When it emerged last week that a certain Greg Smith was leaving Goldman Sachs, place of lift fame, it was as though the internet exploded. The article at length caused a stir: man is unhappy, man thinks corporation has changed to the point where it is unrecognisable, calls it toxic and leaves with a loud bang:
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. 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. [...] 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.
Now I know lots of parodies have appeared, responses were posted (including from Goldman Sachs) but I actually found one of them – from a woman who left 12 years ago – pretty interesting:
I believe that there is so much misunderstanding about the business and it makes me nuts. Bottom line: if people don’t trust each other, none of this works.
I have heard many in the business ask this troubling question about the current state of affairs, ‘who is a customer anyways?’ Wow. Back in 2000 when I left trading, the lines were starting to get blurred but now it seems that the lines may be gone altogether.
It used to be that, generally speaking, both sides of the trade cared about the relationship as it was in their mutual best interest to care over the long term; both needed each other for liquidity, ideas and more. When everyone starts seeing each other as competitors, that is a big problem. The goal ceases to be one of building relationship and becomes instead to win. Not to be overly dramatic here but think about war crimes for a second. How do people justify doing what they do to other people? They stop seeing them as human beings. How does the street perhaps justify what they are doing? They are not clients. And vice versa.
What do you know – advertising could learn a lot from this too. And for reasons I will not mention, that’s all I’ve got to say about that too.