'Why I Left Goldman Sachs': a viral op-ed expands into a memoir
Goldman Sachs employee Greg Smith's 'Why I Left Goldman Sachs' drew strong response as an op-ed in The New York Times, but is garnering negative reviews as a memoir.
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By all accounts, Smith was a “true believer” who posted Goldman’s 14 “Business Principles” to his wall and “bled GS blue.” He championed the firm’s spirit of teamwork, industriousness, humility, and putting the client first.Skip to next paragraph
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But as time went on, Smith became troubled by what he calls a change in the Goldman culture. Salespeople referred to clients as “muppets,” slang for “idiot,” and were concerned not with clients’ actual needs, but with making money for the firm, sometimes to the detriment of the clients. The culture, he says, became “toxic and destructive” and the bank began “ripping their clients off.”
“The wheel had turned,” Smith writes in his book about Goldman’s evolution following the financial crisis. “The banking world had become a trading world, and that was Lloyd Blankfein’s world. Goldman Sachs was becoming a hedge fund, and as part of the evolution, the bank was getting into new conflicts of interest. This new direction was a significant departure from what Goldman Sachs had become known for.”
For the record, Goldman has denied Smith’s allegations and said its investigations turned up no evidence of Smith’s allegations, including the use of ‘muppet’ in emails.
“The Goldman Sachs Mr. Smith describes is not one our employees would recognize,” a spokesman for the firm told Reuters Sunday. “Mr. Smith has asked for answers, yet he did not respond to our repeated attempts to contact him after his abrupt departure earlier this year.”
Smith, who was making $500,000 a year when he left Goldman and reportedly received $1.5 million for the book deal, has responded by saying he’s not trying to expose Goldman per se, but shine a spotlight on a deepening culture of greed on Wall Street and fuel a public conversation on how to fix it.
“I am in a rush to spread a message and get mainstream people to realize there is a big problem and to be outraged that no one fixed it,” Smith told Reuters. “There is a real absence of people within the financial industry trying to advocate for positive reform. I would like to try to be part of that conversation.”
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.