4/4 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Skyscrapers in the City of London financial district seen in London 2/4
By Dhara Ranasinghe, Saikat Chatterjee and Scott Murdoch LONDON / HONG KONG (Reuters) – It was not an introduction to high finance that Adi Patel had once anticipated. The stage fright of walking into the towering offices of a $ 607 billion asset manager in the heart of a historic financial district? Pandemic Era: A Five-Day Induction at Microsoft (NASDAQ 🙂 Teams. The hectic intensity of the trading floor packed with well-trained money managers? Not quite, hunched over a laptop in comfortable clothes in a shared flat. Client lunches and maybe swapping stories after work with fellow graduates embarking on their first steps in finance? It is not probable. The pandemic has ended many initial expectations of the financial industry’s COVID-19 Class. That group includes new hires at financial firms around the world, such as 22-year-old graduate analyst Patel and about two dozen people hired by Aberdeen Standard Investments. Six months later, Patel has only been to the office in central Edinburgh a handful of times; Like many companies in Britain and beyond, Aberdeen has kept its employees at home since last March. “I wasn’t worried that the training was virtual, I was just upset that I couldn’t go to the office. Because as a new carpenter, as a graduate, we want to make those connections,” he said, adding that the virtual training went smoothly. “It’s that little social talk that matters. It’s a lot of those kinds of things we’ve missed.” Your concerns are unlikely to have been allayed by the words of David Solomon, a finance titan as CEO of Goldman Sachs (NYSE :), who called working from home “an aberration.” Working from home can be here to stay for many financial workers, to a greater or lesser extent. Reuters interviewed executives from 14 financial firms, including some of the world’s leading banks and asset management companies. Most said that while about 80% of their operating room staff were back in the office, flexible work was in place and employees spent a few days at home. Fear of getting lost On the surface, remote work has done well in industry. Deal turnover reached a record $ 2.4 trillion in the second half of 2020 according to Refinitiv data, while Goldman Sachs, Citigroup (NYSE 🙂 and many others reported stellar first-quarter earnings. But for the star rain producers and fund managers of tomorrow, the change is baffling. And top executives worry these young people will miss out on an important experience that could limit their careers or cause them to go to rivals. Traditionally, beginners learn on the job, observing agreements that are made and performing tasks under supervision. Industry events and client meetings, often in other global financial centers, offer networking opportunities. However, banks like HSBC and Standard Chartered (OTC 🙂 say they can dump up to 40% of their facilities. Drastic cuts in international travel are likely. Kunal Shah, Global Head of Emerging Markets Operations at Goldman Sachs, said that as trainees learned by doing tasks like compiling reports, booking completed trades or writing comments, senior traders were forced to withdraw many of those. responsibilities during closing. “It is much more difficult to ask the junior to help you with a task when you are sitting at home.” “We had to remind managers to put juniors in such situations so they can learn.” When lockdown restrictions were relaxed in Britain, many young traders wanted to go back to the office “because they learn from that culture of learning.” PRACTICALLY LEFT BEHIND A key concern is that screen sharing and video meetings, useful as they are, can be a poor substitute for in-person training, especially for those interested in a business career. “There is a reason the trading desks have evolved as a centralized hub at the heart of investment teams,” said Tom Stevenson, director of EMEA equity trading at Fidelity International. “You can’t get around the fact that doing it virtually might not be as productive as being all together physically.” JPMorgan’s (NYSE 🙂 committee for junior markets employee development has held video calls to allow trainees to chat with members of the global team, said Sophie Warrick, director of EMEA equity research and co-chair of the committee. Others, like UBS and Deutsche, are using a hybrid approach. In Hong Kong, the 49 UBS graduate fellows can mostly go to the office, but in many other centers around the world the training programs are virtual, according to Maria Chan, the bank’s Asia-Pacific human resources director. That could create a two-way system. Warrick said employers would have to wait and see how someone who had been trained virtually developed in their role, “without having had the in-person training that someone else has. At Goldman Sachs, according to Shah, managers tried to virtually replicate the vibe on the trading floor to the benefit of younger staff. “A lot of teams had a rolling Zoom in the sales and commercial teams where people just talked the same way they would if they were in the office,” he added. Some like Credit Suisse (SIX 🙂 hope more money will help; plans a $ 20,000 “lifestyle” allowance for junior members of its capital markets and business teams to keep morale up. BRIGHT MINDS, BIG PAY Despite the hardships of the pandemic, finance doesn’t want bright graduates. Demand for new talent at Britain’s banks is at its highest in years, according to figures compiled for Reuters by recruitment specialists Morgan McKinley and Vacancysoft. 429 internship openings were announced in the first three months of 2021, the highest quarterly number since early 2018, and roughly double the levels seen in 2019, before the pandemic hit, the study shows. Payment packages are part of the raffle. A UK-based investment banking intern can earn around 49,000 pounds ($ 68,000), rising to 200,000 pounds after a decade on a trading floor, according to Glassdoor, a website where users submit and view reports. wages anonymously. However, it has been more difficult to learn to drive. The forex trading leader of a global multinational company, who declined to be named, spoke of the need at work to “understand risks, manage risks and manage human behaviors.” “A recent graduate joined us just before the pandemic and we made it work, but do I think he has the full value of his graduate assignment after leaving college? No.” Financial companies also have a duty to ensure safeguarding the mental health of younger staff, in particular. The industry is under scrutiny following reports of overwork and burnout, underscored last month by a memorandum on the 95-hour workweeks endured by some junior Goldman employees in New York. Some beginners, who accept that a five-day office week may never come back, are getting creative. Patel and his Aberdeen colleagues use biweekly “lunch and learning” meetings to catch up with other hired graduates, the peers who will form the basis of their future professional networks. “You know, you can’t just go for coffee in the middle of the day if your boss lives 20 miles south of the office,” he said.