Thursday, March 29, 2012

Arthur Levitt: 'there should be transparency'

In a Bloomberg article, Arthur Levitt discusses the inherent tension between buyer and seller of a financial product and concludes that resolving this tension requires transparency.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) should stop promoting itself as “putting customers first” because the slogan ignores conflicts inherent in trading, said Arthur Levitt, the former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman and a senior adviser to the firm. 
“We probably ought to stop saying that because nobody really puts customers first,” Levitt, 81, said in an interview with Erik Schatzker on Bloomberg Television today. “Business is a tension between sellers and buyers.”...

Goldman Sachs made 60 percent of its revenue last year from sales and trading, outweighing businesses that advise clients on takeovers, financing and money management. Levitt said the company shouldn’t emphasize putting clients first because it doesn’t recognize the reality of the trading business. 
“There is a logical, reasonable, fair, understandable tension between a seller of a product and a buyer of a product,” Levitt said. “That’s not to stay that buyers should beware. It is to say there should be transparency.”
Transparency so that the buyer has access to all the useful, relevant information in an appropriate, timely manner so they can independently assess this information and make a fully informed investment decision.

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