Alfred Feld, who joined Goldman Sachs & Co. (GS:US) in 1933 and rose from office boy to private-wealth manager and became the firm’s longest-serving employee, has died. He was 98.
He died on Nov. 25 in Palm Beach, Florida, according to a memo distributed yesterday by Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein and President Gary D. Cohn. No cause was given.
Feld worked at Goldman Sachs for more than half the New York-based firm’s history, interrupted only by his service in the U.S. Army during World War II, Blankfein and Cohn wrote.
“Al was a very likable, upbeat and engaged person -- probably a longevity-enhancing lesson for the rest of us,” Stephen Friedman, a former Goldman Sachs chairman and current chairman of Stone Point Capital LLC in Greenwich, Connecticut, said today in an e-mail.
As recently as 2008, Feld was still working three days a week managing money for some of the wealthiest Americans, according to a New York Times profile at the time. His client list at one point included Walter Sachs, a grandson of firm co-founder Marcus Goldman, he told the Wall Street Journal in 2003.
He said his wealth-management strategy was to stick with the stocks of good companies, including Procter & Gamble Co. and Merck & Co., two longtime favorites. He sat out the dot.com Internet boom, because “I never understood tech,” the Journal quoted him as saying.
Many of Feld’s modern-day clients were the third generation of their families to entrust money to him, John C. Whitehead, co-chairman of Goldman Sachs from 1976 to 1984, said today in an interview.
“The original customers passed him on to their children, who passed him on to the grandchildren,” said Whitehead, 91, who worked 37 years at the firm. “That’s a wonderful thing to say about the quality of a person and his ability over a long, long lifetime, and we like to think it’s typical for Goldman Sachs.”
In their memo on Feld, Blankfein and Cohn wrote:
“His reputation for sound and conservative client coverage was widely known, and he advised some of the firm’s most significant relationships, many of whom have transitioned through multiple generations. He was also an active and tireless mentor to our people, and we have been privileged to benefit from his wisdom, leadership and perspective over the last eight decades.”
Feld this year celebrated his 80th anniversary with the bank, which had 200 employees, including five partners, when he joined. The firm became Goldman Sachs Group Inc. when it went public in 1999 and now employs more than 32,000 people.
Ten years ago, the 88-year-old Feld rose each day at 6:30 a.m. to make his 90-minute train commute from his home in New Jersey, according to the Journal profile. He would work out each Tuesday with a personal trainer in Goldman’s private gym, the Journal reported.
Feld was born on March 7, 1915, in Jersey City, New Jersey, one of two children of Louis and Elsie Feld, according to U.S. Census records.
He graduated from high school in 1931 and joined Goldman Sachs at age 18. He started as a messenger in mail operations before being promoted within five days to “office boy,” according to Andrea Raphael, a spokeswoman for the bank.
He went to school at night to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA from New York University, Raphael said.
He later covered the railroad industry as a research analyst, before becoming a financial adviser.
He joined the firm’s first retail securities sales group in 1948, becoming a broker “to make some money,” he told the Journal, which said he was one of 10 Goldman employees catering to individual investors at the time.
Feld is survived by his daughter Marjorie and son Arthur, according to the memo. His wife, Mildred Feld, died in 1983.
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