Financial Expertise Informed by Faith: Jonathan Hernandez of Goldman Sachs

Jonathan Hernandez’s faith guides his decisions as part of Goldman Sachs’s legal team and as a leader in his community

Jonathon Hernandez Goldman Sachs
Jonathan Hernandez, VP, Associate General Counsel, Goldman Sachs (Photo by Roger Peters)

Jonathan Hernandez’s father put him to work early. As pastor of a small Baptist church in northern Texas, he had Hernandez do everything from taking out the garbage to putting together the church bulletin.

Learning a healthy work ethic from an early age instilled in Hernandez a can-do spirit that he has carried with him throughout his career. After earning a master’s degree in accounting from the University of Texas at Austin, Hernandez went on to pursue a JD at the University of Houston Law Center. Following law school, Hernandez worked at Squire Patton Boggs for nearly ten years, where he advised clients on business transactions, including commercial lending transactions and mergers and acquisitions, before joining Goldman Sachs in 2017 as vice president and associate general counsel. In his role at Goldman Sachs, he primarily advises the company’s private wealth management lending group and has even had a hand in working on new products, such as Goldman Sachs Private Bank Select (GS Select).

Today, he reflects back on his family’s influence, his faith, and how he’s helping to develop the next generation of Hispanic leaders at Goldman Sachs.

How have your parents influenced you?

My father has been a pastor for more than fifty years. For the past thirty-eight, he has been at Primera Iglesia Bautista in Arlington, Texas, which has a two-hundred-member, bilingual congregation, which my family is a part of. Both of my parents have dedicated their lives to the church and to raising me and my two sisters. They showed us the importance of selflessness and helping others, which comes through their faith.

How do you apply those lessons in your life?

My wife, Leslee, and I are very involved with our church. We regularly meet with and help counsel a group of college students, and I teach Sunday school. We also support local ministries, such as Mission Arlington and Orphan Outreach. And we host Bible study in our home at least once a month. It is important to us that we pass along the importance of faith to our three children.

Has faith played a role in your professional life, too?

It would be hard to think of a time when it didn’t play a role. After getting a master’s in accounting from the University of Texas and a JD from the University of Houston, I spent almost ten years as an associate at Squire Patton Boggs in Dallas. When I decided to go in-house, I knew it was going to be a big change, so I prayed about it and discussed it with my family to ensure I had their support before making the move.

That move, in 2017, was to Goldman Sachs, where you remain today as vice president and associate general counsel. What are your primary responsibilities?

I work in the private wealth management division of Goldman Sachs. At the law firm, I represented financial institutions and other business entities in lending transactions and mergers and acquisitions. I still focus on loans, but instead of spending most of my time drafting documents, I work with our lending, credit, and underwriting departments to provide a good lending experience to our clients.

Have your collaborations led to any new products or services?

Yes. We helped develop a new lending platform called GS Select that expands our loan program to customers of other wealth management and brokerage firms. Launched in mid-2017, the program makes loans of $75,000–$25 million available using the borrower’s investment portfolio as collateral.

We have added multiple brokerage firms to GS Select. In fact, I helped draft the documentation needed to get these brokerage firms onto the platform. Onboarding brokerage firms to GS Select typically requires lengthy meetings with multiple stakeholders on both sides to make sure we are all on the same page.

In addition to GS Select, what else do you spend time on?

About 60 percent of my time is spent on GS Select—on improving it and bringing in new partners. I am also responsible for reviewing our documents and practices to ensure we are complying with all laws and financial regulations and keeping the company protected.

In addition, I am a coach in Goldman Sachs’s Hispanic/Latino Analyst Initiative. I meet regularly with two Hispanic analysts who work in the legal department. I am there to provide them with guidance, answer questions, and help them develop skills to better navigate the company and the business world in general.

Do you have any specific suggestions for the people you mentor or anyone seeking professional advice?

I’d say two things. One, no matter what your task is, make sure you’re doing it to the best of your ability. You never know where your work will end up or who will see it.

Two, get to know as many people as you can. Network, and be helpful. A lot of being happy in the workplace comes down to working with people who are your friends and who care about you. Friends and colleagues can also help with future work opportunities. My job here is a good example. A colleague I worked with earlier in my career had Goldman Sachs as a client, and he mentioned my name to some of the people here, which definitely helped me get my foot in the door.