On March 14, 2012, more than three million people read Greg Smith's bombshell op-ed in the New York Times titled Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs. The column immediately went viral, became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter, and drew passionate responses from former Fed chairman Paul Volcker, legendary General Electric CEO Jack Welch, and New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg. Mostly, though, it hit a nerve among the general public who question the role of Wall Street in society - and the callous "take-the-money-and-run" mentality that brought the world economy to its knees a few short years ago. Smith now picks up where his op-ed left off.
His story begins in the summer of 2000, when an idealistic 21-year-old arrives as an intern at Goldman Sachs and learns about the firm's Business Principle Number One: Our clients' interests always come first. This remains Smith's mantra as he rises from intern to analyst to sales trader, with clients controlling assets of more than a trillion dollars.
From the shenanigans of his summer internship during the technology bubble to Las Vegas hot tubs and the excesses of the real estate boom; from the career lifeline he received from an NFL Hall of Famer during the bear market to the day Warren Buffett came to save Goldman Sachs from extinction - Smith will take the reader on his personal journey through the firm, and bring us inside the world's most powerful bank.
Smith describes in page-turning detail how the most storied investment bank on Wall Street went from taking iconic companies like Ford, Sears, and Microsoft public to becoming a "vampire squid" that referred to its clients as "muppets" and paid the government a record half-billion dollars to settle SEC charges. He shows the evolution of Wall Street into an industry riddled with conflicts of interest and a profit-at-all-costs mentality: a perfectly rigged game at the expense of the economy and the society at large.
After conversations with nine Goldman Sachs partners over a twelve-month period proved fruitless, Smith came to believe that the only way the system would ever change was for an insider to finally speak out publicly. He walked away from his career and took matters into his own hands. This is his story.
©2012 Greg Smith (P)2012 Hachette Audio
Not a chance
He has a very annoying accent but I guess that is not his fault.
It is an interesting story and all points of view are valid- he is a credible insider to a world that is unfairly reviled by mainstream society.
I am not an investment banker, but I do know some, have worked with some and considered becoming one when I left Oxford. Let us be under no illusions, investment banking is not exactly a client focussed game, nor does it give a lot back to society but it is far from the evil that society (especially Brits) seem to suggest these days.
Greg Smith is obviously very smart, probably credible and he has definitely been close to the centre of one the greatest/ largest investment bank in the world during some pretty major events. However, boy does this guy love himself. Some of the quotes and passages are just cringe worthy- apparently he never put a foot wrong, or if he did it was only once and he learnt from his mistakes. He was the 'go to guy' for just about everything and the greats within the bank showed him enormous respect. I'm just not sure I believe all of that. He just doesn't come across as very likeable.
Not coming across as very likeable would be fine if the book were a well written, well argued insight into the real workings of Goldman Sachs. Sadly, it isn't. The book is basically a life story, rarely exciting, occasionally interesting but mostly just one low level guy's story of working in an investment bank. Most of the book seems to state the obvious- would you have guessed that the recruitment process is tough and stressful for a job that pays 250k a year to 22 year olds or that once you get said job you would be expected to work long hours or pass exams first time?
This book could have been so much more, an academic, well reasoned argument about why Goldman Sachs is bad/ evil/ changed from good to bad. What you get is mostly a whinge from a low level guy who didn't make it. He is clearly in love with the bank and fell out of love when it didn't give him exactly what he wanted.
He maybe right- I just don't know but after sitting through 10 hours of the book, I'm not sure I care. Greg may have a wonderful future ahead of him, he may even be a great guy but he certainly doesn't have a future in writing.
I am a financial crisis junkie and have listened to most of Audible's offerings on the topic. Simply put - those who do not know history are destined to relive it. Matters of finance are so complex that it is difficult for most to grasp what happened. For that reason, it still goes on. We cannot stop what we do not understand.
Tell us about yourself!
I admire Greg Smith's thoughtful account into the people and culture of Goldman Sachs and the broader “Wall Street” world -- you can tell that he is intelligent, hard working and most importantly has a strong moral compass. From a trader’s viewpoint, he has a unique perspective of the markets, futures & derivatives, and how one of the most prestigious firms survived and even thrived in the midst of a potential financial meltdown not seen since the Great Depression. It’s hard not to admire Greg’s courage to tell this story and follow the choices he made. Lesser people would not have done the same.
You can tell that Greg remains a “culture carrier” and remains respectful of the many brilliant and dynamic people he worked with during his career with the firm. There is no bitterness, and he is not naïve -- greed and conflicts of interest occur everywhere. It’s a good read and I recommend it to anyone who wants a better understanding of what is happening with our economy as the “smartest” people in one sector influence so much of our lives.
The GS manager who asked the female who was crying because a co-worker had been fired, "what did you major in at Villanova, emotionalism?" Typical
Any time he talked about what was said over the Hoot'n Holler.
In an industry where 70% of portfolio and hedge fund managers underperform the market in a good year, where failing bankers get million dollar bonuses, where we get a constant barage of BS artists posing as convincing prognosticators on CNBC every day, can anyone be surprised that Goldman Sachs looks after themselves before customers? Nothing new here, but a fun read nonetheless. This is why Warren Buffet tells recent college grads seeking jobs "to hold your noses and head to Wall Street".
A true wake up call. This industry needs serious reform.
Greg does an amazing job of describing what the big investment firms are all about. There is such a serious conflict of interest but their lobbyist are so strong that you wonder if the "boys club" can be taken down.
Corruption in the financial industry
It tells an interesting story, sheds light on a big problem in our society, and inspires you to be a better person.
The fact that the narrative spans an interesting decade and does a good job painting a picture of all the noteworthy events and changes.
Although it has some interesting stuff, it raised some questions as well. The author was refused a promotion before he resigned, which puts his moral concerns about the business in a different light. In order to prevent the elites from getting richer and the poor getting poorer, he suggests more regulation of the financial markets by the powers that be/elites.
That should make you stop and think. According to him, to get rid of too big to fail institutions, we need congress (those people that can not control their spending and borrow from their printing presses) control and regulate the financials. He also seem to have some hope that 115 regulatory bodies of the financial markets is not enough and 116 is going to make a difference. You can read the book about Madoff (Harry Markopolis) to see why regulation does not work (revolving door). The only thing that works is taking the way the gun on the head of the tax slave. Without the ability to dump losses on the tax slaves through the government power structure,
Given he asks for more power for the few, to fight the problems of too much power for the few, I rate this book as a solicitation for a job as a regulator, to become part of the few and stick it to GS, who passed him over for promotion. He also must have smelled that there exists a market for railing against the big banks.
Bringing something to the listener that was not so predictable. Also the author is speaking from a relatively low level point of view. If every low to mid level employee was aloud to write a book.....
No, I just think that I need to read reviews before making a purchase.
Nothing that was not said in his 1500 word op-ed.
Do not waste your money.
Lots of personal detail. It is a good story though I might have hired a reader.
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