Wall Street exec's public conscience crisis

A Goldman Sachs vice president, and there are many financial executives with VP titles at Goldman Sachs, published a bitter resignation letter in The New York Times today.

Greg Smith signs off his NYTIMES op/ed piece as a a Goldman Sachs executive director and head of the firm’s United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

But perhaps Smith is a memoirist with a book in the wings. Most anonymous but aspiring authors need a little publicity before landing a book deal. Smith’s op/ed takes the moral high ground and lambasts Goldman Sachs’ unethical employees. Smith suggests the Goldman Sachs house needs the rinse cycle.

Smith was employed at GS for twelve years. He landed an internship there while at Stanford, one of the top schools in the nation. Smith’s letter could be considered sabotage, except Smith no longer works there. Smith snitches on former co-workers who, in internal emails, referred to their clients as “muppets.”

Smith says he’s leaving Goldman Sachs because the company no longer puts clients first and because the company isn’t the same it was when he began working there. Specifically, Smith doesn’t think CEO Lloyd Blankfein operates GS in good conscience. For whatever reason (recession, anyone?) under Blankfein, GS stock has declined 20 percent.

Smith, interestingly, resigns today 14 March 2012. Wall Street bonuses were assigned in December. And, in 2006 the corporate environment changed, according to Smith, but Smith waited around six more years. Smith waited and waded through the recession.

Smith exits Wall Street a 30 something with millions. And a conscience cleansed through a New York Times op/ed piece.

It is a washing of the spears and as such, Smith’s letter isn’t really surprising. Few are surprised at measures Wall Street execs and Wall Street wannabes will do maintain and develop wealth. So much so, the Occupy Movements, like the Tea Party, haven't died down.

Goldman Sachs has gone through it with the SEC. But like Bank of America, fines and penalties haven’t unchartered its course.
Smith’s editorial doesn’t sign off with a detailed plan for his future career. It signs off with the suggestion that Goldman Sachs clients reconsider their investment firm.

Goldman has, since the appearance of Smith’s letter, openly disagreed with Smith. In their emailed response printed at MSNBC, GS said: “We disagree with the views expressed, which we don’t think reflect the way we run our business. In our view, we will only be successful if our clients are successful. This fundamental truth lies at the heart of how we conduct ourselves.”

But Smith’s argument isn’t that Goldman Sachs’ clients are unsuccessful. Smith says that Goldman Sachs only cares how much money their clients earn the firm. But not about much else.