Why I Left Goldman Sachs by Greg Smith

Not a mind blowing book for sure, but maybe a worthwhile, I dunno, bathroom read or something. A few observations, though.

A, the book is 11 chapters long, and the first 10 is all [in high pitched voice] “I love you, Goldman Sachs, I love you”, over and over again. Agree with dealbreaker, sometimes it seemed as if he wanted the firm to turn to him and say “I'm so sorry, Greg, old buddy”, hug him and then elect him partner or CEO or something.

B, most of it is written with an attitude as if he had not outgrown his junior banker excitement – strange to hear it from an overdue VP/ED who worked 11 years in the industry – and especially on GS trading floor, for Christ's sake – would be more acceptable for an analyst or associate to still trumpet all those “wow's” sooo loud and clear. Looks to me GS never promoted the guy for a reason.

C, chapter 11, “the muppets” chapter (the word itself used less than a dozen times), is way too idealistic for my taste. Maybe I am far too cynical (indeed), but why would you run your firm over in the press like that and bury your career along with it? I don't want to, but I kinda buy into Goldman's case that there are two versions to this tale.

Overall, a quick read – not anywhere as good and exciting as The Accidental Investment Banker, but it has its laughs. Roger out.


The Accidental Investment Banker by Jonathan A. Knee

The Accidental Investment Banker: Inside the Decade that Transformed Wall Street turned out to be a book I would strongly recommend all junior bankers to read. And senior bankers. And clients – umm, maybe.

A dear old friend and revered former boss ZS suggested it to me back in November 2007 in London, during a roadshow, at the height of the IPO craze – back in the good old times, as now they are called in bankers lingo.

Not as sensational as House of Lies – an image-shattering tv show about consulting powerhouses, especially in the eyes of less sophisticated Russian clients – but quite educational indeed for those not too familiar with the i-banking industry.

The fact that it is not as funny and as politically incorrect as Liar’s Poker or Monkey Business, both of which tended to hyperbolize trading floor and i-banking paranoias respectively, is a strong plus. This book, written a couple of years ahead of the Too Big To Fail drama, gives a much more balanced and candid view of what banking was and what it evolved into. All the conflicts of interest, hidden agenda, internal politics, tricks and treats of the trade, sugar and spice and all things nice, you name it.

In total, it has been one of the most gripping reads recently. Get a copy indeed.

Some bankers were famous for getting revenue credit for a wide range of transactions to which their connection was obscure at best. Referred to internally as “velcro bankers,” because they would stick their name on any deal in the general vicinity, it was said that they engaged in “hoverage” rather than “coverage” of accounts. These bankers consistently managed to get revenue credit on deals even where there they would fail my own “police- lineup” test for awarding secondary revenues: if the client could pick the banker out of a police lineup, he gets secondary credit.