Thursday, November 8, 2012

Money Changes Everything (Book Review: Why I Left Goldman Sachs, Greg Smith)

When I was a College Sophomore, I got a part time job at one of those old-school Investment Baking firms, and ever since then, until two years ago, I was a Wall Street employee. I have worked at several trading desk over the years - not as a trader or sales person - but as middle and back office support for the. So, I am familiar with the environment and culture that Greg Smith talks about on his book, "Why I Left Goldman Sachs." Maybe that's why I was attracted to this book. It's a memoir of sorts, specifically around Mr. Smith's tenure at Goldman Sachs, starting as a college intern, up to his Vice President days at the New York, and later, London offices of GS. As a book, I thought it was pretty fascinating, although I don't know if it would necessarily read well with people who may not be into finance. I saw it more as a story of a man and his loyalty. I don't really think there is anything shocking or revelatory in it, and if someone thought there was, I honestly don't think it was malicious on the part of Mr. Smith. I wish the story was just a bit more personal - we only learn bits and pieces of his personal life, and of a more nebulous account of a love affair with "Nadine." I think that would "humanize" Mr. Smith a lot more. But then again, that may not be the intent of this book. Some details are almost nonsensical, but this book is finely written, and always kept my interest level high. I do agree that the culture of firms have changed considerably, on a company politics level anyway. It used to be more familial, but I noticed at my last firm, it was more "each man on his own." Even though right now I am no longer in the business, I do think I may come back one day. Hopefully, if I do, it would be like the way it was before. 


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