Greg Smith’s ‘explosive’ book revealing the dodgy business practices at Goldman Sachs has finally hit the shelves. The revelations from his twelve years at Goldmans have been hotly anticipated ever since he wrote an open resignation letter to the New York Times. This letter famously exposed the fact that his colleagues regularly referred to their clients as ‘Muppets’ and portrayed the culture at the world’s most successful investment bank as ‘toxic’
After I wrote my own banking expose, Cityboy, I learnt a few lessons that Greg might now have to learn. If you’re thinking of slating your bank publicly, here are a few things to bear in mind:
1. The code of silence is alive and well. The very fact ‘Why I left Goldman Sachs’ is so bereft of shocking revelations is because no firm would dare publish anything that could result in a lawsuit from a major bank. I got round this by pretending my memoir was a novel!
2. You might get beaten up when you head back into the financial district. I’ve been pushed around by drunken ‘chaps’ on two occasions when I’ve dared head back into the Square Mile. Some people are just too sensitive I guess!
3. You find out who your real workmates are pretty damn quick after writing a book telling the world that most of your colleagues / clients are tossers. I still keep in regular touch with five or so City pals but most others wouldn’t urinate on me if I was on fire now.
4. You’re gonna get called a ‘hypocrite’ by a lot of people … and they may have a point! I’ve lost count of the number of journalists who told me that I’d bitten the hand that fed me and whilst that is true all I can say is that it deserved to be bitten.
5. You’ll become a rent-a-quote quicker than a mortgage-backed security goes south. Journalists are inherently lazy and so whenever there’s a story about bonuses or a financial scandal I’m wheeled out to give the ‘inside view’. Good clean fun but you get paid nothing at all!
6. Your revelations will change absolutely nothing. Apparently Greg Smith hopes his book will become a force for cultural change in banking. Who is he trying to kid? When a system is open to abuse clever, ruthless types will always abuse it.
7. The freedom you’ll get from no longer being a banker is worth every bonus you’ll never get! And what’s more you’ve burnt all your bridges so there’ll be no soul-searching about whether you made the right move!
My eighth lesson was going be that you don’t get rich writing books … but I’ve just read that Greg received a $1.5m advance for his expose. Jesus, maybe he’s not such a dumb schmuck after all!
Follow Geraint on Twitter at @cityboylondon. ‘Payback Time’, Geraint Anderson’s latest novel, is out now.