Greg Smith, a twelve-year bank veteran with Goldman Sachs, publicly quit his job after calling the firm "morally corrupt" 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.
A Goldman Sachs director in London has resigned after publishing a devastating open letter accusing senior staff of being "morally bankrupt" and bent on extracting maximum fees from clients by offloading unsuitable investment products.
Greg Smith, who has left his post as executive director of the firm's equity derivatives business in Europe, claimed that chief executive Lloyd Blankfein and president Gary Cohn have "lost hold of the firm's culture on their watch". He added that "this decline in the firm's moral fibre represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival".
Parodies have immediately popped up, like the letter from Darth Vader on "Why I am leaving the Empire".
For more than a decade I recruited and mentored candidates, some of whom were my secret children, through our gruelling interview process. In 2006 I managed the summer intern program in detecting strange disturbances in the Force for the 80 younglings who made the cut.
I knew it was time to leave when I realised I could no longer speak to these students inside their heads and tell them what a great place this was to work.
How did we get here? The Empire changed the way it thought about leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and killing your former mentor with a light sabre. Today, if you make enough money you will be promoted into a position of influence, even if you have a disturbing lack of faith.
What are three quick ways to become a leader? a) Execute on the firm's 'axes', which is Empire-speak for persuading your clients to invest in 'prime-quality' residential building plots on Alderaan that don't exist and have not existed since we blew it up. b) 'Hunt Elephants'. In English: get your clients - some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren't - to tempt their friends to Cloud City and then betray them. c) Hand over rebel smugglers to an incredibly fat gangster.
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