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Goldman's still got it, at least on Wall Street

September 9, 2010 | 11:58 am
Goldman Sachs may be struggling for its reputation in the wider world, but within the cozy confines of Wall Street, Goldman’s still got it.

Thursday brought the latest survey to show that even in its most difficult hour, Goldman Sachs has kept the respect of its own employees and other bankers on the street.

Goldman came out on top of the Vault Banking 50, put out by a career advice site. The ranking factored in  the bank's prestige, as voted on by bankers outside the firm, and the bank’s quality of life, as voted on by people at the company.

The 1,300 respondents answered the survey from April to June, in the midst of Goldman's battle against a lawsuit from the Securities and Exchange Commission and bruising hearings in front of Congress.

Goldmanhq That had an obvious effect on public perception of the company – with opinion surveys showing that Goldman had a worse reputation even than scandal-plagued BP and Toyota.

But people on the Street brushed that aside, with one respondent writing in that "despite the recent bad press, [Goldman is] still the most prestigious."

Employees said that Goldman’s leadership was “supportive and respectful” and that other employees are “very smart, talented and motivated.”

The clear drawbacks for employees were the hours and pressure.

“Don't expect to have a life,” a respondent said.

A good quality of life helped the one Los Angeles-based bank that ranked highly, Houlihan Lokey, which came in at No. 5, after Goldman, Blackstone, J.P. Morgan’s investment bank and Credit Suisse.

The results of the survey are far from scientific, but they back up the numbers from another employment firm,, earlier this summer.

There too, Goldman was the most popular with its own employees, even factoring in the “long working hours and intense pressure.”

The company was helped by the love that employees showed for Goldman’s chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein, who got a vote of approval from 97% of the respondents at the company.

Ike Suri, a founder of the executive search firm Options Group, said the surveys confirm what folks on the Street know. Namely that the Goldman Sachs name “is still pristine and well-regarded amongst its clients, competitors and its employees.  They are cutting-edge and forefront in the marketplace.”

Even with all this respect, Goldman has not been able to escape damage with the people who vote with their money: investors. Goldman's stock price is down 11% this year, compared with a drop of less than 1% for the Standard & Poor's 500 index.

-- Nathaniel Popper

Photo: Goldman Sachs' new Manhattan headquarters. Credit: Brendan McDermid / Reuters