Donald Mulvihill, Goldman Manager Who Started Funds, Dies at 56

Donald J. Mulvihill, a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. managing director who started the firm’s asset-management business in Japan and created tax-focused funds in the U.S., has died. He was 56.

He died on July 19 at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois, 15 months after being diagnosed with leukemia, according to his wife, the former Jill Kane. A resident of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, he retired from New York-based Goldman Sachs on July 1.

In a 33-year career with Goldman, the fifth-biggest U.S. bank by assets, Mulvihill became a specialist on pension and retirement planning, introducing new investment products in the U.S. and Japan.

“Don will be remembered not only for his commercial contributions, but also for his commitment to our people,” Timothy J. O’Neil and Eric S. Lane, co-heads of Goldman’s Investment Management Division, wrote in a company e-mail on July 19. “Don was known throughout the firm for his kindness and thoughtfulness. He has been, and will continue to be, an inspiration for us all.”

As president of Goldman Sachs Asset Management Japan Ltd. from 1992 to 1997, he dealt first-hand with Japan’s “lost decade” of recessions following the collapse of the nation’s asset bubble in 1990.

In 1995, after “years haggling” with Japan’s finance ministry, he won licenses for Goldman Sachs to operate institutional portfolios and mutual funds under one roof, according to a Forbes magazine article. Within two years, Goldman Japan’s assets under management rose to $10 billion from $1.5 billion, Forbes reported.

Customized Products

In a 1997 Bloomberg News interview in Tokyo, Mulvihill said two keys to the firm’s success in Japan were serving the brokers who distributed funds and customizing funds for Japanese investors.

“I think we’ve been creative in product design,” he said. “We decided early on that Japanese investors would be more likely to buy a fund that invested in foreign assets from a foreign firm such as ourselves, rather than investing in Japanese assets, so the first six funds we offered all invested in foreign markets.”

The Goldman Sachs Da Vinci Fund was among the most successful of the early products, he said.

Mulvihill returned to the U.S. in 1997 and became a managing director, working in the firm’s Chicago and New York offices, his wife said yesterday in an interview.

Defying Convention

As product manager for the bank’s tax-efficient investment unit, he helped introduce funds including, in 2005, the U.S. Equity Dividend and Premium Fund, designed to generate cash for retirees when equities were flat.

“Conventional ways of thinking say that when you turn 65, you have to start loading up on bonds and getting out of the stock market, but entering retirement you still have a very long horizon and you need growth,” Mulvihill said, according to Money Management Executive, a trade publication.

Until 2008, Mulvihill also ran the Goldman Sachs Structured Tax Managed Equity Fund.

His last job was co-chief investment officer of Goldman’s Quantitative Investment Strategies group. He was responsible for Customized Beta Strategies, which tailors investments to a particular client’s appetite for risk.

Donald Joseph Mulvihill Jr. was born on Nov. 19, 1956, and raised in Westchester, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He was the oldest of five children of Donald J. Mulvihill, a high school principal in the Chicago public school system, and the former Therese Buckley.

International Economics

He received a bachelor’s degree in economics and government from the University of Notre Dame in 1978 and an MBA in finance and international economics from the University of Chicago in 1982.

He began his career with Goldman Sachs in 1980 in Chicago, moving to New York in 1985 to manage money-market and fixed-income portfolios and to London in 1991 to work on international investment management, according to a biography prepared by the bank.

Following 18 months in London, he moved to Japan to lead asset management operations.

Survivors include his wife of 27 years; their children, Ruth, 21; Ellen, 20; and Daniel, 18; his sisters, Mary Ellen O’Neill, Kathleen Walsh and Julie Loftus; and his brother, Michael.

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