Steve Schwarzman: Wall Street’s arch dealmaker

Steve Schwarzman has had an illustrious career in finance, while his friendship with Donald Trump has made him a pivotal figure in the US-China trade war. Yet he remains a relative unknown. Jane Lewis reports.

Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman © JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

"A most unusual manunknown to most Americans", is how the doyen of US business culture, Steve Forbes, describes Steve Schwarzman. It's a strangely amorphous introduction to the co-founder of Blackstone, one of the world's largest asset managers especially since, according to Forbes, Schwarzman's "entrepreneurial bent" has made him "the most influential" American financier "since the original J.P. Morgan".

A good locust

During the financial crisis, Schwarzman played a useful role advising the US Treasury. His international connections and longtime friendship with Donald Trump have since seen him emerge as a "back channel in US-China relations", says Lionel Barber in the Financial Times. Much in demand among peers as a "Trump whisperer", he's a prolific philanthropist who has built one of the most successful businesses on the planet. Yet Steve Schwarzman has "never quite received the credit he believes he deserves".

Schwarzman grew up in Philadelphia, the son of a Jewish shopkeeper whose lack of ambition baffled him. Schwarzman says he inherited "the right gene mix" from his mother, "a very formidable, strong survivor" who understood the power of social connections. She helped get him to Yale, where he joined the exclusive Skull and Bones secret society, and he never looked back. After Harvard Business School, he joined Lehman Brothers where he indulged his latent love of beauty and comfort by lavishly redecorating his office. "I wanted... a cocoon against all the psychological stresses of my work, like a... library in an English house".

From Lehman to Blackstone

Recommended

Great frauds in history: the Independent West Middlesex Fire and Life Assurance Company's early Ponzi scheme
Investment strategy

Great frauds in history: the Independent West Middlesex Fire and Life Assurance Company's early Ponzi scheme

The Independent West Middlesex Fire and Life Assurance Company (IWM) offered annuities and life insurance policies at rates that proved too good to be…
21 Oct 2020
Mukesh Ambani: the Indian billionaire eyeing global expansion
People

Mukesh Ambani: the Indian billionaire eyeing global expansion

Mukesh Ambani is already the richest man in India by a large margin, but his ambitions do not end there. He wants India to be at the front of the worl…
19 Oct 2020
Great frauds in history... John Factor’s penny-stock scams
People

Great frauds in history... John Factor’s penny-stock scams

John Factor sold worthless penny stocks through a boiler room operation, ramping the price via his financial newsletters. But he was never held to ac…
14 Oct 2020
Mohsin and Zuber Issa : garage tycoons who put Asda in their trolley
People

Mohsin and Zuber Issa : garage tycoons who put Asda in their trolley

The supermarket’s new owners are Mohsin and Zuber Issa, two brothers from Blackburn who started with a rundown petrol station 20 years ago. But their …
8 Oct 2020

Most Popular

Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts
Bank accounts

Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts

Negative interest rates are likely to mean the introduction of fees for current accounts and other banking products. But that might make the UK bankin…
19 Oct 2020
UK post-Covid recovery stocks: these 20 companies could be set to rocket
Share tips

UK post-Covid recovery stocks: these 20 companies could be set to rocket

Finding stocks with the potential to rise tenfold or even further is far easier said than done. But the pandemic has produced the most promising backd…
22 Oct 2020
Big spending government is here to stay – just ask Rishi Sunak
UK Economy

Big spending government is here to stay – just ask Rishi Sunak

Governments around the world are splashing huge amounts of cash as they do “whatever it takes” to prop up their economies. John Stepek looks at where …
23 Oct 2020