Credit Suisse Hopes to Bring Workers Back as Fatigue Mounts

Credit Suisse Group AG is worried its workers are burning out as they enter a second year of largely working from home.

The Swiss bank is hoping it can soon begin to bring some employees back into the office, at least part of the time, to help them avoid fatigue that comes with working from home, according to Brian Chin, who leads the firm’s trading and investment-banking arm. Chin spoke from the firm’s offices in New York at a virtual investor conference hosted by the Zurich-based bank.

Credit Suisse Hopes to Bring Workers Back as Fatigue Mounts

“I do worry about our people,” Chin said. “People are having a bit of fatigue over this set-up, and not being able to see colleagues and actually see clients.”

The world’s largest banks sent workers home in droves early last year to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. Efforts to bring them back late last year were stymied by a resurgence of the virus.

“There’s only so many Zoom calls you can do with people,” Chin said.

On Wall Street, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co, and Citigroup Inc. have all participated in discussions with the New York state government to help speed up vaccination rollout. After nearly a year of grappling with security issues for traders and pitching for M&A deals over video, the banks are antsy to get their employees back into the office.

“This is not ideal for us and it’s not the new normal,” Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Office David Solomon said at the same Credit Suisse investor conference. Working from home is detrimental to inducting new hires to the company, the CEO said.

It’s a sentiment echoed across the world’s biggest banks. Last fall, UBS Group AG’s former chief executive officer called the practice of home-working unsustainable. JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon said he sees prolonged remote work inflicting serious social and economic damage.

Profits Despite

Yet, Wall Street firms achieved record-breaking profits last year, even as executives complained about the detrimental effects the pandemic has had to their business practices and work culture. They’ve benefited from pandemic-induced trading volatility, booming stock markets, and a rebound in initial public offerings.

At Credit Suisse, Chin’s division stayed busy throughout 2020, raking in $10.2 billion, a 19% increase from a year earlier, as the pandemic sparked an increase in trading volatility and a surge in capital-markets activity.

Credit Suisse said it took home the top ranking in underwriting initial public offerings globally, a business that’s been helped by a flurry of blank-check companies looking to go public in recent months.

A record 248 such firms went public on U.S. exchanges last year, raising more than $83 billion. This year is already on pace to set another record, with more than 150 SPACs raising more than $50 billion in public offerings.

“It’s probably not sustainable at these levels in the longer term,” Chin warned. “But I think they’re here and they’re here to stay.”

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