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Disney’s Investment Chief Departs at a Wild Time

“I would never, ever call myself a sage,” says Lawrence Goldsmith, incoming CIO of wealth manager Mozaic. “But it’s nice to have been through a few crises already.”

Disney’s investment head Lawrence Goldsmith has stepped down to become chief investment officer at Mozaic, a Los Angeles-based wealth manager and multi-family office.

Goldsmith officially takes on the CIO role April 1, but given the current circumstances, he has been on the job remotely for weeks. 

“I need two things to thrive: An environment to improve my craft, and one where I’m needed,” he told Institutional Investor in an interview. “Every place I’ve gone, that’s what I felt. I feel that here at Mozaic. I felt it consulting for Britt Harris at Texas Teachers’, and I felt it at Disney.”

Another former Disney leader Christopher Zyda started the firm in 2007, and it managed about $3 billion at the end of last year. 

The move takes Goldsmith to a much smaller pool of capital. At the entertainment giant, he oversaw about $15 billion in pension assets and $10 billion in defined contribution plans, he said. 

But it’s also a chance to trade administrative and executive management for close portfolio work, and Goldsmith’s career has been unusual in several ways. 

“I’m one of the few people that worked at a corporate pension” — Fluor Corporation, and Toyota Motor Sales before that — then “went to an endowment [University of Texas Investment Management Co.] and went back to a corporate pension. There’s a lot of laundry at a pension fund,” Goldsmith said. 

“Sure, it’s nice to be out on the back reclining on a chaise lounge being fed grapes when you’re at an endowment,” he went on. “I knew full well that I’d be leaving that going to Disney.”

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At Mozaic, he’s taking over an eight-person investment team managing money for largely high-net-worth families and individuals — and at a time that has even professional investors freaked out.  

“I would never, ever call myself a sage. I’m old, but I’m not a sage,” Goldsmith said. “But it’s nice to have been through a few crises already.”

He’s inheriting a stable of existing money managers, many of whom have longstanding relationships with Mozaic. While Goldsmith doesn’t “believe in coming in as the new sheriff in town,” he does anticipate reviewing the roster. “I’m certainly open to thoughtful managers who want to be partners with Mozaic. I don’t know whether it’s responsible or stupid, but I pretty much respond to every email.”

For managers interested in catching Goldsmith’s eye or keeping Mozaic’s business, the new CIO offer one notable tip. 

As investment firms flood the market with COVID-19-related communication, Goldsmith observed, “I haven’t seen many yet that say, ‘We’re willing to spend the next year earning any fees we get off of carry” — or performance fees — “and not take the 1 percent or 2 percent management fee.’ That’s the type of partnership and symbiotic relationship I’m looking for. I’m going to be watching pretty closely.”

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