Greg Smith: Hachette Speakers Bureau

Greg Smith

Wall Street Insider and Former Goldman Sachs Executive

Exclusive Representation by Hachette Speakers Bureau

On March 14, 2012, more than three million people read Greg Smith’s bombshell Op-Ed in the New York Times entitled “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs.” The column immediately went viral, became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter, and drew passionate responses from politicians, business leaders and commentators. Mostly, though, it hit a nerve among the general public who question the role of Wall Street in society — and the callous “take-the-money-and-run” mentality that brought the world economy to its knees a few short years ago.

A loyal and passionate employee, Smith began his career with Goldman Sachs as an intern in the summer of 2000, immersing himself in the firm’s Business Principle #1: “Our clients’ interests always come first.” This remained his mantra as he rose from intern to analyst to sales trader, with clients controlling assets of more than a trillion dollars. He was a proud ambassador for the brand and for more than a decade Smith recruited and mentored candidates, appeared in the Goldman Sachs recruiting video, and managed the summer intern program in sales and trading in New York.

However, later on into his tenure, Smith started noticing that the firm would put profit before principle, focusing on making enough money for the firm, rather than on the best interest of their clients. His work environment became what he referred to as a “toxic and destructive culture” as his colleagues blatantly mocked their clients and derisively referred to them as “muppets.” Smith felt the firm had veered so far from the place he joined out of college, that he could no longer in good conscience identify with what it stood for.

After conversations with nine Goldman Sachs partners over a 12 month period proved fruitless, Smith came to believe that the only way the system would ever change was for an insider to finally speak out publicly, hence walking away from his lucrative career, and publishing his Op-Ed in the New York Times.

Smith received thousands of responses to his piece from across the world from people within the financial industry who agreed with the eroding culture and ethic on Wall Street, to people as far afield as rural Texas, Norway, and China who just like the idea of doing the right thing and speaking truth to power when it needs to be done.

Most recently, Smith chronicled his full story in his new book, Why I Left Goldman Sachs. In it he details his personal journey with the firm, taking readers inside the world’s most powerful bank. He describes in page-turning detail how the most storied investment bank on Wall Street went from taking iconic companies like Ford, Sears, and Microsoft public to becoming a “vampire squid” that referred to its clients as “muppets” and paid the government a record half-billion dollars to settle SEC charges. He shows the evolution of Wall Street into an industry riddled with conflicts of interest and a profit-at-all-costs mentality: a perfectly rigged game at the expense of the economy and the society at large.

Continuing on his mission to change the system, today Smith educates audiences about the danger the breakdown in trust between banks and their clients pose for global capital markets and how ethical behavior and big business can co-exist. He breaks down in laymen terms the best way investors from all walks of life can protect themselves and be better prepared for their financial futures.

Greg Smith was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa and is a graduate of Stanford University. He lives in New York City.

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  • Greg Smith: Why I Left Goldman Sachs
  • Game Change: Tangible Lessons for Main Street from a Wall Street Insider

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