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I love this so much. Big investment firm with little or no integrity who wants to make oodles of money to the exclusion of all else? You do surprise me.

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.

But this was not always the case. 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.

When the history books are written about Goldman Sachs, they may reflect that the current chief executive officer, Lloyd C. Blankfein, and the president, Gary D. Cohn, lost hold of the firm’s culture on their watch. I truly believe that this decline in the firm’s moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival.

Whatshisface could have been talking about every single investment firm/bank out there. That’s the way money-hungry organisations behave. This really isn’t unusual folks.

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4 Comments »

  • the outright greed and moral decay is getting more and more prevalent, but the fact that men & women like this do still exist is nice to know. I admire his courage to stand up and speak his mind instead of just sucking it up or quietly fading into the background.

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  • Skeptic that I am, I’m going to play devil’s advocate.

    Nothing revealed should shock anyone who’s ever dealt with any kind of financial institution. You know they’re in business to make money off of you any way they can and still stay within the grey area of the law. It’s just never been put out in the open. That’s why I have little loyalty to them. I’ll move my investments in a heartbeat if I think another firm will do a better job of handling my money (which usually means charge me fewer or less in fees).

    Also, after twelve years, it doesn’t look like Greg Smith got very high up the ladder at Goldman Sachs. He was only an executive director. However, I’m sure he made money hand-over-fist in the last twelve years and is ready for a cushy retirement because he knows he won’t ever work in this industry again; no firm would risk him pulling the same thing on them that he did on Goldman Sachs.

    Or he could be planning to leverage the publicity to start his own investment firm.

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  • eggs
    March 17
    8:17 am

    Or maybe he’s got enough insider information to know that the entire western financial industry is about to go down the shitter and there’ll be no financial sector jobs for anyone for the next 10 years. I wonder if he’s spent his money on a Caribbean hideaway and a case of ammo!

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  • @eggs, nah, I don’t see the Chinese allowing its biggest customer base to go belly-up…but maybe I should stop by Wal-Mart after yoga today.

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