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'Why I Left Goldman Sachs': a viral op-ed expands into a memoir

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Echoes the Financial Times, “While the 277-page book, ‘Why I Left Goldman Sachs,’ paints an unflattering picture of Goldman in the years before and after the financial crisis, it does not contain any blockbuster discoveries that could lead to trouble for the bank’s top executives.”

In a Wall Street Journal review, Matt Levine, a former vice president in Goldman’s investment banking division, says the memoir lacks specifics and though it presents itself as an expose, “it is really a typical Wall Street memoir, in which the author wistfully recounts his youthful exploits and trading-floor antics before haranguing others not to follow in his footsteps.”

By all accounts, Smith was a “true believer” who posted Goldman’s 14 “Business Principles” to his wall and “bled GS blue.” He championed the firm’s spirit of teamwork, industriousness, humility, and putting the client first.

But as time went on, Smith became troubled by what he calls a change in the Goldman culture. Salespeople referred to clients as “muppets,” slang for “idiot,” and were concerned not with clients’ actual needs, but with making money for the firm, sometimes to the detriment of the clients. The culture, he says, became “toxic and destructive” and the bank began “ripping their clients off.”

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