Goldman Sachs’ Greg Smith piece in the New York Times is almost like an NFL football player quitting because he’s decided he doesn’t want to get paid anymore to hit/hurt people. Greg Smith cites the toxic nature and not caring as much about clients as reasons he’s leaving Goldman Sachs, but I’m wondering if those aren’t just part of the game on Wall Street and not specific to Goldman Sachs.
It’s the nature of the beast. It’s the nature of the money machine. Goldman just does it better than anyone else. And that’s the reason Rolling Stone called referred to them as “a vampire squid wrapped round the face of humanity”. Has Goldman really changed all that much since Greg started working their? Still though, you have to give Greg Smith some credit, this is a gutsy thing to write considering all the attention he’s going to get in the coming days. Who knows what the behind the scenes CIA like Goldman secret agents have planned.
Today is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.
To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.
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.
Read the full Op-Ed at the NY Times.