Goldman Sachs joins in ‘new vision’

The compliance landscape has changed dramatically for financial institutions since the global downturn.

Governments and regulators around the world are keen to legislate away the possibility of another financial crisis on the scale we saw in 2008, but that means businesses have had to up their game.

Banks and auditors were keen to distance themselves from risky practices and improve their public image. However, this proved particularly difficult for the Goldman Sachs Group as the organisation saw itself brought in front of the US Congress and accused of poor levels of compliance.

Indeed, just as Goldman Sachs hauled itself out of hot water, the now famous open resignation from Greg Smith published in the New York Times in March last year did little to improve the bank’s reputation. More than a year on, with many of the claims Mr Smith made in the letter refuted, the company is still tainted with public concern.

But Goldman Sachs is just one example. Banks in the US and UK have all found themselves desperately keen to improve their public perception, only for suggestions of risky behaviour or non-compliance to emerge.

Now, however, Goldman Sachs has published a new report on business ethics and practices following an in-depth review. The report is introduced by 14 Business Principles, on which the organisation hopes to base its practices, processes and internal cultures.

It promises to always put clients’ interests first and to restore its damaged reputation by “complying fully with the letter and spirit of the laws, rules and ethical principles that govern us”.

“Our continued success depends upon unswerving adherence to this standard.”

The organisation also promises a higher standard of client care and, in that vein, higher levels of communication.

“We examined the responsibilities we have to our clients, their expectations of the firm, the different roles we may play to accomplish our clients’ objectives and how the firm communicates with them. We identified actions that would further strengthen our focus on clients and long-term relationships,” the report states.

Goldman Sachs, however, is not the first bank to publish a report about its renewed efforts to improve its reputation. In September last year Barclays Bank released a similar plan, while Lloyds Banking Group outlined their new “vision and values” in 2011.

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