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Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story Hardcover – October 22, 2012
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Goldman Sachs, the “Rolls Royce of investment banks,” has remained in business for more than 140 years, primarily due to a strict set of moral values that revolve around the principle that the “clients’ interests always come first.” These were the principles that were in place when Smith joined the firm as a junior analyst in the early 2000s. He describes entering an extremely competitive environment in which only the upper echelon of the best and the brightest survive, in which confidentiality, honesty, and integrity are fundamental to every business decision, and in which justice can be swift and brutal. A well-liked and promising study, Smith rose quickly through the ranks, witnessing firsthand the immediate effects of the tech bubble, the 9/11 attacks, and the housing meltdown. Through the turmoil, Goldman Sachs remained the one bellwether securities firm that could not be toppled, but inside the firm, the culture was changing. Rather than simply advising and trading for customers, Sachs began to resemble a hedge fund, doing proprietary trading and often taking positions opposite those they recommended to clients, a huge conflict of interest. Ultimately, the climate eroded so badly that only the largest commissions, known as “elephant trades,” became the driving force for everything the company aimed for, as clients’ interests fell completely by the wayside. This finally led to Smith’s famous March 14, 2012, op-ed for the New York Times, titled “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs.” Despite Smith’s pointed criticism of Goldman Sachs, he is otherwise remarkably kind to the company. There is not much mud to sling, but what we find is a personal tale of one person caught up in a wave of greed, betrayal, and a complete disregard for the standards that had made Goldman Sachs the most trusted name on Wall Street. --David Siegfried
A portrait, in Proustian detail, of a world and a mentality that is utterly alien, and should be infuriating, to most of us on Main Street.
-- Mark Gongloff, Huffington Post
A personal tale of one person caught up in a wave of greed, betrayal, and a complete disregard for the standards that had made Goldman Sachs the most trusted name on Wall Street.
-- David Siegfried, Booklist
[Greg Smith] did what we would all hope that our own banker would do: he spoke out publicly about something that was wrong.
-- Hamilton Nolan, Gawker
An insider's take on Goldman Sachs strikes a nerve....it provides a rare inside look into a career path to which many aspire: from nothing to Wall Street affluence. It will also be read because of its characterisation of Goldman's integrity. Where once it profited from helping clients prosper, the bank shifted, Mr Smith contends, into an entity that profited from clients.
-- The Economist
...Smith has written a field guide to the culture of Goldman Sachs and a fly-on-the-wall account of Wall Street on the skids.
The author's personal account of the many facets of daily life at Goldman Sachs gives his memoir the power of persuasion and conviction.
Top customer reviews
My only complaint about the book is that it does not go far enough. Some of the anecdotal stories that Greg recounts regarding ridiculous behavior on the parts of the managers and partners are really standard practice in Wall Street. Anyone working in the financial services will quickly learn that there is an abundance of a holes and irresponsible behavior is often rewarded well. Also, the main point of the book that clients are viewed as the enemy is again standard practice in the street. This was more so the case before 2008 but even nowadays there have not been a lot of changes. In many cases the hedge fund stars are the salespeople who bring in all the money and not the guy that manages the portfolios. I would have liked to see a bit more of the irresponsible behavior in the book and am not sure why Greg did not go all the way. A good reason for this might be because as I mentioned above there is no trail for these types of shenanigans....you really have to be there to see it and believe it.
Finally I was surprised at all the negative press that this book got which really supports the author's thesis. I saw Greg in an interview with Maria Bartiromo and she just wouldn't shut up about why the author stayed at GS for 11+ years and then wrote this book. It's a valid question but that's really all she focused on. I can say from personal experience that you really need a good 5-6 years to really understand what really is going on in terms of how things work in a big firm like GS and in Wall Street. And it might be that he postponed it a bit for personal reasons (US papers maybe?) or other reasons. Whatever the reason is the fact that there is gross disrespect for clients in Wall Street remains true. What's really disturbing is that it's common practice and yet you don't hear many if any people point it out.
So easy to understand for a stock market ignorant person.
I am so PROUD that Greg did the right thing and followed his gut feeling against all odds.
Very proud as he is a South African!!
Wonderful enthralling read.
From a fellow South African