The Delta Variant Upends Wall Street’s Office Return

The Delta Variant Upends Wall Street’s Office Return
TradeGM Analysis date_range August 17th, 2021

Despite the Delta variant rampaging across the globe, many of Wall Street’s largest banks are moving forward with their office return. Public health officials have issued warnings about just how aggressive the Delta variant is, causing concern among employees.

A number of vaccinated professionals are concerned about contracting the virus after a day in the office and, in turn, giving it to unvaccinated children. Pressure is mounting for large firms to rethink their decision, but not all are taking heed of the advice.

Wall Street’s Confusion

Late on Monday, Morgan Stanley’s HR office contacted the 14th-floor employees of its Times Square headquarters – two vaccinated workers had tested positive for COVID-19. The memo meant that all employees from that floor should stay home until the office was sterilised. However, not everyone got the message, which meant multiple staff members showed up on Tuesday morning.

This episode led to great confusion among staff. Other members asked if masks would now be mandatory, to which the response was no since anyone entering the building had to be vaccinated.

However, the Delta variant has demonstrated its ability to jump from one vaccinated person to another, proving that alternative measures need to be introduced. This is causing Wall Street’s biggest firm to diverge.

Wall Street’s Division

Two views are currently reflected on Wall Street. On the one hand, there are those who feel there is no need to rush back to the office since Wall Streeters have already proved they can earn large profits working from home. However, within the upper ranks, some people feel traders and investors ought to be in an environment where they can communicate with one another.

“This is an industry where the magic and the energy happens in the office, it happens on the trading floor, it happens in that interface with customers,” said Rose Gailey of Heidrick & Struggles.

Reportedly, Wells Fargo & Co and BlackRock Inc are delaying their return to office date until October 2021. Citigroup Inc and Jefferies Financial Group Inc are making similar moves after the Delta variant warnings. Citigroup Inc has even reinstated a mask mandate for its US employees, asking them to wear masks when moving around the office. And Jefferies Financial Group has asked all employees to come back when vaccinated. The firm lost its CFO to COVID-19 complications during the pandemic.

In opposition, however, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co are encouraging their employees to return. “This branch has to be staffed,” says JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. “The Zoom land, Zoom world, does not work as well for apprenticeships, for teaching, for creative combustion, for management, for idea generation, for learning a lot. It just doesn’t.”

Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman expects staff to be back by Labor Day in September. “If you want to get paid New York rates, you work in New York, none of this ‘I’m in Colorado, working in New York and getting paid like I’m sitting in New York City,” Gorman said. “Sorry, that doesn’t work.”

Next Move

The next move of these financial institutions remains to be seen. However, one thing’s for sure – it’s causing mixed feelings among employees who feel as though their safety does not come first.

“By making us come back to the office, you are essentially putting our families and children at risk,” said an employee at a financial services company.

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CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75.42% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money. X