Internal Governance and Control at Goldman Sachs: Block Trading Case Study Solution


The case study, “Internal Governance and Control at Goldman Sachs: Block Trading” by Malcolm S. Salter and Ratna Sarkar, delves into the complexities of internal governance and control within financial institutions, focusing specifically on Goldman Sachs and its block trading practices. Block trading, involving large quantities of securities, poses unique challenges in terms of governance and control due to its potential impact on the market and clients. This analysis aims to dissect the issues presented in the case and offer recommendations for enhanced internal governance and control at Goldman Sachs.

Case Issue

The primary issue in this case revolves around the internal governance and control mechanisms employed by Goldman Sachs concerning block trading. Block trading, being a substantial part of Goldman Sachs’ business, demands rigorous oversight to ensure compliance with regulations, ethical standards, and the prevention of market manipulation. The challenge lies in establishing robust internal controls that balance the firm’s profit motives with ethical conduct and legal requirements.

Case Analysis

Ethical Dilemmas and Regulatory Compliance:
Block trading inherently raises ethical dilemmas, especially concerning the potential for conflicts of interest and market manipulation. Balancing client interests, firm profitability, and regulatory compliance requires a meticulous approach to internal governance. Transparency and clear communication are vital in navigating these complexities.

Risk Management and Accountability:
Effective governance in block trading necessitates a robust risk management framework. The firm must identify, assess, and mitigate risks associated with large-scale trades. Furthermore, establishing clear lines of accountability ensures that decisions are made responsibly, aligning with the firm’s values and regulatory requirements.

Client Relationships and Reputation Management
Block trading practices directly impact client relationships and the firm’s reputation. Maintaining trust with clients requires adherence to ethical standards and fair trading practices. Transparency, honesty, and delivering on fiduciary responsibilities are fundamental in safeguarding client relationships and the firm’s reputation.


In conclusion, the case underscores the critical importance of strong internal governance and control mechanisms in financial institutions, especially when dealing with complex practices like block trading. Ethical dilemmas, regulatory compliance, risk management, and client relationships are at the core of these challenges. To uphold the integrity of its operations, Goldman Sachs must navigate these challenges meticulously.

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Enhance Compliance Protocols
Goldman Sachs should invest in advanced compliance technologies and protocols to ensure real-time monitoring of trades, enabling the identification and prevention of any potential irregularities. Regular training programs should be conducted to keep employees updated on the latest regulations and ethical standards.

Strengthen Risk Management
Develop a comprehensive risk management strategy specific to block trading. This strategy should include scenario analysis, stress testing, and continuous monitoring of trading activities. Establishing a risk committee dedicated to overseeing block trading can ensure that risk factors are thoroughly evaluated and managed.

Promote Ethical Leadership
Foster a culture of ethical leadership within the organization. Encourage open discussions about ethical dilemmas and provide a platform for employees to voice concerns. Implement a whistleblower protection program to ensure that employees feel secure reporting any unethical practices they encounter.

Enhance Client Communication
Improve transparency in client communication. Clearly outline the risks associated with block trading and provide clients with detailed reports on the execution of their trades. Proactive communication about potential conflicts of interest and the steps taken to mitigate them can enhance client trust.

Regular External Audits
Conduct regular external audits of block trading practices. Independent audits can provide unbiased evaluations of the firm’s governance and control mechanisms. External auditors can identify potential areas of improvement and provide valuable insights into industry best practices.

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