BTG Pactual Plots Full Return to Office by End of 2021, CEO Says

Banco BTG Pactual SA is betting its workers will flock back to the office, just as soon as Brazil manages to get the spread of Covid-19 in check.

Like Goldman Sachs Group Inc., BTG plans to require almost all its staff to return to their desks, according to Chief Executive Officer Roberto Sallouti. Unlike Goldman, which has already recalled its U.S. employees, Sao Paulo-based BTG is bound to wait a while longer: Brazil has fully immunized just 12% of its population against Covid-19, compared with roughly 46% in the U.S.

“Hopefully by the fourth quarter we can have everybody back to the office” as the pace of vaccinations picks up in Brazil, Sallouti said in an interview. “I don’t think we will even need to ask. Everybody wants to come back; we’re the ones prohibiting people from returning.”

BTG currently has only 15% of its roughly 3,800 employees working in the office, Sallouti said. The bank’s staff jumped nearly 50% since 2019, as BTG went on a hiring spree to support its digital retail-banking expansion.

If BTG is mirroring Goldman Sachs, rival Itau Unibanco Holding SA is following a similar path to Citigroup Inc. Like Citi, Itau is looking to adopt a hybrid model between office and remote work for the majority of its administrative staff, Bloomberg News reported in March.

Brazilian banks’ plans hinge on the country getting the spread of Covid-19 under control while speeding up vaccinations. Brazil is home to the world’s second most lethal virus outbreak in the world, with more than 510,000 dead. The daily infection rate recently breached a record of 115,228 new cases.

“We see remote working as a tool, one we can use to increase diversity, flexibility and attract talent outside Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro,” Sallouti said. “But it’s not an end in itself.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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