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Revenge of the Wall Street Nerds: Street Whispers


Now that Vikram Pandit is out at Citigroup (NYSE:C), Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) are the only pre-crisis era CEOs left on a Wall Street that is now dominated by "risk management" types.

Among the nation's five largest investment banks, which also includes Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and Bank of America Merrill Lynch (NYSE:BAC), Blankfein and Dimon are also the only two big bank heads left who are seen as cutting their teeth in the trenches of Wall Street.

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Pandit's suspected ouster now puts Blankfein and Dimon in the position of being the deserved ranking statesmen for risk taking on Wall Street, as chief executives like Brian Moynihan of Bank of America and James Gorman of Morgan Stanley pare back some trading and private equity businesses, in favor of more staid operations such as brokerage.

The collapse of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns in 2008 -- in addition to management transition at firms -- cut loose a generation of CEOs who rose from trading floors to C-Suites on Wall Street. Replacements now are likely to have a pedigree in legal affairs, with Bank of America's Moynihan as the best example of a legal eagle CEO. Or they are prone to have experience in less risky banking businesses units, such as Morgan Stanley's Gorman (wealth management) and Pandit's replacement at Citigroup Michael Corbat (commercial banking).

But that's not the whole story.

In fact, there are plenty of trader and banker CEOs left in finance -- it's just that they run firms a step removed from Wall Street away from the big five banks.

For instance, Larry Fink, the architect of the world's largest asset manager BlackRock (NYSE:BLK), cut his teeth running the bond department at First Boston as junk debt came en vogue in the 1980's. He was also a pioneer in mortgage trading and bundling up real estate backed debt.

Fink went on to co-found BlackRock in the late 1980's after rising interest rates blew up parts of First Boston's mortgage business and he's since grown the firm into a monolith that holds roughly $3 trillion in client assets and is a key player in most stock and bond markets. Recently, BlackRock bought Barclays (NYSE:BCS) Global Investors from British lender Barclays, in what stands as one of the biggest post-crisis bank deals as some were selling assets to raise capital.

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