Many people dream of leaving their job in a blaze of glory. Telling everyone you work with to go fly a kite is a fantasy usually only played out in movies and minimum wage burger shacks. Goldman Sachs Executive Director Greg Smith not only lived out this fantasy, but he did it in the New York Times this morning.
Greg Smith was, until now, an “executive director and head of the firm’s United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa” says the Times. Smith, a 12-year veteran of the firm has witness a change in "the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. “ Which has now become “as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.”
He bemoans the fact that the firm cares more about its bottom line than it does taking care of its clients. Goldman knowingly selling toxic mortgage backed securities to clients during the height of the collapse surely proves this theory.
While overseeing equity derivatives, Smith also oversaw the mentoring program for the firm’s interns and college recruits. It was his job to sell the Goldman way to newly minted “Masters of the Universe” before they were snapped up by the competition across the Street. Of that, Smith says “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.”
Though Smith seems to have taken a lot of pride in his work managing a “total asset base of more than a trillion dollars,” he comes across disillusioned and bitter.
“Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence…trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman.”
He also talks of how “ill” it makes him that people “callously” talk about how they rip clients off and routinely refer to them as muppets.
Here’s the thing about the financial world that I don’t need to be an executive director to understand, that’s the way Wall Street is. There will always be “morally bankrupt” people who violate their fiduciary responsibility to their clients, they eventually always get theirs; Karma is a bitch in that respect.
The terms “ripping eyeballs out” and “getting paid” aren’t Goldman-speak, they are Street-speak. Read the Wolf of Wall Street, spend a day on any trading floor. There will always be a few guys asking “How much money did we make off the client?”
Though going out in a blaze of glory was probably very self-satisfying and will give Greg Smith a lot of exposure, I hope he wisely invested all the millions he made while at Goldman. One thing is for certain, no other Wall Street firm will ever print his name on a business card ever again for fear of him going stoolie on them as well.
Photo Credit: Goldman Sachs Website.