(Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein said it is too early to say that Wall Street business is down because the industry has fundamentally changed.
“I don’t think we can conclude that the slowdown is secular, rather than cyclical,” Blankfein said at an investment conference in New York.
Trends of globalization and advancing technology are long term and will create demand for future financing, trading and investment management, he said.
“What Goldman Sachs does for our clients is even more relevant and important,” Blankfein said.
Goldman’s business has suffered this year as its client trading profit has dropped and its investments have weakened. The bank’s return on equity, a measure of profitability, for the first three quarters was 6 percent, excluding a one-time item, far lower than the 30 percent the company generated before the financial crisis.
Future profits may be hampered by regulations, which has spurred many shareholders to dump the stock.
Goldman shares are down more than 40 percent this year to trade around 82 percent of tangible book value, which is the difference between its reported tangible assets and liabilities.
Blankfein predicted that Goldman’s clients will become vocal in warning regulators that proposed new rules could stop the firm from providing services they need, such as liquid markets and ready inventories of securities.
“In our conversations with clients, they have expressed several concerns on the impact to their businesses,” Blankfein said. Goldman will make client interests a theme of its arguments over the regulations, he said.
Details of the so-called Volcker Rule to ban proprietary trading by big banks could restrict the firm’s ability to provide clients with liquid markets and financial risk management, he said.
In response to a question, Blankfein reaffirmed his support for mark-to-market accounting, where companies record the value of their assets at their market value, and changes in values are reflected in earnings. A recent report that Goldman was backing away from mark-to-market accounting was not accurate, he added.
Goldman shares fell $1.10, or about 1 percent, to $98.24 in New York Stock Exchange trading after Blankfein spoke Tuesday morning.
Reporting by David Henry in New York; Editing by Maureen Bavdek