Sunday, January 16

Wall Street Coders Are Gaining More Job Freedom Than Bankers


When top brass at Goldman Sachs Group sounded the alarm of a return to office life before the pandemic, a group of workers were reassured that they could retain some of their prized flexibility.

Coders at the Wall Street company can continue to work from home two days a week, according to people briefed on the company’s plans. They are not alone. Across all financial services, software engineers who have been at the center of talent wars are gaining more freedom than the bankers they work with.

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Wells Fargo & Co told employees last month that working from home will be limited to two days a week for many functions, but said it would make an exception for most of its technology equipment. Citigroup attributes some of its recent victories in technology contracting to the company’s increased flexibility around remote working.

Other lenders, including Barclays, have also made clear that some roles would get more flexibility and the bank would leave the details of its hybrid approaches to managers. The British bank will give up its second office in the Canary Wharf financial district in London.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach,” Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley said recently.

These divergent approaches are gaining more and more acceptance. The spread of Covid-19 variants has forced many financial firms to delay their return-to-office plans. Even if the virus recedes, the wide range of functions within banks means that it will be difficult to implement a consistent policy across functions and regions.

A Goldman spokesman declined to comment.

Strong hand

Shy engineers in the office have long enjoyed special treatment. During the dot-com boom, Goldman added foosball tables to its former New York headquarters in an attempt to present a more attractive workplace for its engineering talents.

Coders today have an even stronger bargaining hand. Tech companies are booming and many have made working from home an integral part of their new normal. Fintechs and companies like Alphabet are targeting people with in-depth knowledge of financial services products as they seek to develop expertise in the space.

Software has become an important part of the big bank business, from replacing branches with digital retail offerings to moving large swaths from fixed income markets to e-commerce. JPMorgan Chase & Co. spends more than $ 10 billion a year on technology, while HSBC Holdings said its technology spending rose to $ 3 billion in the first half of this year.

Less inconvenience

The downsides of granting flexibility are not as pronounced as in other parts of your business. Software engineers rarely have to deal directly with company customers and are used to working on projects from anywhere.

“Anyway, programmers are introverts by nature,” Jason Kennedy, chief executive of the UK-based recruiting firm Kennedy Group, said in an interview. Flexibility “minimizes the risk of losing people, because those who don’t want to work in a crowded place don’t have to.”

Under new CEO Jane Fraser, Citigroup has promised that most employees will be able to work from home at least part of the week permanently, a more flexible approach to office life than many of their peers on Wall Street. That helped the lender in its ongoing battle for tech talent.

“In some ways, recruiting has become more difficult and in other ways it has become easier,” Stuart Riley, who oversees operations and technology for Citigroup’s group of institutional clients. “One of the reasons someone would have gone to a big tech company is that, in general, there was a little more flexibility. Citi has caught up on that. ”

Still, even the most flexible banks will have a hard time matching the tone of some rivals. British fintech Revolut offers all employees the flexibility to work from home or the office. Staff can also work abroad for up to two months a year.

© 2021 Bloomberg


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