What should we make of Greg Smith’s Op-Ed piece in today’s New York Times, “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs“? Is it the musing of a former leader who laments the changes which have occurred at a great financial institution or a parting shot from a disgruntled employee at his former employer?
Regardless of your perspective, one thing is clear. His expression of his opinion in a national publication illustrates the potential dangers of media exposure by senior executives. Maybe his comments were well-intended; perhaps they were not. But what will now happen to him and the people who reported to him, or to whom he reported? Now that his thoughts are in the news, in every form, it is hard to predict what wheels his departing bus will have. Will the regulators pounce, will clients leave, will recruiting suffer, how many lives will this impact? Will his comments carry sufficient weight to render a potential change in the perceived culture of his former employer, or will these thoughts be dismissed as sour grapes? In this continuing period of reduced bonus pools and compensation structures and the vilification of the financial industry in some sectors of the media and politics, will this public display of opinion be seen as a breath of fresh air or merely a piling on of further criticism? Questions to which the answers are yet to come.
This post was co-authored by Charles A. Bruder, a Member of Norris McLaughlin & Marcus and Co-Chair of its Executive Compensation & Employee Benefits Group. Charles is experienced in all aspects of defined contribution and defined benefit plans, deferred compensation arrangements, stock option plans, employee stock ownership plans, and other incentive and equity-based compensation arrangements.