Securities Lawyer Blog | Victim of Fraud?

TAG | eroding integrity of brokers at Goldman

Apr/12

16

Favoring Select Clients Earns Goldman Sachs a $22 Million Fine

In an April 12, 2012, article for Forbes, Halah Touryalai writes that Goldman Sachs was hit with a $22 million penalty for claims that its analysts shared non-public short-term trading ideas with favored clients.

Touryalai reports that Goldman Sachs agreed to settle the charges that its equity analysts met during weekly “huddles” with the firm’s traders to discuss “material, nonpublic information about upcoming research changes” that would eventually be shared with a select group of top clients. The firm will pay $11 million to the SEC and another $11 million to FINRA in a related proceeding.

The SEC said the firm lacked policies for preventing clients and employees from trading on the non-public information. “Higher-risk trading and business strategies require higher-order controls,” said Robert S. Khuzami, Director of the Commission’s Division of Enforcement. “Despite being on notice from the SEC about the importance of such controls, Goldman failed to implement policies and procedures that adequately controlled the risk that research analysts could preview upcoming ratings changes with select traders and clients.”

This practice was commonplace between at least 2006 and 2011. In fact, the SEC says, Goldman created a program dubbed the Asymmetric Service Initiative (ASI) in which analysts shared information and trading ideas from the huddles with select clients.

Touryalai gives these examples that the SEC cites in its Order:

  1. Company A – In April 2009, the Goldman equity research analyst covering Company A discussed the stock during a huddle, even though four days earlier he had recommended the stock to the IRC as a potential addition to Goldman’s Conviction List. The script for the huddle noted that, while investor sentiment was negative on Company A, the analyst covering the stock expected that interest in stocks in that industry would increase before an upcoming industry conference. Five days later, the analyst’s rating on Company A was upgraded from Neutral to Buy, and the stock was added to the Conviction List. There is no record of anyone from Goldman’s compliance group having attended this huddle.
  2. Company B – In April 2008, the Goldman equity research analyst covering Company B discussed the stock during a huddle, after he had already drafted a report upgrading Company B from Neutral to Buy. The script for the huddle noted that the analyst looked to turn more positive on his group, and highlighted Company B. Company B was also added to the Financials sector Record of Ideas that day. Within hours after the huddle, the analyst recommended an upgrade of Company B at an internal meeting.Four business days later, Goldman upgraded Company B from Neutral to Buy. The following day, the analyst removed Company B from the Record of Ideas. A representative from Goldman’s compliance group did not attend the huddle.
  3. Company C – In July 2008, the analyst covering Company C discussed the stock during a huddle, even though he had already proposed a potential downgrade of the stock and scheduled an IRC meeting to discuss the downgrade. The script for the huddle stated that the analyst expected certain companies to be “under pressure,” including Company C. The next day, the analyst downgraded

The Forbes article states that last June Goldman was hit with similar claims by the state of Massachusetts and agreed to pay a $10 million over the s0-called trading huddles.

Securities Lawyer, Lars K. Soreide, of Soreide Law Group, PLLC, has represented clients nationwide. If you or a family member have sustained investment losses due to your stock broker or financial advisor’s recommendations, call for a free consultation on how to potentially recover your losses. To speak with an attorney call 888-760-6552, or visit our website at: www.securitieslawyer.com.

 
Soreide Law Group, PLLC., representing investors nationwide before FINRA the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

Mar/12

14

“Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs”

 

In a recent New York times article, Greg Smith writes about his experience with Goldman Sachs as an executive director and head of the firm’s United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Here are some excerpts from his article that highlight Goldman Sachs intention to make money off their clients not for their clients.

By GREG SMITH New York Times article
To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.
When the history books are written about Goldman Sachs, they may reflect that the current chief executive officer, Lloyd C. Blankfein, and the president, Gary D. Cohn, lost hold of the firm’s culture on their watch. I truly believe that this decline in the firm’s moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival.
Over the course of my career I have had the privilege of advising two of the largest hedge funds on the planet, five of the largest asset managers in the United States, and three of the most prominent sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East and Asia. My clients have a total asset base of more than a trillion dollars. I have always taken a lot of pride in advising my clients to do what I believe is right for them, even if it means less money for the firm. This view is becoming increasingly unpopular at Goldman Sachs. Another sign that it was time to leave.
What are three quick ways to become a leader? a) Execute on the firm’s “axes,” which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. b) “Hunt Elephants.” In English: get your clients — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.
Today, many of these leaders display a Goldman Sachs culture quotient of exactly zero percent. I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client’s success or progress was not part of the thought process at all.
It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,” sometimes over internal e-mail. Even after the S.E.C., Fabulous Fab, Abacus, God’s work, Carl Levin, Vampire Squids? No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding. I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.
It astounds me how little senior management gets a basic truth: If clients don’t trust you they will eventually stop doing business with you. It doesn’t matter how smart you are.
These days, the most common question I get from junior analysts about derivatives is, “How much money did we make off the client?” It bothers me every time I hear it, because it is a clear reflection of what they are observing from their leaders about the way they should behave. Now project 10 years into the future: You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the junior analyst sitting quietly in the corner of the room hearing about “muppets,” “ripping eyeballs out” and “getting paid” doesn’t exactly turn into a model citizen.
I hope this can be a wake-up call to the board of directors. Make the client the focal point of your business again. Without clients you will not make money. In fact, you will not exist. Weed out the morally bankrupt people, no matter how much money they make for the firm. And get the culture right again, so people want to work here for the right reasons. People who care only about making money will not sustain this firm — or the trust of its clients — for very much longer.
End of article exerpts.
 
If you lost money with Goldman Sachs call securities fraud attorney Lars K. Soreide at Soreide Law Group at (888) 760-6552 or visit http://www.securitieslawyer.com.
 

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

Theme Design by devolux.nh2.me