Goldman Sachs Not Only Wall Street Firm To Get In On Icing Phenom

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Last week we mentioned that Goldman Sachs, in spite of the assumption it was immune from taking part in peasant-like drinking games, had played host to at least one confirmed icing on its premises at 200 West Street. For the uninformed, "Icing" is the new game the kids are playing these days, wherein you surprise a “bro” with a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, any time, any place and he has to get down on one knee and chug it, unless he happens to whip out his own bottle, in which case, you got owned and have to drink both. Naturally we assumed that such events were taking place on Wall Street, but at places where it wouldn't be such a huge deal if you got caught by someone much more senior than yourself, such as Citi, where they're practically daring their employees to pull this kind of shit. It wasn't that we imagined Goldman Sachs had more important things to do-- front-running clients is really not as difficult as people would you have you think, seriously, try it some time-- but that they'd have more sophisticated drinking games to play. The same thinking went into our answer to the question, "Do you think there've been any icings at DE Shaw," which meant that for only the second time ever, we were proved wrong.

Fortune has learned of icings at Florida-based investment bank Raymond James (RJF) and New York City hedge fund D.E. Shaw.

Not even going to comment on Raymond James, which we figured has been doing this thing since before it had a name. What we are going to harp on is that this is an embarrassment, for the rest of the hedge fund community. YOU'RE GOING TO LET DE SHAW BE THE ONLY ONE?! Unacceptable. You people need to rectify this and fast. Citadel, Tudor, Kynikos, Appaloosa, RenTec, Harbinger, Ping Capital, SAC-- you should have a bottle down your pants and be ready to whip it out on a colleague stat. Make this happen and remember that if there aren't pictures it didn't happen at all.

Update: Points system is as follows:

•1 point for doing this period
•5 points for an ice during market hours
•50 points for an ice between 3:30 and 4PM
•100 points for an icing that takes place just as your target has learned he lost $500 million on a single trade
•1 point for an icing in the parking lot
•5 points for an icing in the cafeteria
•10 points for the men’s room
•25 points for an icing in a Stretch Room (rationale: the people who use these things take themselves extremely seriously and will not be pleased)
•50 points for the trading floor
•100 points for the women’s room
•1 point for performing an ice on an intern
•5 points for performing an ice on a junior trader
•10 points for performing an ice on a PM
•100 points for performing an ice on the boss (conversely, if you *are* the boss points go in reverse order, with the most being awarded for seeking out the lowest man on the totem pole)
•500 points for anyone in HR

Feel free to offer more point-based suggestions for consideration (do you get more points for icing a CFA or MBA? And so on and so forth).

Related

FYI, Whitney Tilson's Investment Thesis On Goldman Sachs Has Not Changed In Light Of Times Op-Ed (Update)

Having said that, T2 Partners will be "monitoring" the situation. The op ed in today’s New York Times by retiring Goldman Sachs Executive Director Greg Smith is the talk of Wall Street. We think we know Goldman well, as the company has been our prime broker for the past seven years and Goldman (both stock and call options) is one of our largest positions, so we wanted to add our comments. Our direct experience as a client of Goldman has been universally positive. The many people we have dealt with there have all been exceptionally talented and high-grade, and never once have we had a negative experience in which we felt that they took advantage of us or didn’t do what they said they would do. That said, we are not naïve. In all of our dealings with Wall Street firms, we assume that they are looking out for their own bottom lines, not ours. And we are certainly aware that the old, gentlemanly culture in which integrity and a customer-first attitude generally prevailed is long gone – not just at Goldman, but across all of Wall Street – and, in fact, across the entire financial industry (the reasons for this and what should be done about it are the subject for another day). When we think about investing in any company – especially a financial one, which is heavily regulated, leveraged, and particularly difficult for an outsider to analyze – we factor into our investment equation our assessment of the company’s culture and values, and, if we have any concerns, what the potential associated risks are, such as unexpected losses and regulatory action. In light of our view of the moral decay across the U.S. financial sector, we aggressively haircut our estimates of intrinsic value in the sector – some companies more so than others. But at some price, of course, any stock is a buy, and last August and September we felt that the negativity surrounding the financial sector was way overdone and hence made a big – and, so far, very profitable – bet on Goldman and a number of other U.S. financial firms. With the run-up in Goldman’s stock – after falling below $90 as recently as December, it’s now over $120, just above tangible book value of $119.72 as of 12/31/11 – we’ve been debating whether to trim or exit our position, so today’s op ed is timely. But is it relevant to our investment thesis? We think probably not, for two reasons: 1) The argument that Goldman has become increasingly profit driven, sometimes at the expense of clients’ best interests, and that some employees use vulgar and disrespectful language is hardly news. What’s the next “shocking” headline: “Prostitution in Vegas!”? 2) We highly doubt that Goldman is as truly corrupt as Smith makes it out to be. Goldman has more than 30,000 employees (including nearly 12,000 vice presidents, of which Mr. Smith is one) and has gone through wrenching changes in the past year, including savage cuts to bonuses and extensive layoffs, so it doesn’t surprise us that there are many disgruntled employees, especially those who are leaving. Is Smith one of them? It’s hard to tell, but here’s an email sent to me this morning by a former partner at Goldman (who generally agrees that the firm’s culture is not what it once was): There are a couple of things out of place. 1) This guy has been at firm for 12 years and is only a VP…a piss ant of sorts. He should have been an MD-light by now, so clearly he has been running in place for some time. 2) He was in U.S. equity derivatives in London…sort of like equities in Dallas…more confirmation he is a lightweight. Somewhere along the line he has had sand kicked in his face…and is not as good as he thinks he is. That happens to a lot of high achievers there. In summary, we think it’s likely that Goldman does the right thing for its clients the vast majority of the time – but not as certainly as it used to in the old days. Times have changed and the trend is unfortunate, but it is not unique to Goldman. In fact, we believe that Goldman still has a better culture and is more ethical than most of its competitors – though this is a very low bar to be sure. Our investment thesis on Goldman is simple: when all the dust settles, it will remain the premier investment banking franchise in the world – and, if so, will be worth a substantial premium to tangible book value. Smith’s column is a warning flag that we’ll be monitoring closely, but we believe our investment thesis remains intact and the stock is still cheap, so we’re not selling.