What You Need to Know
- Fewer than 30% of financial-services workers in Manhattan have returned to the office, according to an August survey.
- Still, Legions of Citigroup and Bank of America employees will return to their desks this month, joining peers at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs.
- Wall Street’s five largest banks aim to stick by plans to open buildings to more staff, but several smaller rivals have decided to balk.
Masks are back at Citigroup, and Bank of America workers still have to keep their distance in conference rooms. At JPMorgan, investment bankers and traders can no longer blow off steam at the nearby Monkey Bar – the tony restaurant in midtown Manhattan that closed during the pandemic.
Wall Street is back, just not the way industry executives had hoped.
For months, top bankers had been pointing to the week after Monday’s U.S. Labor Day holiday as a marker for corporate America’s long-awaited return to normal. But the delta variant upended that plan, and many large companies have delayed their comeback entirely.
Wall Street, on the other hand, is still limping ahead — largely vaccinated and mostly masked.
Banking executives aren’t giving up on the idea of a widespread return to the office even as their peers at other major corporations, from Apple Inc. to Amazon.com Inc. to Ford Motor Co., have said workers don’t have to come back until next year, and even then it won’t be every day.
“The early optimism that there would be a quick return to normalcy after the summer seemingly has been derailed by Delta,” Jefferies Financial Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Rich Handler and President Brian Friedman wrote in a memo to staff this month. “While we greatly hope some of you will be working in the office in September with the goal of being at some reasonable critical mass in October, we will continue to closely monitor all the data and transparently share our thoughts with you as this develops.”
Fewer than 30% of financial-services workers in Manhattan have returned to the office, according to an August survey by the Partnership for New York City. For the city as a whole, employers have scaled back their expectations for a post-summer return: They now see 41% of office workers returning by the end of this month; in May that figure was higher than 60%.
BofA, Citi Plans
Even so, legions of Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. employees will return to their desks this month, joining peers at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. who have been back for weeks.
Investment bankers are also getting back in the skies and out on the road, meeting with clients amid record deal flow. Traders, too, are looking to return, especially after the summer doldrums set in in recent weeks. Getting back to the trading floor could help on slower days, as water-cooler chat generates investing ideas.