Under scrutiny, banks get serious

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

TEXT OF STORY

KAI RYSSDAL: Tough as it is for Wall Street to swallow this, times have changed. Gambling and golf don't go too well together with billion-dollar losses and government bailouts -- especially not in the form of a three-day junket to Vegas.

Last night Goldman Sachs moved its annual technology conference from the Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas to San Francisco. Marketplace's Amy Scott reports.


AMY SCOTT: No offense, San Francisco, but Goldman Sachs thinks you're boring.
Boring enough to pass muster with regulators and wary taxpayers whose cash is helping prop up the bank. Goldman also switched venues for a hedge-fund conference. From Miami to New York.

JOHN DALY: They're not resorts, and that's the big deal.

John Daly is a corporate events planner who works with Wall Street firms. He's giving the same advice to clients in the auto industry: Tone it down.

DALY: Even though they may have the same good time, you know, you go to New York, you can still do a lot of Broadway shows. It's not considered a resort where the average person is thinking about these guys laying out on a beach.

Particularly not this time of year. Other banks are taking similar precautions. Last week Wells Fargo canceled an employee retreat planned for Las Vegas. Morgan Stanley called off a similar trip to Monte Carlo.

But in protecting its image, Goldman Sachs may end up hurting its business. The AP reports Goldman's on the hook for a hefty cancellation fee. And New York and San Francisco are some of the most expensive cities in the country.

Tim Ghriskey is with Solaris Asset Management.

Tim Ghriskey: It's gonna be an extra cost certainly for the company, which is ironic, because companies are making these changes to avoid the perception that they are overspending.

Worse still, Goldman risks alienating some clients. They'll have to rebook travel for a conference in two weeks. The bank told them about the change yesterday.

In New York, I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.

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