In the wake of the “Fabulous Fab” debacle and a rising public image crisis, Goldman Sachs has made a few changes to its employee handbook.
As Businessweek first pointed out, a footnote in the Senate report on what caused the financial crisis lists 12 rules that Goldmanites must follow when they’re communicating, whether it be via email or talking to a friend about work.
The rules are strict, restrictive and at the same time, exciting!
If what Goldman Sachs employees are saying to one another at the water cooler requires this much secrecy, imagine the stuff they’re doing at their desks.
Goldman rule: 'No matter what you are communicating to the public, your words reflect on the reputation of the firm. ... The firm, therefore, requires that your communication reflect the high standards of the firm, not only in what you say, but also in the way you say it.'
Rule #11: Don't let the unsophisticated public hear you, lest their minds be blown by your brilliance
Goldman rule: 'The level of detail or explanation necessary to make a communication clear, accurate, and understandable will depend, in part, on the breadth and sophistication of the intended audience. ... The lack of financial sophistication of the recipient will often warrant a more detailed presentation.'
Rule #10: Don't let the unsophisticated public hear you refer to them as, the unsophisticated public. (Whoops!)
Goldman rule: 'Of course, your communications should never contain obscene, offensive, or otherwise inappropriate, unprofessional, or unlawful language. Remember, that you do not control and you cannot always predict who the reader will be.'
Rule #9: If you have to ask if it's going to waste our time, don't do it. Example: Casual correspondence.
Goldman rule: 'Casual correspondence, thank you notes, confirmations or schedules for meetings, invitations, and other correspondence that does not relate to business does not require approval.'
Goldman rule: 'It is the policy of the firm to make no comment on rumours whatsoever, even to deny rumours you believe to be untrue.'
Goldman rule: 'Prior to recommending that a customer purchase, sell or exchange any security, salespeople must have reasonable grounds for believing that the recommendation is suitable.'
Goldman rule: 'All sales correspondence from or to employees working from home offices must be routed through regional offices for purposes of review, approval, distribution and retention.'
Goldman rule: 'Each individual's correspondence must be sampled no less often than annually.'
Goldman rule: ''To All' memos ... must be approved as described in the section entitled 'Firmwide Memoranda' in the Employee Handbook.'
Rule #3: Don't waste any of your and/or the firm's time (the two are interchangeable) with needless words
Goldman rule: 'Avoid superlatives and exaggerations.' 'Write using standard, formal written language.' 'Communicate succinctly. Stay strictly to the topic of your communication. Do not include any gratuitous comments.'
Goldman rule: 'Firm employees frequently provide so-called 'trade ideas' to multiple recipients. Such trade ideas are designed to help clients take advantage of market conditions and intelligence, but are not intended to be specific buy/sell recommendations.'
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