Goldman Sachs Co-CIO Has Big Plans for APIs, Finance Tech

Goldman Sachs Co-Chief Information Officer Marco Argenti has brought all sorts of kudos to the financial firm. Not only did his arrival from Amazon Web Services in October 2019 enable Goldman to boast about its ability to attract top technology talent to the firm, but Argenti plays guitar in a Seattle grunge rock band (or at least he did before moving to New York), and therefore helps to reinforce the notion that Goldman these days is actually very hip.

Argenti, meanwhile, is getting something in return. It’s not just Goldman’s generous pay package. At this week’s investor day, Goldman CEO David Solomon said Argenti has been very impressed by “the level of talent and dedication” among Goldman’s staff. 

While praising existing staff is a strong path to flattering the CEO, Argenti also expressed his enthusiasm for his role at Goldman in more detail later in the day.

This moment in history offers a “profound opportunity” to disrupt financial services, Argenti said. Automation of transactions, exponential growth in data, and the emergence of non-financial services players in the finance space have the potential to change everything: “Goldman Sachs is uniquely positioned to lead this transformation and that is why I joined he firm.”

Underlying this enthusiasm is Goldman’s already professed intention of becoming the API provider for all of finance. Argenti sees an opportunity for the firm’s APIs to evolve into a business of their own, in much the same way as AWS grew out of Amazon: “There is a clear opportunity for vertical cloud providers to offer more specific services to others in the industry.”

The intention is for Goldman to offer APIs that allow clients to build their own applications that access platforms such as Goldman’s risk management capabilities. The firm will do the “heavy lifting,” said Argenti. Clients can then get on with running the rest of their businesses. If you’re a client, this will clearly come at a price. 

Developers as Goldman Clients 

As Goldman pivots its business model to become the plumbing that underpins the financial services industry, its intended clients are also evolving. Whereas the firm was once all about wooing CFOs and hedge funds, it’s now about making sure developers at client companies want to plug into its infrastructure.

“Developers are first-class citizens and clients of Goldman Sachs,” Argenti said. “Developers are driving decision-making and the adoption of new technology. By focusing on the developer experience and making our APIs easy to use, developers will embed them in their applications and workflows and that will drive further consumption of Goldman Sachs products and services.”

Argenti, who describes himself on LinkedIn simply as an “engineer,” said he had used Goldman’s APIs as a developer himself, and had found them to be pretty fancy. By drawing more developers into its new net, Argenti said, the firm will be able to create a kind of “flywheel” to generate ongoing future revenues at minimal extra cost (high “marginal margins” in Goldman investor-day vernacular). 

A modified version of this article appeared in eFinancialCareers.