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#backtowork But is it Business as Usual?

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I still remember waking up to the Lockdown world in March, to be welcomed to the new reality by David Brear’s #TheBreakfastShow, now also available in the US. Thank God for those podcasts, things were looking tough back in March when all the Virus talk started. David’s cheery demeanour helped a lot in understanding that fintech was part of the economy that might just survive. Or, at least everything seemed to show this promise when “cashless society” and “UBI” became even stronger buzzwords than ever before.

This week was the big week, everyone was supposed to go back to work. Kids have gone back to school finally, fans in stadiums pilots have started in football (soccer for our US readers), business as usual.

Except that you’d be forgiven for thinking that things are not quite ‘business as usual’.

Some commentators on Twitter likened the “Rush hour” to a proverbial “Trickle hour”, and that is just one of the superlatives that one can notice on social media platforms trending over the last week.

Recently we covered a story about how the Central Bank of Japan was encouraging traders to work from their offices, about the same time as Boris was telling the UK working population to return to work.  

And, Jamie Dimon recently shared that he wants half his team back at work in New York as well, joining a small chorus of business leaders asking for their teams to come back to the office.

In a slightly confusing message yesterday, JPMorgan informed junior traders that the bank will not be covering the cost of UBER trips to the office any longer, hoping that employees will start using the NYC subway again. NYC might be trying, much like London, to entice workers back, but both cities are facing the imminent peril of a second lockdown which gives most employees a strong argument to wait and see what will unfold.

Deutsche Bank in New York showed a different approach to the anxiety of junior staff by telling all employees they can keep working at home until July 2021.

Maybe it wasn’t enough to hear the thoughts of our leaders on whether or not we should brave public transport and go to work. Yes, there’s cycle lanes popping up everywhere, but for now the bicycles are nowhere to be seen and it’s not because of the weather.

Since Brexit we’ve been subjected to stories about how banking jobs will be leaving the City and going to Dublin, Paris, Frankfurt and other European capitals. Then HSBC was in the news with talk of 35,000 jobs being cut, followed shortly by Deutsche Bank who are culling part of their US business anyway. And, just this week talk from Citi of up to 1% of their global workforce of 204,000 being cut, not to mention Wells Fargo’s cost-cutting exercises.

The news can be rather overwhelming when it comes to planning the next 12 months of anybody’s career at the moment, and banking is no exception.

Most of the banks are also recruiting at the same time, so its’ possible that these numbers over the years will not actually be as high as touted by some doomsayers. But in some cases like Commerzbank in Germany, there will probably need to be deeper cuts than in most cases with their branch network already down from 1200 to 1000 in 2020 and further cuts in process.

If you are in Switzerland, recent stories about UBS and Credit Suisse merging their operations might also be a sign of cost-cutting. ‘Project Signal’ is still in its’ pilot stage, but the story itself is so unusual that there may actually be some credence to it. At least 15,000 jobs would go as part of this merger, maybe even more.  

Of course, if you are in a finance function, a developer, a trader or any number of these #futurebankingcareers then you’re role is probably safe, or the banks are still recruiting. Might be harder if you are in a retail banking role with a number of branch closures happening across the country.

Which? has been tracking bank branch closures since 2015, and have shown 1000s of branch closures over the years. They published an updated report in August stating that between January 2019 and December 2020, Barclays has closed – or will close – the most branches (151) followed by Santander (142) and TSB (96). The biggest reduction in branches closed since 2015 were in the South East of England with 464 closed.

The other option is for bankers to consider moving abroad.

A few months ago we posted a story where Dublin, Frankfurt and Paris were listed as winners of banking jobs post-Brexit. Clearly Hong Kong is probably not on most bankers lists of places to move for work at the moment, but the other 3 Asian Tigers seem to be doing very well, apart from Singapore where life for an expat isn’t as rosy as it was. The Singapore government are moving towards helping locals rather than expats get ahead in the buzzing Asian city.

Back to Work is as confusing as ever, and Where to go Back to Work is just as hard to figure out too. Should we move to the country? Wait out what happens with the Pandemic? Plan to move to Amsterdam or South Korea?

We will try to keep showing our readers the options, but one thing is for sure… the local fintech market in Europe is also struggling.

With VC money tightening, McKinsey cited figures from Dealroom that make stark reading. Investment into fintechs in Europe dropped by 11% globally and 30% in Europe in the first half of 2020. And it hasn’t got any better in the second quarter yet, with even bigger drops in investment both expected and affecting many fintechs who were hoping to scale this year.

Author: Andy Samu

#backtowork #TheBreakfastShow #futurebankingcareers #DeutscheBank #CreditSuisse #UBS #Commerzbank #HSBC #Singapore #Citi #JPMorgan #WallStreet #CityofLondon