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纽约时报:我为什么离开高盛——高盛前执行董事格雷格·史密斯  

2012-03-17 23:45:44|  分类: Finance |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs
By GREG SMITH
Published: March 14, 2012

TODAY is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.

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Victor Kerlow

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. Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.

It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs’s success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for 143 years. It wasn’t just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organization. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief.

But this was not always the case. For more than a decade I recruited and mentored candidates through our grueling interview process. I was selected as one of 10 people (out of a firm of more than 30,000) to appear on our recruiting video, which is played on every college campus we visit around the world. In 2006 I managed the summer intern program in sales and trading in New York for the 80 college students who made the cut, out of the thousands who applied.

I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.

When the history books are written about Goldman Sachs, they may reflect that the current chief executive officer, Lloyd C. Blankfein, and the president, Gary D. Cohn, lost hold of the firm’s culture on their watch. I truly believe that this decline in the firm’s moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival.

Over the course of my career I have had the privilege of advising two of the largest hedge funds on the planet, five of the largest asset managers in the United States, and three of the most prominent sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East and Asia. My clients have a total asset base of more than a trillion dollars. I have always taken a lot of pride in advising my clients to do what I believe is right for them, even if it means less money for the firm. This view is becoming increasingly unpopular at Goldman Sachs. Another sign that it was time to leave.

How did we get here? The firm changed the way it thought about leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence.

What are three quick ways to become a leader? a) Execute on the firm’s “axes,” which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. b) “Hunt Elephants.” In English: get your clients — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.

Greg Smith is resigning today as a Goldman Sachs executive director and head of the firm’s United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

(Page 2 of 2)

Today, many of these leaders display a Goldman Sachs culture quotient of exactly zero percent. I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client’s success or progress was not part of the thought process at all.

Readers’ Comments

Readers shared their thoughts on this article.

It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,” sometimes over internal e-mail. Even after the S.E.C., Fabulous Fab, Abacus, God’s work, Carl Levin, Vampire Squids? No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding. I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.

It astounds me how little senior management gets a basic truth: If clients don’t trust you they will eventually stop doing business with you. It doesn’t matter how smart you are.

These days, the most common question I get from junior analysts about derivatives is, “How much money did we make off the client?” It bothers me every time I hear it, because it is a clear reflection of what they are observing from their leaders about the way they should behave. Now project 10 years into the future: You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the junior analyst sitting quietly in the corner of the room hearing about “muppets,” “ripping eyeballs out” and “getting paid” doesn’t exactly turn into a model citizen.

When I was a first-year analyst I didn’t know where the bathroom was, or how to tie my shoelaces. I was taught to be concerned with learning the ropes, finding out what a derivative was, understanding finance, getting to know our clients and what motivated them, learning how they defined success and what we could do to help them get there.

My proudest moments in life — getting a full scholarship to go from South Africa to Stanford University, being selected as a Rhodes Scholar national finalist, winning a bronze medal for table tennis at the Maccabiah Games in Israel, known as the Jewish Olympics — have all come through hard work, with no shortcuts. Goldman Sachs today has become too much about shortcuts and not enough about achievement. It just doesn’t feel right to me anymore.

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.

Greg Smith is resigning today as a Goldman Sachs executive director and head of the firm’s United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

 

“迪拜泡沫、希腊混乱、欧元危机……谁是这一连串事件的真正操控者?高盛!”近期,不断有学者、经济专家抛出“高盛阴谋论”,指责这一全世界历史最悠久、最有权势的投资银行,是真正的“影子帝国”,称其在每一次经济大萧条中对美国之外的国家进行狙击,“就像在全球 整个经济版图上的一只饿鹰,不放过任何一个捕捉利润的机会。”

  但所有这些推测,似乎没有什么佐证。直到3月14日,高盛前执行董事格雷格·史密斯(Greg Smith)一篇“我为什么离开高盛”的公开信,直入主题,命中目标。

  前高管痛斥高盛道德沦丧

  “今天是我在高盛的最后一天。我在高盛工作了12年,最初在斯坦福读书时夏季来做实习生……我想我在这里工作了足够长时间,能够理解其文化发展轨迹,理解其员工和身份。说实话,现在的环境是我见过的最有毒和最破坏性的。”

  说这话的是高盛前执行董事史密斯,曾为全球两大对冲基金、美国五大资产经理以及中东和亚洲的三个最具影响力的主权财富基金担任过咨询顾问。他的客户拥有的总资产基础超过了1万亿美元。

  通过《纽约时报》,史密斯把“客户利益”和“高盛利益”这一难以调和的永恒矛盾摆上了台面。

  “高盛原来的文化已经不复存在。我出席衍生品销售会议,会上没有花哪怕一分钟时间来讨论如何帮助客户,而仅仅讨论我们如何能够从客户身上赚取最多的利润。”史密斯表示。

  “现在,如果你能为高盛赚到足够的钱,你就能够得到升职,更具影响力。”而能够迅速在高盛当上领导的法门之一,就是挥动公司的“斧子”,这是高盛内部的说法,“指的是劝说自己的顾客投资股票或者其他我们自己极力避免购买的产品,因为它们看起来不可能有很高的利润。”

  而对高盛的客户们具有杀伤力的说法还有,史密斯曝料:高盛明知投资不可靠或不符合客户需求,却依然将它推荐给客户,“在过去十二个月里,我见过5名主管将他们的客户称作"提线木偶",有时也会在内部邮件中这么说。吸血鬼?不人道?就是这样。诚信?早就腐烂了。”

  史密斯的这封辞职信重创了高盛银行。仅一天时间,高盛股价下跌3.35%,市值瞬间蒸发21.5亿美元。

  总裁救场未止股价大跌

  史密斯的公开叫板在《纽约时报》第27版亮相的几个小时之后,高盛就在网站做出了强硬的回应。

  “在高盛这种规模的公司,难免会有某些人心存不满。”高盛现任执行总裁贝兰克凡和总裁柯恩在给全体员工的信中反驳称,史密斯的一己之见并没有反映出高盛真正的文化,没有真实反映高盛如何对待客户的。高盛称,史密斯的职务是副总裁,而高盛有近12000名副总裁。

  高盛在公开信中表示,89%的员工认为高盛为客户提供了卓越的服务,“无论在过去、金融危机时期还是现在,高盛对客户长期利益的承诺和为客户提供的服务让我们在这个行业中脱颖而出。”

  再度引发市场道德忧虑

  史密斯不是第一个批评高盛为自身利益而牺牲客户利益的人,但他是第一位从高盛内部发难的批评者。

  内部人站出来批评高盛“唯利是图”,一时间成为关注焦点,也再次引发了人们对西方金融体系道德的批评。

  一时间,对于事件真相的各种揣测流传开来。

  华尔街日报表示,奖金收入可能是史密斯与高盛产生摩擦的一个因素。高盛目前已削减大量副总的薪水,减薪主要针对公司派发大量奖金的那些人,史密斯必然受到影响。

  有投行人士力挺高盛:“史密斯叫板高盛的背后,不排除笼络市场投资人的动机,对他来说,只要拿到资金,甚至可以马上做自己的私募基金。”

  也有投资人站在史密斯这一方,“感谢格雷格能说出这些。从2006年开始,我就成为高盛的客户,但近年来一直想把钱拿回来未果。”一名来自英国伯明翰的投资人在史密斯专栏文章的评论中发言支持他,受到了超过1000名网友的推荐。

  “我的资金被配置在权益基金,收益一直落后于市场上同类投资,但高盛一直在赚我的管理费,因为这些投资存在8年至10年的期限,所以现在我还不能拿回钱,除非我愿意承担巨大的"割肉"损失。”这名投资者说。本报记者 窦红梅

  延伸阅读

  “一旦你登上他的战车,就再也没有回头路了”

  当史密斯在《纽约时报》上发表《我为什么离开高盛》之前,高盛所致力于包装的形象是一个竭诚为投资者考虑的专业金融公司。“人们想象着高盛的银行家成天忙着给闭门不出的老人递送鲜花,并为流浪猫提供庇护所,想象着他们为客户提供服务是至关重要的。”一位评论者用略带讽刺的笔触在《纽约时报》文后留言,“但现在我们知道,高盛一切只是为了赚钱。”

  作为世界上规模最大的投行之一,高盛自金融危机以来备受质疑。

  2010年4月,高盛遭遇“欺诈门”,美国证交会指控其在出售一款债务抵押证券时没向投资者披露关键信息,使投资者遭受10亿美元损失。这场官司最终以高盛被罚款5.5亿美元告终,但其并未认罪。去年4月,美国参议院调查委员会曾公布了一份金融危机调查报告,指责高盛误导客户、操纵市场。

  高盛历来受人艳羡的是其集团作战能力。“直投、融资、上市、交易,一个都不少。只是,一旦你登上了高盛的战车,就没有任何回头路了。”一位国内投行部人士说,“别人是抢生意,高盛是早就把生意做到"婴儿阶段"了。”

  与在世界其他地区一样,高盛在中国市场同样担当着首选金融顾问的角色。近年来,高盛作为金融顾问多次参与在中国的重大并购案,如日产向东风汽车投资10亿美元;汇丰银行收购中国交通银行20%股权;联想收购IBM个人电脑部;中国石油收购哈萨克斯坦石油公司以及中海油收购在尼日利亚的石油资产等等。

  高盛旗下中外合资券商“高盛高华”的获准设立,不仅让高盛取得了一家中国投行的管理和财务控制权,而且一举奠定了高盛在中国境内大型投行项目的主导地位平安保险、中兴通讯、交通银行、中国石油、中国银行、中海油海外上市等具有全球影响的IPO融资项目被悉数收入高盛囊中。

  “珍爱生命,远离高盛”,经济学家郎咸平曾公开发表文章说:“高盛惯用的两个手法,一是所谓的信息披露或者制造概念,另一个是所谓的影子操纵,扶植一些傀儡帮它来做事情,它在幕后"垂帘听政"。”而更有媒体披露,高盛在连发两份关于看好国内某上市公司的报告后,待股价抬高后却立马巨量减持。

  昨天,中国人民大学教授赵锡军告诉记者,事件的真相只有期待监管层去调查,而这一事件带给中国金融业的启示或许在于:即使是国际一流大投行,也不要希望道德能凌驾于商业利益之上,必须建立监管机制,如果投资人受到重大损失,应该要有相应的责任追究机制。

  借用史密斯文中的一句话:“高盛的高层领导竟然忽略了最基本的一点:如果客户不信任你,他们最终不会选择跟你做生意,无论你有多么聪明。”

  本报记者 窦红梅 (来源:北京日报)

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