Subscribe: RSS Feed | Twitter | Facebook | Email
Home | Contact Us

Oppenheimer’s Al Loewenthal: Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool…

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 15, 2012 8:06 AM |

Reactions I heard to the Jerry Maguire type bombshell launched by former Goldman exec Greg Smith ran the gamut yesterday.

There are those who questioned Mr. Smith’s sanity at committing career suicide. Others appreciated his airing of dirty laundry and “come to Jesus” expose. I personally believe if Mr. Smith wanted to lash out at those at Goldman who created the culture he came to detest, he may have been more laser like in his approach.

The hand grenade he launched into the Goldman camp was the equivalent of friendly fire and also hit plenty of very good people who work very hard to make an honest living everyday. I know very honest and very good people in the firm.

I welcome being the harshest critic of those who deserve to be called out. 

Mr. Smith makes some very good points which deserve to be aired, but painting an entire firm — and perhaps by extension the entire industry — with one broad brush is equally unfair.

Moving right along, not surprising that Goldman and Wall Street will look to sweep the residue of Mr. Smith’s bombshell under the rug very quickly. Damage control kicks in immediately, and the best form of that is very simply not to discuss the topic at hand.

We are not disappointed, though, as one Wall Street executive took the bait offered by Mr. Smith and put out a memo which I welcome highlighting.

Under the heading of Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool Than to Speak Out and Remove All Doubt, Investment News highlights, What Oppenheimer Boss’ E-Mail Said About the Goldman Op-Ed:

From: Lowenthal, Albert

Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 8:04 a.m.

Subject: FW: NY Times Op-Ed (March 14, 2012)

Below is an Op-Ed article written by an employee (soon to be ex-employee) of Goldman Sachs. It is a scathing article about what the author claims to be the deteriorating culture at one of the largest and most influential investment banks on the planet. I have no firsthand knowledge of the truth or accuracy of the article, but it is an article that is likely to go “viral” on the internet and become a topic for our clients, and generate questions and issues that do not reflect our firm or most of the people who work in this industry.

At Oppenheimer, we work hard each day to support and service the investment needs of our clients. We do not trade against them and have not built a firm around a proprietary-trading book that requires our clients to lose in order for us to win. We largely act as agent and sit on the same side of the table as our clients. We benefit when they do. I am proud of the culture that we have built at Oppenheimer and do not believe that it needs defending either internally nor externally.

I think that it is important that you are aware of this article and understand the differences between what it says about Goldman and what and who we are here at Oppenheimer.

Standard corporate fare on behalf of a Wall Street executive? You may think.

Mr. Loewenthal may have wanted to think twice prior to writing this memo. Why is that? Well, let’s review some of the comments left at Investment News:

7:24 PM on 3/14/2012

When Smith describes a company that pushes “any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym,” he is precisely describing Lowenthal’s Oppenheimer, which dumped auction rate securities on its clients and has left retail clients frozen to this day.

Lowenthal could prove Oppenheimer’s distinction from Goldman Sachs by making its ARS victims whole today. How about it, Al?

8:03 PM on 3/14/2012

Amazing. The nerve. Oppenheimer is the worst firm out there in terms of how they helped their clients, or didn’t, regarding auction rate preferreds. Goldman quickly made their clients whole. Oppenheimer is hiding behind a horrible (for clients) settlement with NY AG and may NEVER redeem their clients. I’d be ashamed to work at oppenheimer. Albert is a liar and a cheat.

You cannot make this stuff up.

This said, I also know very good and honest people at Oppenheimer as well. They do not occupy the senior executive offices.

Would love to hear what people think of Mr. Smith’s bomb and Mr. Loewenthal’s response.

Navigate accordingly.

Thank you to the reader who brought this story to my attention.

Isn’t it time to  subscribe to all my work via e-mailRSS feed, on Twitter or Facebook?

Do your friends, family, and colleagues a favor and get them to do the same. Thanks!!

I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets, our economy, and our political realm so that meaningful investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

For those who might appreciate the Jerry Maguire-Greg Smith clip….enjoy!!

Larry Doyle

Recent Posts