Bank: despite the bonuses, the pandemic spoils the holidays

Posted on Dec 16, 2019 2021 at 18:11

The party is over. Before she had even really started. On Wall Street as in Paris or the City, cancellations of traditional “Christmas parties” are increasing, while the coronavirus epidemic has regained strength around the world, helped by the new Omicron variant.

In the Parisian headquarters of French banks, any festive gathering has been banned, while the number of contaminations has skyrocketed in recent weeks. “All events, whether internal or with clients, have been transformed into a digital version,” comments the spokesperson for a mutual institution. “There will be no celebration organized in the company”, confirms one on the side of Societe Generale, where one even advises to limit the gatherings outside to 20 people, and preferably seated.

Cancellations of “Christmas parties”

While the holidays arrive, the teleworking rules, already in force for several months in the various French banks (at a rate of 2 to 3 days per week), have not yet been strengthened at this stage. At Societe Generale, we only offered one additional day of teleworking in December to employees, to “consume” before this Friday.

In New York, Goldman Sachs has just ordered its teams to cancel any dinner or festive event planned in the coming days. A turning point for the investment bank, which has always pleaded, after the first confinements of 2020, for the greatest possible return to “normal life”, encouraging its bankers to work at the office rather than at home. But the health situation quickly deteriorated on the other side of the Atlantic, forcing the bank to adopt stricter rules.

At Morgan Stanley as at JPMorgan, events have also been canceled, while others are in a much smaller committee than expected. Bars rented by some banks to celebrate Christmas are found half full, with excess food and alcohol, reports the “Financial Times”.

Bonuses to spend

Gone are the exuberant 2000s New York holiday season, when champagne flowed, star chefs took care of menus, and celebrities mingled with investment bankers to celebrate the end of the year. – and the prospect of bonuses that traditionally goes with it.

Bankers, however, have much to celebrate: they are on the way to concluding a record year in terms of activity and profits. In investment banking, commissions are close to $ 150 billion. Enough to ensure bonuses at record levels since the financial crisis.

The employees of the big banks would have gladly celebrated the end of this extraordinary year, and rather trying in terms of pace of work. But they admit to being resigned. “I would love to be able to celebrate such a successful year with the people I share the majority of my time with. It will not be for this year yet ”, regrets a trader questioned by the“ FT ”.

The return of teleworking

In London too, austerity is required. JP Morgan preferred to cancel its traditional end-of-year concert, organized in its offices on the banks of the Thames, and which usually brings together hundreds of bankers and clients. HSBC also called on its employees to limit the celebrations, like other financial groups based in the British capital, where bars and restaurants are suffering from the defection of these generous customers.

These restrictions on the festivities are accompanied by a resurgence of teleworking. In the City, the streets have again emptied as major international banks like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered and JP Morgan have advised their employees to work remotely if possible. Only traders are still allowed to come to trading rooms on a regular basis. The offices nevertheless remain open.

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