Greg Smith's Op-Ed piece in yesterday's NY Times about Goldman Sachs' "toxic culture" was a cowardly act. By tossing a verbal hand grenade on his way out the door, he sullied the reputations of the vast majority of the people at the firm who work and live by the highest possible professional standards every single day.
I left Goldman Sachs in 1993 because I wanted to start my own business. In 1995, I launched Milestone Capital and was delighted to become a GS client. We had an awesome relationship with the trading desks in Fixed Income because even though we were tiny, they wanted to cultivate a long-term relationship with us. Our assets grew to $2.5 billion over the next 5 years and in many ways, we have Goldman to thank for our success.
Greg Smith got his 15 seconds of lame fame which is all it is. If he was a man and not a mouse, he would have taken the high road and become part of the solution - he would have become an agent of change. Instead, he's just a quitter who never gave management an opportunity to respond before he verbally strafed the entire firm in print.
Having worked on the Fixed Income trading floor for 11 years, I know how hard it is to make both sides of the trade happy -- your client wants to buy securities at the lowest price and the trading desk wants to sell them at the highest price. The role of the salesperson is to negotiate the fairest price because as we loved to say, "your word is your bond."
Lastly, the folks I worked with at GS who had the honor to cover Prudential as a client remember how much they taught us about the securities business. Clients are not sheep and they're not stupid. They're also covered by salespeople at other banks so if you don't do right by your clients, someone else will.
Two of my favorite expressions are "talk is cheap" and "actions speak louder than words." The people who work for Goldman Sachs have much to be proud of. And they always will.