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Carlyle CEO Harvey Schwartz says his father had "extreme schizophrenia"

It's not always the case that you need a privileged background to get ahead in financial services. Harvey Schwartz, CEO of private equity firm Carlyle and former CEO-candidate at Goldman Sachs, is a conspicuous exception to the rule. In a panel at the Global Alts 2024 conference last week, Schwartz discussed his "unusual" childhood and road to finance.

"Both my parents suffered severe mental illness" Schwartz said. "My mother suffered bipolar disorder and my father suffered extreme schizophrenia."  He says that, despite medical advances, there's still a "really significant" stigma surrounding these conditions. He's taken a seat on the board of mental health and brain research nonprofit One Mind to change this. You can access support resources for schizophrenia from its site here, and resources for bipolar disorder here. 

Instead of pursuing finance internships at college, Schwartz instead took a number of more working-class jobs. He says he was "mostly a bouncer" but also had stints as a construction worker and a butcher. 

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Schwartz did have people in his corner, though. While working as a personal trainer, a client named Linda pushed him to apply for university and, after he was initially rejected, hassled them into giving him an interview. The rest, including a multi-decade career in banking culminating with an executive role at Goldman Sachs, is history.

The challenges haven't ended for Schwartz, however. As Carlyle struggles to increase profitability amidst challenging macro and geopolitical conditions, he told the panel that recent years have been "the most complex times for me, personally, in my 35 years of doing this."

Carlyle has discussed making cuts, to personnel and costs. Today's fourth quarter and full year results for the firm show that expenses fell nearly 25% last year. However, this was almost entirely due to a 60% drop in carried interest payments.

Schwartz says he wants to "provide everyone at the firm with the greatest possible opportunity to achieve their dreams," and has increased pay at Carlyle to reflect that. 

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AUTHORAlex McMurray Editor

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