The Most Influential People on Wall Street

Wall Street is filled with many big players who exert a tremendous amount of influence on the global financial markets. They serve as institutional investors, CEOs and hedge fund managers to some of the biggest financial companies in the world. As the 2008 financial crisis clearly demonstrated, they also hold significant political influence, helping to secure massive bailouts for their cash-strapped firms. Below we survey some of the most influential people on Wall Street and look at why they are so important.

Lloyd Blankfein – CEO, Goldman Sachs Group

Goldman Sachs was at the centre of the storm during the 2008 financial crisis, as politicians and ordinary citizens turned against the company that seemed to represent all that is wrong with Wall Street. Lloyd Blankfein, who became CEO just two years prior, helped navigate the company through the muddy waters. Today, Goldman Sachs is stronger than ever before, and its success has turned Mr. Blankfein into a billionaire. In fact, Goldman shares have quadrupled since it went public in 19991, cementing its place as America’s largest full-service investment bank.

James Dimon – CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Perhaps no other bank leader has emerged from the 2008 financial crisis with more respect than James Dimon, who heads America’s third-largest full investment bank JPMorgan Chase. Under the guidance of Mr. Dimon, JPMorgan has emerged as one of the top investment banks in the world. His leadership is well known for inspiring fierce loyalty among his employees. Amid the changing financial landscape, the 53-year old has done a phenomenal job grooming the next generation of financial leaders who will succeed him once he decides to step down2.

Stephen Schwarzman – Chairman and CEO, Blackstone Group

As the head of the largest alternative investment firm in the world, it’s easy to see why Stephen Schwarzman is so powerful. Blackstone Group, which was founded in 1985, has a staggering $311 billion of assets under management3. It is widely considered to be the one of the most successfully institutionalized private investment firms in America, rivaled only by the Washington, D.C.-based Carlyle Group4.

Thomas Montag – President, Global Banking and Markets, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Bank of America came under fire in 2008 by purchasing the embattled Merrill Lynch, which received billions of dollars in bailout funding under the federal government’s TARP program. The move is believed to have cost former Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis his job. In the years since the crisis, Tom Montag has done a great job demonstrating the logic of the acquisition. Mr. Montag’s global markets business earned virtually all of the bank’s profits during the first nine months of 20095. Since then, Bank of America Merrill Lynch has solidified itself as the fourth-largest investment bank in the United States.

James Gorman – CEO-designate, Morgan Stanley

By designating James Gorman CEO, Morgan Sachs affirmed its commitment to trading and other investment banking activities. Mr. Gorman, who has an exceptional background in strategic planning and asset management for some of Wall Street’s most powerful banks, oversaw the creation of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, which is today the world’s largest brokerage firm6.

Robert Diamond Jr – President, Barclays

In just one decade, Robert Diamond Jr. made Barclays Capital – the bank’s securities branch – into one of the world’s largest investment operations. However, his biggest move would come years later when he purchased the US subsidiary of the now-dissolved Lehman Brothers in September 2008. He now sits in Lehman’s previous Times Square headquarters with one ambition: To make Barclays a top-three firm across all banking operations7.

Janet Yellen – Chair, United States Federal Reserve

Janet Yellen may not be on Wall Street, but she still manages to exert tremendous influence on the world of finance. As the Chair of the Federal Reserve, Ms. Yellen is one of the most closely followed personalities in the global financial markets. Stock pickers, analysts, institutional investors and corporations go through her speeches with a fine toothed comb to determine the Fed’s next course of action. She is perhaps the only person who can influence Wall Street with just a few words. The run-up to the December 2015 interest rate announcement was a prime example of this. For this reason, no discussion of the most influential people on Wall Street is complete without mentioning the Fed boss. Ms. Yellen is the first woman to ever head the US central bank, making her the most powerful woman in the world’s most powerful economy.

  1. Michael J. Moore and Pamela Roux (July 17, 2015). “Lloyd Blanfein Is Now a Billionaire.” Bloomberg Business.
  2. CNBC. “The 10 Most Influential People on Wall Street.” CNBC.
  3. Kenneth Leon (July 3, 2015). “S&P’s Outlook on Blackstone.” Money Show.
  4. NYMag. The Influentials: Wall Street.
  5. CNBC. “The 10 Most Influential People on Wall Street.” CNBC.
  6. CNBC. “The 10 Most Influential People on Wall Street.” CNBC.
  7. CNBC. “The 10 Most Influential People on Wall Street.” CNBC.

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