|Goldman Sachs' CEO Lloyd Blankfein|
Goldman Sachs sacrificed fiduciary principles for quick profits:*
The daily dealings at the bank make your skin crawl:It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs’s success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for 143 years. It wasn’t just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organization. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief.
What many of us had suspected goes on all the time. Wall Street is self-destructive but it destroys all but itself:What are three quick ways to become a leader? a) Execute on the firm’s “axes,” which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. b) “Hunt Elephants.” In English: get your clients — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.
Today, many of these leaders display a Goldman Sachs culture quotient of exactly zero percent. I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client’s success or progress was not part of the thought process at all.Smith redefines the banality of post-capitalist blue-collar crime:
It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,” sometimes over internal e-mail. Even after the S.E.C., Fabulous Fab, Abacus, God’s work, Carl Levin, Vampire Squids? No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding. I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.Is Goldman Sachs' culture likely to change soon?
|WHY SHOULD I?|
(Goldman Sachs' rebuttal here)
Check Lloyd Blankfein's perfunctory last paragraph:
As to those of you who were serviced by Mr. Smith, it’s understandable that you would be concerned about who will be taking his place going forward. On that front, I have some exciting news: today, Goldman is pleased to announce that our new executive director and head of the United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa will be Mr. Joseph Kony. For those unfamiliar with Mr. Kony’s resume, let me assure you that he has the character and moral standards you have come to expect from Goldman, and like the rest of us here at the bank, he has dedicated his life to doing the Lord’s work.Whom do you believe?
*As Smith points out in his letter, without this balance, there is no banking industry (something the present culture ignores, as if the money they are dealing with did not belong to real people). Even in the most selfish scenario, a bank should preserve the interests of those they do business with.