Goldman Sachs Still Trying to Improve Public Image

Published: Oct 18, 2010

Topics: Finance       

First, amid the bank's SEC lawsuit, CEO Lloyd Blankein went on every TV station and web site to show the American public that Goldman Sachs was not in fact a group of sea dwellers with fangs out for blood. Then, after the bank put the suit behind it (becoming $550 million poorer), it took out full-page print ads, touting its successful efforts of helping the little guy as well as Mother Earth. And, this month, it made yet another PR move: hiring Bess Joffe as a VP in its investor relations unit, perhaps signaling that the firm is (for real) planning to improve its public disclosure practices.

Joffe "had worked for London-based shareholder-advocacy firm Hermes Equity Ownership Services" and "has pushed companies to change their boards and to improve disclosure." In fact, Bess was instrumental in the Bank of America shareholder vote that separated the firm's CEO and chairman roles, stripping Kenny Lewis of his chairmanship and spelling the beginning of the end of the former chairman and CEO's tenure at BofA.

Joffe has been outspoken against Wall Street pay practices (she is said to believe that compensation should be tied to long-term shareholder gain), so the move to hire her could be seen as a bold one that will (finally) create some real changes at Goldman. That is, if the bank plans on taking her advice, and hasn't just put Joffe on the payroll to further dress the windows of its aquarium.

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