When the client no longer trusts the bank calamity

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presented a dire threat to the firm and the industry. When the client no longer trusts the bank, calamity ensues. And that the buck ultimately had to stop with the board of directors and people like Lloyd and Gary and Woody and Gnodde who had turned a blind eye to all that was happening right under their
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noses, on their watch. They had put the sole pursuit of short-term profits ahead of a reputation that had taken decades to build up, but could be destroyed in an instant. They didn’t fully realize that you can’t just say that you are different and that you put clients first: you actually have to act this way. And if you don’t, the smell of hypocrisy soon starts suffocating your employees and your clients. I discussed with Lex the idea of my leaving Goldman Sachs. I didn’t tell him specifically that I had been working on a piece, but I wanted to know if he thought there would be moral value in my saying something publicly about why I was leaving, what I thought was wrong with the system. Idealistically, I thought I could make a difference. I wanted to know if he agreed. Lex was one of the only people I trusted enough to keep this locked shut. He didn’t drink much. He didn’t mix in crowds where he could let it slip. We had such a long history; we’d always stood by each other. Lex had known over the course of my career how my mind-set had evolved. Over the last year, I’d told him a number of times about my growing disillusionment with the firm. Lex vigorously urged me, as my friend, not to say anything publicly. “Look,” he said, “while there’s merit in what you’re saying and what you’re arguing, you’re going up against a behemoth. I worry for your personal safety, and your legal well-being. I worry about the consequences. You have to think about yourself here. It’s not worth the risk.” He let me think about that for a moment. It was a Sunday and I was at a restaurant in Smithfield, near the City, trying to talk into my iPhone as discreetly as possible. Lex went on: “You’ve got to think of yourself. This might just get ignored, and then you’ve walked away from a career, you’ve taken a financial loss by losing your unvested stock.” Lex meant that I would lose all my future income: salary, bonus, plus stock in Goldman Sachs that had been promised to me for the next few years as an incentive to stay with the firm. I pushed back, getting on my high horse. In my mind, I told Lex, the moral benefits outweighed the risks. I felt incredibly strongly about this. “Great,” Lex said. “I’m telling you, this thing is too risky. I wouldn’t do it.” That was the end of the conversation. I didn’t speak to Lex again until my piece had been published. ——— For the next month, I kept going to work every day, doing my job as I’d always done it, as best I could, and writing and honing my op-ed piece late into the night—and telling no one. By early February, I’d finally whittled the piece, titled “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs,” down to 1,500 words. I decided that the place it would have the most impact was the op-ed page of the New York Times , but I didn’t know anyone there to send it to. The op-ed page listed only a mandatory general e-
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