Back when he was at or near the top of Goldman Sachs, Henry Paulson would plant a question in the audience when presenting to different groups within GS. Someone would ask him what keeps him up at night, and he would respond that he feared one or two bad apples inside Goldman could commit an egregious error that would be a serious blow to the firm's reputation, financiall crippling, or that might even take the investment banking powerhouse down in total.
Paulson's crucial point was that the business of finance is ephemeral in the specific business sense. Translated, the history of investment banking is littered with countless firm failures. To underscore the point, senior executives at Goldman would frequently hand out deal tombstones from the past. It was striking how many investment houses from the past were no longer. The message in all of this to GS employees was for them to be wise in their actions. The firm's present prosperity hardly ensured a prosperous future for the blue chip investment bank.