Not every Wall st banker excels in greed. In fact some of them find themselves wanting out and how. But then again Greg Smith a veteran of the heady Wall st firm managed to hang on for 12 years (this author managed to hold on for 10 years before giving away his career as a derivatives trader for a European hedge fund ) before deciding that he could no longer find it within himself to remain being the morally bankrupt individual that he somehow found himself to be. Or perhaps to be succinct, an individual with pure intentions (as he tells us) who suddenly realized that the outlet he worked for was anything but…
nytimes: 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.
Could this be possible? A banker with a moral crises? A Goldman Sachs banker to boot. But since when did bankers come out publicly and disclose that their employers are effectively scumbags?
And Mr Smith continues:
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.
Hmm, and what does the banking industry stand for? If it can short cut the best interests of its clients, what’s to say they will short cut the best interests of the public who it portends to serve? Then again that’s what the Occupy Wall street protests were for. A pity though none of them Goldman Sachs bankers were allowed at the time to join the fray and give their side of the picture, well at least until this morning…
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.
No longer have the pride, the conviction, the cahootas to boast that you are a master of the universe and a virtual slave trader? What has changed so much to make idealistic men like Mr Smith re evaluate their standing in the world?
For more than a decade I recruited and mentored candidates through our grueling interview process. I was selected as one of 10 people (out of a firm of more than 30,000) to appear on our recruiting video, which is played on every college campus we visit around the world. In 2006 I managed the summer intern program in sales and trading in New York for the 80 college students who made the cut, out of the thousands who applied.
I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.
Goldman Sachs no longer a great place to work? Well except for those without moral codes or a shred of integrity, but there ought to be plenty of fish in the ocean who must be dying to be paid off and do the dirty work? Someone after all has to do the dirty work right? Maybe you the reader?
From there Mr Smith assigns the blame for the firm’s downfall to its current CEO, Lloyd Blankfein who in his opinion lacks moral direction and is essentially an opportunist. From there Mr Smith fondly recounts his days where he was able to do an honest days worth of work amongst some of the brightest until he eventually realized how tarnished things were now becoming and the horrible realization that no one cares about you or your vision unless you prove you can make lots of money, for it is these type of people Goldman Sachs ultimately values (does that mean Mr Smith stopped being a money maker man somewhere along the line?). Well he does offer us a clue:
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.
And from there Mr Smith goes on to bemoan how ill all his fellow soon to be ex employees make him and how corrupt the culture at hand is and how terrible it has all become that now everyone is forced to slaughter each other behind their back to make a quarter of a cent off a jumbo derivatives deal or whatever you can dupe other less intelligent/savvy people with.
Mr Smith then bemoans to us his wonderful qualities and achievements and for one moment one is indeed tempted to cry there in the bathroom stall with him until they realize after 12 years Mr Smith will be most likely retiring with a motza of money off the back of the clients and people he once proudly served, but at least he’s still idealistic to believe that management will one day revert to the good old days where morals, sunny side high fives and integrity were the name of the game. Hardly Mr Smith, but I still applaud your attempt to come clean about an industry that robs even the best of us who are so damn good at robbing the rest of the world.