Jackie Zehner, Goldman Sachs’ Group Inc. (NYSE:GS) first female trader to become a partner wrote a response to last week’s Op Ed from Greg Smith which had indicted the company’s recent practices. The former Vice President at the company said he was leaving the firm because he could not handle the corporate culture that had grown there. The letter caused a stir on Wall Street and was even being commented on by lawmakers in Washington. Today’s response from Zehner, who left the company twelve years ago, is in speculative exploration of the practices described in Smith’s letter.
Beginning with the affirmation that she had no reason to doubt the credibility of the statements made by Smith in his piece she goes on to elucidate and comment upon the practices he outlined. Zehner worked on the firm’s Partnership Committee, the body responsible for internal practice with clients. She states that behavior such as that described by Smith would have been unheard of in her time at the company, and the words used to refer to clients would have gotten you in “BIG” trouble back then. She describes a balance of responsibilities that kept traders in line with clients goals. All in all she believes the kind of behavior described impossible on a widespread scale at her Goldman.
She freely admits that that was twelve years ago and speculates on the changes that have occurred since that time. An increasing climate of suspicion, coupled with the increasing sums involved in trades have skewed the behavior of the traders at the customer’s expense. She also defends the firm, or at least the industry, quite eloquently and says the one sided discourse like that in Smith’s letter is not representative of actual practice. She believes there is a balance to the conversation that the media hasn’t found yet.
Zehner’s response is thought provoking and eloquently styled. It enumerates the separate areas under question in the battle of word that has erupted since Greg Smith’s letter. Tou can go to Jacki’s blog to see the entire thing. It’s worth it as a measured response from someone with experience of the world Smith was operating in but who finds themselves outside that world currently. It is a refreshing take on an issue that has been played out a hundred times in the last week.