Pressures Of Having To Keep A Low Profile Getting To Young Goldman Sachs Employees, Their Friends

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Since its founding in 1869, one of the principles Goldman Sachs has steadfastly promoted is employee anonymity. You're there to work, for the clients, not attract attention. The Time of the Pitchforks has only served to underscore the importance of the rule. Outside the walls of the firm, employees are not to talk or even think about Goldman Sachs. Someone asks where you work, you tell them "Arby's" or "I'm not at liberty to say" and walk away. One slip up-- just one!-- and you could be out. Here's an example of how one is expected to interact with the outside world.

Standing in the lobby of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, a first-year analyst at Goldman Sachs recently debated whether to show his employee ID to get free admission — a perk given to the museum’s corporate partners. The problem? The trader knew that flashing his Goldman credentials at the ticket window would mean risking sneers (or worse) from the tourists and museum employees standing nearby. Instead, he pocketed his ID and paid $20. “It feels like I’m working for the C.I.A.,” the analyst said. He said that during his training, they were told “nobody should be able to identify us as Goldman employees once we left the office.”

He ultimately made the right decision but the art lover gets points off for hesitating, and momentarily considering flashing the ID of that which shall not be named. Had he done so, a sniper would've shot him on the spot. Earlier this summer, an entire group an analysts was nearly wiped out due to the similar carelessness.

This summer, a group of new Goldman employees tried to leave the firm’s 200 West Street headquarters wearing training nametags emblazoned with the firm’s logo, but were stopped by a security guard at the door. “Take those off before you go outside,” the guard ordered, according to a person with knowledge of the incident.

If it seems like a lot of pressure to constantly be keeping one's situation on the down low, it is. And Goldman employees aren't the only one suffering, their friends are going through it too.

Some young Goldman employees have found their tight privacy restrictions to be a source of mystique. “It’s actually sort of obnoxious,” said one private equity analyst with friends who work at Goldman. “They all go around calling it ‘the Firm,’ and we’re supposed to know which firm they’re talking about.”

Being known as the insufferable asshole in your social circle, however, is just the price one must pay when they work at the Firm. All about trade-offs, you know? And if you don't like it, hey, you can always go work for Morgan Stanley, where they don't care if you get drunk, scale the building in only your boxers and shout the company name from rooftop.

A first-year analyst at Morgan Stanley, whose company perks this summer included an open-bar cruise on the Hudson River, said: “We haven’t been given any crazy rules. The people running our training basically said, ‘Conduct yourself appropriately, and don’t say anything over e-mail you wouldn’t want to see in the newspaper.’ ”

Goldman Workers Adopt A Lower Profile [Dealbook]

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