Photo: BBC News
When the earthquake hit Japan on March 11th, a schism divided both the earth’s surface and Goldman Sachs’ office in Tokyo.The Japanese natives in Goldman’s Tokyo office stayed put; the ex-pat employees of Goldman’s office booked flights and got out immediately. The divide has caused a “serious issue” inside the bank’s Tokyo office, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Word is that the ex-pats wanted to work from Singapore or Hong Kong, but the Japanese told them, essentially, if you leave you can’t do business here; you can’t trade with your Japanese clients.
When CNBC reported on the internal turmoil last week, John Carney wrote:
Several meetings were held [after the earthquake] between senior Goldman executives and Tokyo-based employees. At least one meeting was held in a large conference room on one of the five floors of the Mori Tower in Tokyo, which houses Goldman’s offices in Japan. Senior executives attending the meeting included Michael Evans, the firm’s head of emerging markets and Asia chairman, and Ed Forst, the co-head of Goldman’s investment management division.
“The message was clear: no one is to leave. If you do leave, you can’t come back and expect to still work for Goldman,” the person said.
The story we heard is that Goldman’s native employees from Japan were (understandably) upset at the employees who left, and very senior U.S.-based executives were flown in to mediate between the expats and the natives.
The solution the firm came up with was apparently to have the people concerned with radiation work from an office in southern Japan.
It’s interesting that Goldman’s expat employees were so concerned because a week after the earthquake, when the extent of the radiation was unclear and many were still concerned, Goldman held a conference call for its clients about the earthquake and radiation.
The message was essentially, don’t worry about it.