Former Executive – Goldman Sachs – Toxic and Destructive Environment!!

Dear Commons Community,

A former Goldman Sachs executive resigned his position because the corporate culture was greed was good and the environment “is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it”.  In an op-ed piece/letter to the editor of the New York Times, Greg Smith, a Goldman Sachs executive director and head of the firm’s United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, slams his former company for abandoning the interests of its clients.   He comments:

“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. “

This is sad commentary from an individual who obviously loved what he did in a company that stood for his values and interests.  I am afraid to say that similar letters can be written by individuals in many other firms.  We should not  assume that all corporate America operates in a similar vein but after the betrayal of so many companies in 2008, the finance industry needs to do a lot of public relations and good will to erase doubts.