A culture of bullying and greed: Wanted - interns for Goldman Sachs...

Must be prepared for dawn interrogations and ritual humiliations. Bring your own stool (chairs not provided). And don't, whatever you do, get the boss's lunch order wrong

Back on 12 June 2000, as the dot-com bubble was deflating, young Greg Smith was all puffed up, clutching his "extra-large coffee" and looking up "at the formidable tower that housed Goldman Sach's equities trading headquarters" in New York. "Holy shit," he thought, as he arrived for the first day of his summer internship at the Wall Street bank.

More than a decade later, on 14 March 2012, not long after a different financial bubble had burst, the remark may well have risen in a hush over the Goldman dealing room as wide-eyed traders pored over an opinion piece in The New York Times. Title? "Why I'm Leaving Goldman Sachs". Author? Greg Smith. "Today is my last day at Goldman Sachs," Mr Smith proclaimed. Over 12 years, he said, he had understood what made the bank tick. "And I can honestly say that the environment is now as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it."

Now, Mr Smith, who had risen to become a Goldman executive director and head of the firm's US equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa before quitting, is preparing tell us the full story. According to reports, his biting commentary on Goldman won him a book deal and a cool $1.5m (£930,000) advance, with the product of his labours, imaginatively titled Why I Left Goldman Sachs, set to hit the shelves on 22 October. The night before, he is reported to be planning to break his self-imposed hiatus from the public square with a US television interview. Ahead of the launch, Goldman yesterday said it had conducted a detailed review of Mr Smith's claims and found no evidence to support them.

But as we near the release date, it seems the firm's President Gary Cohn, who along with chief executive Lloyd Blankfein merited special mention in Mr Smith's op-ed for losing "hold of the firm's culture on their watch", is likely to be among those waiting in line for a copy of the tome. "I probably will read it," he said during an interview on Bloomberg television earlier this month. If Mr Cohn wants an early look, the first chapter was released on the Apple iBookstore this week. Titled "I Don't Know, But I'll Find Out", it offers a glimpse of Mr Smith's first days in the belly of the "great vampire squid", as the bank was memorably dubbed by Rolling Stone.

Back then Mr Smith was a dedicated convert to the Goldman cause. That summer's day, the 21-year-old had no premonition of what – in his view – Goldman would become, and how he would go on to feel. Young Mr Smith, then on a scholarship at Stanford, was, to his mind, justifiably proud. "The selection process for any type of job at Goldman Sachs is extremely rigorous. On average, only one in 45 people... who apply for a summer internship, or a full-time job, get an offer," he says. To get ahead, he'd prepped hard for the interview. "I'd read The Culture of Success, a history of the firm by Lisa Endlich, a former Goldman VP," he reveals. Who doesn't, right?

With a toe in the door, Mr Smith was issued with a folding stool and a "big orange ID badge" on a "bright orange lanyard" – status markers to remind an intern that he or she was mere "plebe, a newbie, a punk-kid". "It was innately demeaning," he says, recounting how interns had to carry around the stools "at all times because there were no extra chairs at the trading desks".

The internship itself was demanding. "You came to work at 5:45 or 6:00 or 6:30 in the morning," Mr Smith recalls. Goldman interns were put through two "Open Meetings" a week, where "a partner would stand at the front of the room with a list of names and call on people at will with questions on the firm's storied culture, its history, on the stock market".

"Depending on the personal style of the people in charge, the meetings could be brutal. They were always intense," Mr Smith says, recalling how, on one occasion, an intern was rebuked by a VP for not knowing enough about Goldman's stance on Microsoft shares. "What is our price target? What are the catalysts coming up? How has the stock been trading? Come on," said VP barks, according to the account. The hapless intern "starts to tear up and runs out of the room".

Smith also recalls the treatment handed out to an intern after a managing director ordered a cheddar cheese sandwich and was presented with a cheddar cheese salad. The boss "opened the container, looked at the salad, looked up at the kid, closed the container and threw it in the trash". "It was a bit harsh, but it was also a teaching moment," Mr Smith writes.

The anecdotes chime with the caricature of Wall Street as a laddish jungle where ritual hazing is just part of doing business. But at this early stage there is none of the greed that Mr Smith spoke of in his op-ed – he claimed, for instance, that people in the firm "callously talk about ripping their clients off". Instead, the gruelling intern routine is presented as a way of training new initiates to be "truthful, resourceful, collaborative".

Tantalisingly, though, Chapter 5 is titled "Welcome to the Casino".

Wall Street high-rollers back Romney over Obama this time

Goldman Sachs and other big names on Wall Street are proving Mitt Romney's most potent backers in the presidential election campaign, figures show.

The Republican challenger and his allies raised $170.5m in September, just short of the 2012 fund-raising record set last month by President Barack Obama. The Republicans began this month with $191.2m in cash in hand. Papers filed on Monday revealed the sources of money raised by Mr Romney for the Romney Victory fund he uses jointly with the Republican National Committee. Campaigns can accept only up to $5,000 from an individual donor, while a joint fund may accept up to $70,800 on top of that. Staff at Goldman Sachs donated $1.3m in the third quarter of this year, up from just over $900,000 in the second quarter.

Other big Wall Street contributors over the past three months included JPMorgan, which gave $827,941, and the private equity investor Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, which handed over $986,400.

Many bankers have switched allegiance to Mr Romney after backing Mr Obama in 2008. Some have accused the President of being "anti-business" and worry how he will tackle the fiscal crisis. Reuters.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate Pricing Analyst - 6 months / 1 year analytical experience

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Management Accountant

£40000 - £46000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Global publishing and digital bu...

Year 2 Teachers needed for day to day supply

£110 - £130 per day + Competitve rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Yea...

Year 4 Teachers needed for day to day supply across the region

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits