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Where Wall Street's mega banks stand on return-to-office policies

Late hours on Wall Street are part of industry lore, but in a post-pandemic world, banks are still hashing out official return-to-office policies.

Earlier this week, moves by Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to lift COVID protocols at their offices drew attention to the ambiguity around official RTO rules across financial institutions.

While messaging from the companies was shy of mandating a five-day-per-week return, lifting vaccine and testing requirements appears to be part of a broader effort to remove any remaining hurdles that might stop employees from full-time office attendance.

On Thursday, investment bank Jefferies took its language a step further, requesting everyone be back on-site on a “consistent basis.”

“We are not going to look at individual names on the turnstiles,” Chief Executive Officer Rich Handler and President Brian Friedman said in a memo to staff, though adding that staff’s regular presence is necessary to “truly maximize our fourth and final quarter and the future that is ahead.”

With summer ending, some companies have outlined more stringent policies, including tech giant Apple, which set a return-to-office deadline of September 5 for a return of at least three days per week.

And other names across Corporate America, particularly in the high-stakes banking industry, are poised to deliver stricter language about return-to-office expectations.

Here's where Wall Street's biggest names stand on RTO policies:

Goldman Sachs

Wall Street's premier investment bank has pushed for a full-scale office return since last year, according to sources within the company, but some teams have established their own rules around work-from-home policies.

The banking giant's Chief Executive Officer David Solomon has been a vocal critic of remote work.

“This is not ideal for us and it’s not a new normal,” he said at a Credit Suisse forum in February 2021. “It’s an aberration that we are going to correct as quickly as possible.”

David Solomon, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, speaks at the 2022 Milken Institute Global Conference, in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., May 2, 2022.  REUTERS/Mike Blake
David Solomon, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, speaks at the 2022 Milken Institute Global Conference, in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., May 2, 2022. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The memo from Goldman Sachs to staff earlier this week focuses said the following:

"Effective Tuesday, September 6, all Goldman Sachs colleagues can enter our Goldman Sachs offices in the Americas (except in New York City, which is detailed below, and Lima), regardless of vaccination status, with no requirement to participate in regular testing or wear face coverings. Please note, in New York City, all Goldman Sachs colleagues with an approved medical or religious exemption to the New York City vaccine mandate also can enter our offices with no requirement to participate in regular testing or wear face coverings. Those without an approved exemption and who do not meet the New York City vaccine mandate should continue to work remotely."

Jefferies Group

"As long as Covid continues to be manageable, we need everyone back in our offices on a consistent basis so we can truly maximize our fourth and final quarter and the future that is ahead," Chief Executive Officer Rich Handler and President Brian Friedman said Thursday in a note.

"We need our seniors in, so we can have motivated and impactful juniors. We are not going to look at individual names on the turnstiles and we have absolutely no issue when people need to utilize the hybrid solution. Let’s all just appreciate that together, rather than in lonely home silos, we can do our best to close out the year the right way"

Citigroup

"Most colleagues are expected to be in the office at least three days per week as part of a hybrid schedule," an insider at Citi told Yahoo Finance. "No recent changes here; this is consistent with the global work model that Jane Fraser announced in early 2021 that we’ve introduced as markets safely returned to office."

"This year, we did allow hybrid colleagues to work fully remotely for two weeks in August (in their country of employment). No testing or mask requirement onsite unless required by local law; we encourage colleagues to check their CDC local community levels for guidance on mask wearing."

"We are updating our health and safety guidance to reflect recent changes in CDC guidance. We continue to monitor cases with close contacts and are proactive in our health and safety guidance to ensure we keep our colleagues informed."

Morgan Stanley

The bank told New York employees last week in a memo that as of September 5, the company is set to suspend tests and control measures such as exposure notifications emails, Bloomberg News reported.

Morgan Stanley did not immediately respond to a request from Yahoo Finance for comment.

According to Bloomberg, the memo urged anyone who tests positive to isolate for at least five days and wear a mask for five more, while staffers who may have been exposed but do not test positive should mask for 10 days in the office but do not need to isolate.

An insider at Morgan Stanley told Yahoo Finance that pressure has been ramping up to be in the office at least four days per week across certain areas of the business.

JPMorgan

A representative for JPMorgan said the bank has followed the return-to-office policy outlined in its Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon's annual shareholder letter, published earlier this year.

In the letter Dimon wrote: "I believe our firm’s on-site versus remote work will sort out something like this:

  • Generally speaking, many employees (approximately 50%) will necessarily work at a location full time. That would include nearly all employees in our retail bank branches, as well as jobs in check processing, vaults, sales and trading, critical operations functions and facilities, amenities, security, medical and many others.

  • Some employees (approximately 40%) will work under a hybrid model (e.g., some days on-site and other days at home). Increased flexibility and hybrid working arrangements will vary by job type. We do hope to provide these types of arrangements where they are appropriate and for those who want them.

  • A small percentage of employees, possibly 10%, may work full-time from home in very specific roles."

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon speaks at the Boston College Chief Executives Club luncheon in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., November 23, 2021.    REUTERS/Brian Snyder
JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon speaks at the Boston College Chief Executives Club luncheon in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., November 23, 2021. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Deutsche Bank

A spokesperson at Deutsche Bank told Yahoo Finance the institution continues to implement the hybrid working model it put in place earlier this year.

"Our hybrid working model provides eligible employees the option to work remotely for a portion of their working time," Deutsche Bank said in a February statement. "Employees in scope can decide on a voluntary basis to work remotely up to 40-60% of their time based on their role, activity and country. To ensure effective planning and reporting, all remote working arrangements are agreed with managers and formally recorded and tracked in the bank’s HR system."

Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc

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