 trillion by 2030, with about 60 per cent allocated to securities, mutual funds and wealth management products, according to Goldman’s own investment research.

The expansion push by foreign lenders, including rivals Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, comes as heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing and a regulatory crackdown on China’s technology sector have weighed on cross-border deals and listings, particularly for Chinese companies seeking to go public in the United States.

Goldman’s reputation was somewhat bruised in the region last year after it agreed to pay nearly US$3 billion to settle an inquiry into its role in Malaysia’s 1MDB corruption scandal and its Malaysian unit agreed to plead guilty to violating US bribery laws.

Sneader joined McKinsey in London in 1989, working in Asia, Europe and the US in various roles. He was managing partner of the firm’s United Kingdom and Ireland business, and later led its Asian offices from 2014 to 2018, where he helped oversee McKinsey’s expansion in the region.

He was named global managing partner for McKinsey in 2018, but was not re-elected as the consulting firm’s top executive in February. He was the first person in more than four decades to serve just one three-year term as managing partner.

The move to replace Sneader at McKinsey followed his efforts to resolve a series of scandals that enveloped the firm, including a more than US$600 million settlement with state prosecutors over its work with opioid manufacturers in which he issued a personal apology.

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