March 14th, 2012 Market Recap, Goldman Executive Shares the Truth

Today’s to-the-point market recap from Reuters, “The S&P 500 broke a five-day streak of gains on Wednesday as investors found little reason to extend a rally that took the benchmark index to four-year highs.”

A lot of interesting reads today:

  • Top 5 Oil And Natgas Companies Riding Growth Wave (IBD)
  • Apple Cash Hoard Could Hit $150 Billion in 2012 (IBD)
  • Scorecard for New Bank Stress Tests (NYT)
  • Apple Approaching its Consensus Price Target (Bespoke)

And perhaps the most interesting is this piece from Greg Smith, who is leaving Goldman Sachs, published in the New York Times. The full piece is worth a read. Some highlights (emphasis mine),

Today, many of these leaders display a Goldman Sachs culture quotient of exactly zero percent. I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client’s success or progress was not part of the thought process at all.

It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,” sometimes over internal e-mail. Even after the S.E.C., Fabulous Fab, Abacus, God’s work, Carl Levin, Vampire Squids? No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding. I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.

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.

So much for doing “god’s work”. Kudos to Greg for sharing his thoughts. Hopefully it sparks some change.

Updated market analysis below, see you tomorrow!

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