Opening Statement by Lloyd C. Blankfein at the Goldman Sachs 2010 Annual Meeting of Shareholders
Before we get into the formal agenda of our shareholder meeting, I wanted to address some important issues that are on all of our minds.
The last few weeks have obviously been a difficult and disappointing period for the firm. Most significantly, questions have been raised that go to the heart of this institution’s most fundamental value: how we treat our clients.
Our success has been and will continue to be dependent on the trust and confidence of our clients and our shareholders. Everything we do – every piece of advice we give, every transaction we execute and every dollar we manage – must support that fact.
There is no bigger priority for our Board of Directors and management than to undertake a comprehensive review of all of our business practices. This effort will be defined by one central question: Are the clients of Goldman Sachs and the broader public interest being served in a manner entirely consistent with their highest expectations? We believe in the quality of our business standards, but are committed to elevating them to an even higher level.
To that end, the Board of Directors and the firm’s management are establishing the Business Standards Committee. Our 14 business principles begin with a value that is core: Our clients’ interests always come first. The Committee is charged with examining the firm’s adherence to this and our other business principles through our business practices.
It will make recommendations to the Board and management, reinforcing the firm’s client focus and culture of ethics as well as improving upon the transparency of our activities. In addition, The Business Standards Committee will examine and make recommendations to bolster Goldman Sachs’ commitment to training, education and ongoing professional development, which are central to the protection and enrichment of the firm’s culture.
We understand that there is a disconnect between how we as a firm view ourselves and how the broader public perceives our role and activities in the market. To address this, we need a rigorous self-examination. The review of our business practices and standards will be detailed and comprehensive. It will focus, above all, on the principles that should define this institution, the services we provide, the products we offer and the work we try to advance every day.
Our board and the firm’s management have been intensely focused on the details and structure of this examination. The success of these efforts will ultimately rely on the input we receive from our shareholders, our clients, our regulators and the broader community. Our goal is to ensure that, in every respect, Goldman Sachs provides responsible leadership in and fulfills its duty to the financial system.
I recognize that this is an important moment in the life of this institution. During previous times of challenge, the firm has always come together around the core values that define it. However confident I may be in them, it is clear that our firm must renew the core principles that have sustained it for 140 years. On behalf of every person at Goldman Sachs, we pledge to you to do everything to fulfill that commitment.