Three quarters of investment banks plan to permanently overhaul their business to allow employees to work from home – the largest of any group in the financial sector – as the pandemic forces companies to radically change the way they work.

The proportion of investment banks preparing to allow staff to work remotely for at least part of the time rose from 42% in June to 75% in September, according to a survey of 250 financial services organizations by the technology company FIS, which owns Worldpay and works with companies in the sector.

“For the financial companies in the City, we are well past the point where businesses will simply go back to where they were in February,” said Nasser Khodri, group president, sell-side capital markets at FIS. “The pandemic has forced a serious examination of how banks operate and has revealed a number of efficiencies and improvements that can be made to the model.”

The survey, conducted in September, also showed that asset management firms were increasingly willing to let their staff work from home permanently – with 62% of industry respondents saying they would make the switch, against 35% in June.

City investment banks were forced to cancel plans to bring more staff back to the office after the government announced a new nationwide lockdown in England on October 31, with Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Citigroup among the banks to send employees home.

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However, in recent weeks, some companies have increasingly signaled that working from home could become a permanent fixture. Standard Chartered has unveiled ambitious plans to offer 75,000 employees flexible working by 2023.

The UK-based lender aims to offer up to 90% of its employees the opportunity to work in a “hybrid” model, the bank announced on November 5. While this will likely involve a work-from-home element, Standard Chartered also said it would offer “near-office” and “near-home” premises for employees to increase flexibility.

HSBC Chief Financial Officer Ewen Stevenson also said during the bank’s third-quarter results that it was considering the majority of its employees under a “hybrid” work model, while Deutsche Bank was also considering the same move for the staff as part of a new attempt to cut costs. .

52% of investment banks surveyed by FIS said they were looking to reduce office space as a result of the pandemic, and around 47% of total respondents said they were offering flexible working to achieve “substantial” cost savings.

“The pandemic has provided massive and unforeseen experience in different working arrangements,” Khondi said. “As leaders examine the data learned in this time, it is evident that many employees are happier and more productive working from home part-time or full-time.

“Until offices go away completely, banks will give their teams greater flexibility to improve employee retention and save money in the future.”

However, as investment banks have kept most staff at home during the pandemic, there has been pressure to bring frontline staff into the office. Investment bankers have been pushing to return to office, despite a new lockdown across England unveiled by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that will last until December 2, senior dealmakers have said. Financial news previously.

The director of a US investment bank added that the focus is less on getting back to the office now and more on a desire to increase contact with clients. “We’ve come this far through the pandemic thanks to the relationships we’ve built, but it’s much harder to build business from scratch. We’re hearing it from customers too – there’s a desire to reconnect with people, they crave that interaction beyond a Zoom screen.

READ Standard Chartered offers permanent flexible working to 75,000 employees

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