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Goldman adding data scientists, marketers in consumer lending push

The Goldman Sachs logo is displayed on a post above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, September 11, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files

By Olivia Oran

(Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) is looking to hire engineers, data scientists, operations staff, and customer service professionals as it builds up its online lending business, according to people contacted by the bank and online job postings.

The most powerful bank on Wall Street has made a series of key hires as it muscles into the consumer lending business, where it hopes to use technology to compete against traditional lenders and startups.

Those hires include former Citigroup Inc (C.N) credit card executive David Stark, who will serve as the business's chief risk officer, according to Stark's LinkedIn profile. It has also taken in former Lending Club Corp (LC.N) operations executive Darin Cline to lead operations, as well as employees from American Express Co, (AXP.N) according to their LinkedIn profiles.

Other hires include Dustin Cohn, who will head up branding for the new unit. Cohn was the former marketing officer at underwear and sleepwear company Jockey International, and he also helped develop brand campaigns for Gatorade and Pizza Hut at PepsiCo. (PEP.N) Goldman has also hired Boe Hartman, a former executive at Barclays PLC's (BARC.L) Barclaycard division.

Goldman in May said it had hired the head of Discover Financial Services' (DFS.N) U.S. cards division Harit Talwar to lead its new online lending effort, which will be focused on making unsecured loans both to consumers and to small and medium businesses using deposits. The unit will lend out money from Goldman's banking unit, rather than lending money from individual investors the way Lending Club does, and is expected to launch sometimes in 2016.

The investment bank's effort to build a lending business is the latest example of how Wall Street stalwarts like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley (MS.N) are reinventing themselves after the financial crisis in an effort to make themselves safer.

Morgan Stanley has been building up its retail brokerage business, which generates more stable revenue than trading operations. Goldman's efforts so far have been more modest, but it has agreed to buy General Electric Capital's U.S. online deposit platform and is building its online lending business. Deposits can offer stable funding in times of crisis. Lending Club and Citi declined to comment on departures.

Goldman has reached out to engineers and data scientists for the team, according to people contacted by the firm who could not give more detail because they were required to sign non-disclosure agreements before they were allowed to interview at Goldman.

The bank is also looking to hire for operations and customer service positions in Salt Lake City, its second largest U.S. office outside its 200 West Street headquarters in New York, according to job listings on LinkedIn.

The online lending group will initially be built up within Goldman's merchant banking division, although its formal organizational structure has not yet been finalized.

A spokesman for Goldman declined to comment on the bank's consumer lending strategy.

(Reporting by Olivia Oran; Additional reporting by Michael Erman in New York; Editing by Dan Wilchins and Frances Kerry)