By Liz Moyer
On an uncharacteristic television interview blitz Wednesday morning, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s (GS) Chairman and Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein admitted the company "hasn't gotten everything right" in its dealings with the public over the last few years.
He wants to change that.
Blankfien said Goldman hasn't "exercised its muscles" in dealing with the public and the media in the aftermath of the financial crisis, a period in which the firm has been repeatedly pilloried in the media for its seeming conflicts of interest and questionable business practices.
Two years ago, just about the time Blankfein last appeared on CNBC, the firm faced civil fraud charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission for its role in developing and selling a complex mortgage derivative known as Abacus. Goldman would eventually pay $550 million to settle that case, the biggest payment to the SEC by a Wall Street firm ever.
Goldman's image has recently taken more hits. Last month, a former employee of Goldman's London operations quit in a highly public fashion, sending a letter to The New York Times op-ed page lambasting Goldman's culture.
In separate interviews on CNBC and Bloomberg TV Wednesday morning, Blankfein said the firm needed to do a better job "getting out there and telling people how important this industry is," referring to investment banking.
Blankfein told Bloomberg TV the American public had not likely heard the name Goldman Sachs before the financial crisis three years ago. The general public "wasn't part of our audience" and not seen as an important communications constituency, Blankfein said. "Shame on us."
The CEO's interviews were conducted from the firm's lower Manhattan headquarters, and part of a client conference focusing on opportunities in growth markets. Goldman has eyed expansion in Brazil, China and other so-called growth economies in an effort to "be Goldman in more places," Blankfien has said.
-By Liz Moyer, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2512; [email protected]