If you work for Deutsche Bank in New York City, you don't need to go back into the office for a while yet: in a town hall yesterday, Matthias Krause, chief of staff for the Americas, informed DB U.S. staff they won't need to return until 2021. Similar things seem to be afoot at UBS, which only has 10% of its London staff in the office and is pursuing a 'people-led approach' to getting the rest back in, with no firm dates for return.
By comparison, JPMorgan wants executive directors and managing directors in its sales and trading business to return next Monday. And Goldman Sachs 'invited' its senior staff back to the office at the end of August.
As virus cases flare on trading floors, who would you rather work for?
It's a question that's likely to keep on arising until COVID-19 is suppressed by either a vaccine or more effective treatment. As we reported yesterday, recruiters say the option to work from home is already become an important differentiator for banks when hiring.
At U.S. banks, the return to the office is likely to pick up in earnest in the coming month. It's not just JPM and Goldman that are getting traders back: Citi has also asked senior staff to appear in person and help train graduate hires; Bank of America is preparing for a first wave of returnees in October.
Already though, JPMorgan and now Barclays have had COVID cases on their trading floors that have necessitated sending people home for quarantine periods. Potentially spurious reports from Goldman Sachs suggest there was a case there too, last Friday, with some GS equities traders allegedly sent home in New York.
Such things are inevitable when hundreds of people are working together in a building - even if desks are two feet apart and masks mandatory in public spaces. Privately, banks may see the occasional COVID case as a price worth paying for the "creative combustion" JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon says happens when people get together in the office.
However, with many senior people in the industry quite happy working from home indefinitely (virus or not) banks prepared to indulge senior traders in 7.30am starts in their spare room may have a special appeal. Deutsche and UBS could be onto something, especially if COVID case pick up over winter. Who knows, people might even accept lower bonuses to work there as a result.
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