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Goldman Sachs’ list of what NOT to say in an email

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Many bankers would agree that the financial industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world.

While it may seem restrictive for employees to have their emails monitored, it is not necessarily nefarious in the banking industry.

Banks typically do it to detect any early indicators of fraud. In fact, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) expects that banks’ policies and procedures will include monitoring emails.

Recently, CNBC obtained a document detailing more than 180 phrases that were allegedly flagged for scrutiny among emails sent by employees at Goldman Sachs to give the public a glimpse of how investment bankers detect frauds.

The investment banking giant’s compliance department conducts a surveillance of employees’ emails with a software that monitors for certain phrases.  If the system finds a problem, a human employee will take a deeper look at the emails and whether they represent a problem.

The document was produced in 2008, and the firm has updated its search terminology since then. The source who provided the document to CNBC asked not to be named.

Goldman employees told CNBC the email system automatically pops up a window if a user attempts to send an email containing a bad word.

ALSO READ: Goldman Sachs revamps its staff appraisal system

The sender must click a box to demonstrate that he or she is aware of the expletive and approves sending it before the offending email can go through.

The bank is also transparent to employees about the email monitoring, informing them their electronic communications will be watched.

A spokesman for Goldman Sachs told CNBC  “We deploy cutting-edge technology and exercise the utmost care to protect confidential information, secure data and provide high-end client service,” said a spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs. “The firm’s monitoring efforts reflect our commitment to upholding the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.”

The intention of the monitoring system is to spot disputes and frauds.

There are several phrases that might indicate a dispute with a customer, including “not made aware,” “I trusted you” and “I told you days/weeks/months ago.”

And particularly, “paying fees through/thru the nose/a–/butt.

Some of the phrases could be indicators of possible fraud, including “adjust your account,” or “clowns managing/running the fund/show/portfolio/account/my money.”

The Goldman Sachs list was formatted in such a way as to capture phrases with different configurations that produce the same meaning, with word options for each phrase separated by brackets or lines.

For example, one search term is: “I didn’t {authorise}|{agree}.”

Presumably, that search term would capture anyone writing the phrase “I didn’t authorise,” or “I didn’t agree,” both of which might indicate some sort of dispute.

There are also a number of phrases linked to stock trading on the list: “Time to dump,” “break the trade” and “stock will fly/soar/dive/tank.”

While the examples above are related to daily bank operations, the list also includes phrases of daily office life like “answer your phone,” “don’t worry I’ll take care of it” and “I don’t understand.” Also to be scrutinised were “I’ve been trying to reach you,” and even “still have not received.”

Image: 123RF

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