Tarnished trust; Shortsightedness a weakness on Wall Street, beyond.

Position::EDITORIAL - Editorial


A company like Goldman Sachs can seem impenetrable. The financial giant fosters a sense of secrecy, playing its cards close to the vest.

But words on print can pry open the doors. In a New York Times opinion piece this week, a departing executive led us past the security guards and across the polished floors to the inner sanctum of how Goldman Sachs Group Inc. thinks and operates.

As presented by Greg Smith, it's not a pretty picture. In "Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs," the 33-year-old wrote of a "toxic" and "destructive" atmosphere in which respect for clients of the investment bank and securities firm has seriously eroded in recent years.

Mr. Smith worked for the multinational Manhattan-based company for 12 years, arriving fresh from college and at first loving his work. But the firm's current CEO and president, he wrote, "lost hold of the firm's culture on their watch."

He said in Wednesday's piece: "To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money."

To put that in one term: Greed.

Mr. Smith believes - as he courageously and eloquently describes in his essay - that Goldman Sachs has succumbed to the monster of ruthlessness and immediacy in making money. While he does not allege anything illegal has occurred, he feels those at the top sacrificed integrity in their chase of the bottom line.

When American businesses begin to do that, they begin to fall; the bones weaken, even in a 143-year-old Wall Street titan.

The most important investment a bank or any other company can make is in its reputation, and the deposits must be continuous...

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