Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,” sometimes over internal e-mail.
The public ate it up, clients were enraged, and management wasn’t going to tolerate it. Reports followed that Goldman was screening emails for references to the word.
In a new report, the FT’s Tom Braithwaite and Tracy Alloway write that an internal investigation was largely fruitless:
Goldman responded by launching an investigation into what was nicknamed internally “the muppet hunt”. The investigators interviewed dozens of staff and sifted through millions of emails, finding about 4,000 “muppet” references. But they said 99 per cent of those referred to last year’s movie of the same name.
However, one email sent to Mr Smith did refer to clients as “muppets”. A salesperson wrote: “The muppets don’t understand they can trade the futures through a block with other liquidity providers.” Goldman executives claim that the language, though disparaging, did not mean the salesperson was attempting to take advantage of clients but to help them understand a trade. It continued: “Can you summarise an email on how it works?”
Read the whole piece at FT.com.
If anything, all of the harmless references to “Muppets” paint a much more wholesome picture of the firm.
Smith has written a memoir, which will be released later this month.