Money buys happiness and a strong brand

September 27, 2010

I was very surprised to see in a recent survey that Goldman Sachs was ranked number one for being the best firm to work at within the banking industry. The survey conducted by Vault.com took into account prestige among bankers outside the firm and the firm’s quality of life among employees. Similar results were found in an earlier survey conducted by Glassdoors.com.

Given all that has transpired: the public disdain for Wall Street firms as a result of the financial crisis, accusations that the firm took positions against its clients, the SEC charges of fraud and misleading investors related to the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, the Goldman Sachs brand has suffered an unquestionable beating and has found itself in a maelstrom of negative PR.

Based on CoreBrand’s on-going brand image tracking study, all the signs indicate that the brand is in a crisis. While some may believe this is a just blip for the firm and that they will continue business as usual, others like Jim Cramer, in a recent article, have come out to say that the Goldman Sachs brand is tarnished.

Despite all of this, the organization has done a good job at insulating and protecting its most important asset: its employees. It appears that during this tumultuous period, the firm has been able to keep their employees happy and believing that Goldman is a great place to work. According to the survey, Goldman earned top ratings from its employees in seven out of eight categories: career opportunities, communication, employee morale, recognition and feedback, senior leadership, and fairness and respect.

No one would argue that all these attributes are important and contribute to the overall strong internal perceptions. The fact that the firm made a record bonus payout last year doesn’t hurt either. In the midst of the financial crisis, employees of Goldman Sachs received the highest payout ever in the firm’s history.

It remains to be seen if and when Goldman Sachs will be able to regain its elite brand stature among its external constituencies. But for now, we know that money does buy happiness and for Goldman Sachs it buys them a strong brand among employees.

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