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Here’s What Not to Write in Goldman Sachs Emails

June 16, 2016, 8:05 PM UTC
Traders work in the Goldman Sachs stall on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Traders work in the Goldman Sachs stall on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 16, 2010. Goldman Sachs Group Inc shares opened 4.7 percent higher on Friday, the morning after the Wall Street firm agreed to pay $550 million to settle civil fraud charges. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTR2GGZL
Photograph by Brendan McDermid — Reuters

If you work at Goldman Sachs and someone calls you a piece of excrement over email, expect to get a call from compliance.

It’s no secret that big banks monitor employee work emails in case of misconduct—but surveillance system at Goldman Sachs Group goes beyond that.

The New York City-based banking giant has a list of over 180 phrases that should they appear on any bank-owned communication platforms, either from or to a Goldman Sachs employee, get flagged. That list however was produced in 2008 and has likely since been updated. It also applies only to employees that work with clients, and is likely just one of the global company’s surveillance methods.

Goldman (GS) uses software that automatically monitors email correspondences for phrases or words that could portend trouble, CNBC reported. A human employee follows up by scanning the program’s selections, and decides whether it’s a problem.

The list of no-no phrases at Goldman includes words that you would expect, for example, correspondence that might suggest misconduct such as:”I/we will sue you/your firm/Goldman/GS” or “report the matter to the SEC/NASD/NYSE” or “you stole from me/my account.”

Other phrases that hint at a unhappy client also get tagged, including: “I am not a happy camper” and the more extreme “you’re/you are a piece of sh-t.”

Goldman also flags a number of variations that express rage or frustration on the part of the clients. It ranges from the mildly worded “I am dissatisfied” to the use of “f*ck” in 13 different phrases.

We deploy cutting edge technology and exercise the utmost care to protect confidential information, secure data, and provide high-end client service. The firm’s monitoring efforts reflect our commitment to upholding the highest standards of professionalism and integrity,” a spokesperson from Goldman wrote in a statement to Fortune.


The program also recognizes a few other notable phrases that could suggest illegal activity such as: “split the difference” or “give you a piece of the/my commission.”

Other emails associated with the employee’s performance, such as “found numerous/several errors/mistakes” or “how could this happen again” also fall under the company’s scrutiny.

Most banks have some form of monitoring for employee correspondences.

For example, the code of conduct at Citigroup (C) suggests that employees “should not have any expectation of personal privacy when you use Citi’s equipment, systems and services.” That includes use of company owned computers, messaging, texts, emails, intranet, and more.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) also has a monitoring system that may “at all times” surveil employees’ email correspondences, chat and instant messages sent to or from the bank’s system, telephone calls, and search history on a user’s browser.