Why He Left Goldman Sachs, and Why They’re Not Worried

 Why He Left Goldman Sachs, and Why Theyre Not Worried

The PR Verdict: “B” (Good Show) to Goldman Sachs.

Breakups are never easy, and today sees the publication of a very long breakup letter. Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story is a memoir written by former Goldman employee Greg Smith. It follows up on Smith’s poison pen editorial of the same name, published in The New York Times in early March 2012. The consensus? Goldman Sachs’ board members can sleep easy.

Greg Smith used to be in equity derivatives sales. In upper management, he earned a more than respectable living of around $500k. Disillusioned by the alleged cynicism and hypocrisy of a culture that did not put clients first (supposedly referring to them as “Muppets”), Smith became more and more disenchanted, so goes his narrative, until one day the moral bankruptcy of the firm caused him to quit.

With Smith receiving a reported $1.5 million book advance for a memoir about his time at the firm, Goldman Sachs was presumably worried. But his former employer is now indicating that Smith’s memoirs are not as damaging as originally expected. Some of his reminiscences may not be pretty, but there’s nothing illegal or that surprising about them. As for Smith’s credibility, it seems GS has had its own well-executed PR plan to raise a cloud over their ex-employee’s widely reported griping.

The PR Verdict: “B” (Good Show) for Goldman Sachs’s softly-softly response in advance of publication.

The PR Takeaway:  Say what you need to say once, and then let others do the talking. In advance of Smith’s book launch, Goldman Sachs made available its 18-page internal report on Smith’s allegations to newswire Bloomberg.  The report reveals that prior to resigning, Smith allegedly wanted a 100 percent pay raise, was denied a promotion, and may not have been long for the firm. The report’s contents were widely repeated – not by GS, but by the media. The nagging doubt is now that Smith may have just been a disgruntled employee. No on the record comment from Goldman Sachs, but a volte face from the very media that covered the story in the first place. Now that’s effective PR.

To read more click here.

What’s your opinion of Greg Smith’s book, and Goldman Sachs’s response? Give us your PR Verdict!

Why Else Would You Work On Wall Street?

nyse 300x225 Why Else Would You Work On Wall Street?

The PR Verdict: “D” for Wall Street and its lack of creativity in generating compelling reasons to work there.

It’s been almost a week since disgruntled Goldman’s employee Greg Smith penned his NYTimes op-ed on his former employer. The fallout continues.  Multiple articles have appeared questioning the future of Wall Street.  Have graduates lost interest in applying?  Are current employees reconsidering career choices as they look at their shrunken bonus checks?

On the other hand, James Gorman CEO of Morgan Stanley told Fortune that when he spoke recently at Wharton Business School there were two overflow rooms of students eager to apply.  He added that only two managing directors, out of a total of 1800, had resigned since shrunken bonuses were paid.

Who to believe?

Whatever the truth, this discussion is ALWAYS about compensation and nothing else.  It’s as if Wall Street’s management is unable to find any other reason to work there.  Stuck in a PR maze, management is unable to articulate compelling alternative incentives apart from financial remuneration.

The PR Verdict: “D” for Wall Street and its lack of creativity in generating compelling reasons to work there.  No wonder the industry’s image is stuck in a negative spiral.

By solely focusing on compensation there is little hope of changing the ongoing conversation.  There are many careers that sing their praises on benefits and values which have nothing to do with compensation. Wall Street’s  HR departments and management committees might want to look to them for some much needed inspiration.

To read the article in Fortune click here. To read about how Wall Street is losing its appeal click here.

What’s your PR verdict on how Wall Street sells itself as a career choice?

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Why I Am STAYING With Goldman Sachs

quit Why I Am STAYING With Goldman Sachs

The PR Verdict: “B” for Goldman for a sensible response.

There was no basket of muffins, let alone an apple waiting on the desk for the newly appointed head of PR at Goldman Sachs, Jake Siewert on his first day yesterday.  Instead he was greeted with a big fat op-ed in the New York Times, written by resigning employee, Greg Smith, provocatively called Why I Am leaving Goldman Sachs.

The article was remarkable for its candor.  Citing an ongoing malaise and dysfunction within the firm, Smith described Goldman as “toxic” with a cultural bias that has Goldman routinely prioritising profits over  clients.   The article has created a huge amount of noise in both mainstream and social media.

Goldman’s defence was simple;  without putting clients first, the business would not exist.  Rather than take him on publicly, an internal staff memo was issued and leaked to the media.  The memo referred to the latest statistics on Goldman employee satisfaction and concluded that it was  aware that it didn’t get everything always right.  In so doing, it took some of the force out of Smith’s more generalised complaints.

The PR Verdict: “B” for Goldman for a sensible reply designed to defuse the situation on day one.  But what might be the best PR answer to counter Smith and show employees and clients that he got it wrong over the next week or so?

If the heat continues and internally there is a perception that the firm has not taken a tough enough stand, how about asking the NYTimes for a right of reply?  Submit an op-ed by a client  or employee called Why I have STAYED with Goldman Sachs answering directly some of the issues raised by Smith.  Even better, make it from someone connected to Smith’s ex-business, equity derivatives.  The power of the cuttings archive is undisputed and without a response, Smith’s op-ed will have the last say.  Goldman’s might want to call on friends for an alternative view.

To read the op-ed click here and to read more about the Goldman memo click here

What’s your verdict on how Goldman have handled this issue:

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