Office boy at 18, employee spent 80 years at Goldman Sachs

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Posted: Friday, November 29, 2013 12:00 am

Alfred Feld, who joined Goldman Sachs & Co. 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 Monday in Palm Beach, Fla., according to a memo distributed 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, Conn., said.

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 Internet boom, because “I never understood tech,” the Journal quoted him as saying.

“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,” Blankfein and Cohn wrote. “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.

Feld 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.

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