Does Goldman Sachs employ sadists?

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Unfortunately for Goldman Sachs, the stream of unfavourable anecdotes emanating from William Cohan's new book on the firm continues unabated.

The latest, on CNBC yesterday concerns the practice of 'hazing' (abusing) new recruits as part of an informal initiation process.

CNBC senior editor John Carney relates how a Goldman partner took the initiative to haze a collection of new associates as follows:

A group of newly recruited investment bankers, fresh out of the nation's top business schools, were summoned to a conference room at 5 p.m. on the Friday before Memorial Day. The partner who summoned them did not tell them what the meeting was about-a fairly standard practice at Goldman where junior employees are often kept in the dark until the last moment. No doubt the young recruits expected that they would be working on a new deal that absolutely had to get done over the holiday weekend.

....By summoning them to the meeting at 5 pm, the partner was effectively issuing an order for them to cancel their plans -without going through the courtesy of actually saying, "You'll have to cancel your weekend plans because our client needs us over the weekend."

....It gets worse. As Cohan tells it, the partner who issued the order to meet at 5 p.m. did not show up until 10 p.m.

What had kept him?

Nothing at all. He told the group that the wait had been a test to see whether they had "the right attitude."

Three of those summoned had left during the intervening hours. They were promptly fired.

Carney points out that this seems illogical: in this way, the partner ensured that Goldman eliminated free thinkers and retained sheeple.

This latest anecdote follows reports of hazing at Goldman in London a few years' ago.

Coming on the same day as a separate claim (also originating from Cohan's book) that former Goldman COO John Thornton threatened to slit the throats of his team and drink their blood if they didn't win a mandate, it suggests that working at Goldman Sachs isn't that great after all.

It implies that working for Goldman Sachs may make your hair change colour. And that the firm is replete with power-crazed sadists.

In its defence, Goldman is not the only bank with a sadistic streak - now or in the past. Geraint Anderson revealed some heavy hazing of interns at the now defunct Dresdner Kleinwort in his Cityboy columns five years ago.

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