The bottom line on business morality, at Goldman Sachs or wherever

Updated on March 14, 2012

The New York Times publishes an extraordinary op-ed today – the text of a resignation letter by 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.

It’s a sobering read that describes a morally-bankrupt organization and may well be definitive on the matter of morality about an entire industry.

Will it help change anything in the financial services industry, especially among institutions like this? Sadly, I don’t believe anything foundational will change as a result. But keeping my wishful-thinking hat on, let me draw the bottom line from Smith’s concluding comments:

“I hope this can be a wake-up call to the board of directors. Make the client the focal point of your business again. Without clients you will not make money. In fact, you will not exist. Weed out the morally bankrupt people, no matter how much money they make for the firm. And get the culture right again, so people want to work here for the right reasons. People who care only about making money will not sustain this firm – or the trust of its clients – for very much longer.”

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Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs
An executive resigns from his position over an integrity problem too big to ignore.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Michael Blowers

    Hi Neville, An interesting story to highlight. I think most will be pretty horrified by this portrayal of life at one of the truly globally significant organisation. Will it make any difference? Doubt it really. They probably ‘know’ enough and are perceived to have saved enough money for their clients to guarantee their survival. In some ways the tragedy is that society has allowed these qualities to be somehow valued above almost all others.

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