Investment banking: Ex-Goldman critic to write book?

Investment banking tell all? Greg Smith, who tendered a scathing resignation letter to investment banking giant Goldman Sachs, is reportedly looking for a book deal.

Richard Drew/AP/File
A trader works in the Goldman Sachs booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange earlier this month. Greg Smith, a Goldman executive director who resigned with a blistering public essay, is reported to be negotiating a book deal in which he would write about the investment banking giant.

Greg Smith, the former Goldman Sachs executive who resigned this month and condemned the investment bank in a scathing New York Times opinion column, is seeking a deal to write a book about his experience there, the newspaper reported.

Smith met with several publishers this week, the newspaper said, citing anonymous sources familiar with the talks.

"According to several people who were present, Mr. Smith described his book as a coming-of-age story, the tale of someone who came into the business with good intentions and sky-high ideals that were ultimately pierced by Goldman's obsessive focus on making money," the Times reported, citing people with knowledge of his conversations with publishers.

Smith, who ran Goldman's U.S. equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, spent nearly 12 years at the investment banking giant. He is proposing to look at Goldman's history and offer a personal perspective on a perceived change in its corporate culture, the Times reported.

The Times said some publishers expressed concern about potential legal issues involving Goldman, and whether readers would be interested in a narrative about derivatives trading.

In a New York Times opinion column published March 14, Smith said Goldman had become a "toxic" place that put its own interests ahead of those of its clients. The bank said in a statement after the piece appeared that it disagreed with Smith, and his views did not reflect its business practices.

Smith wrote in the opinion piece that he saw five Goldman managing directors refer to clients as "muppets," at times over internal email.

Goldman has begun scanning internal email for the term "muppet" and other evidence that employees referred to clients in derogatory ways, Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein told partners in a conference call this week.

Smith's op-ed was highly unusual because Goldman employees shy away from publicly criticizing the bank, both because it breaks the Goldman code of silence and because non-disparagement agreements signed by many employees bar them from speaking negatively about the bank.

The Times said Smith is working with an agent, Paul Fedorko of N.S. Bienstock Inc. The agency did not respond to an e-mail inquiry.

Smith, who has yet to give any media interviews since his resignation, could not be reached for comment. His current whereabouts were unknown.

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