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How financial firms are navigating the future of work

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Yahoo Finance Live discusses American Express' new back-to-work program starting in January, and how other financial institutions are viewing return-to-work.

Video Transcript

BRIAN CHEUNG: Well, it is time for not my take, but the other Brian's takes, and we're still in our little Skype boxes here at Yahoo, but the banking industry has gained a reputation for being a bit ruthless and trying to pull people back to the office, but not all financial services companies are getting that reputation. Consider American Express, which, apparently, is starting an "Amex Flex" approach to hybrid work. Brian, give us the lowdown on what they're trying to pull off here.

BRIAN SOZZI: Yeah, Brian, I know you're a big fan of this name. "Amex Flex" sounds like something you would do at your local gym. But, anyway, the big takeaway here is that Amex will essentially let you work, if you work for them, if you're one of their 63,000 plus employees, work from anywhere. They've broken down their return-to-office plan, which will start in late January, into three buckets. On-site workers will be back in the office four to five days a week, limited to those roles that need to be in the office or workers who just want to be back in there full time. Hybrid workers will be in the office one to three days a week on average. And, of course, Amex giving employees the option to work virtually for however long they want, if that is what they want to do and that is what their team leader suggests.

Now, this new working model will go into effect on January 25 at the earliest, and, Brian, as you mentioned, you're right, it really goes against some of the other vibes out there on Wall Street, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs. Their respective CEOs have been demanding that workers get back in the office, get back to that office life. But, you know, we have seen Citigroup take a different approach under CEO Jane Fraser. I was reading a really good profile of Fraser in "Bloomberg Businessweek" recently, and she's saying she's letting employees make their own schedule, and she has not seen any hit to productivity. Now, also worth mentioning here, American Express CEO Stephen Squeri and Jane Fraser will be at our All Markets Summit conference next week-- I can't believe it's here already-- on Monday, October 25, and I'm sure we'll be talking about all these fun things with them.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Yeah, we had that full screen of the different types of tears, I guess. I think it would have been funny if they categorized them according to their credit card tiers as well. What is it, like, gold, platinum, and then black? I guess I wonder, though, at the same time, Amex is not beholden to the same types of business needs that, say, an investment banker would in terms of getting that face-to-face client interaction. I think that's a big reason why you see Goldman Sachs, those big deal-makers, if you will, really trying to pull people back to work, David Solomon, on the earnings call last week, even saying he was on the road while he was taking the call, trying to, I guess, flex on his own employees, saying, get back to the office, get back to those client-facing meetings. But I guess, what's your preference, Julie, I guess, if I could toss this to you. I know you have thoughts about the hybrid work environment. What's your preference, in terms of whether or not you want to have the five days full in the office or something in between there?

JULIE HYMAN: Listen, I think our Myles Udland, our one-time Myles Udland, put it best when he said, "Being in the office is best for the job, but it's worse for everything else." You know, in other words, things work better when you're in the office, when you can interact with other people, when you can have conversations, both incidental and deliberate, when you have the production quality, in our case, of being in an actual studio. But, lifestyle-wise, you've gotta commute. You know, the flow of life is different, and so that is more challenging. And I think, you know, it's just a matter of how you weight those things. If you feel like being in the office is more important-- You know, and we all-- Either way, you're gonna make sacrifices. I don't know. In other words, it's either a win-win or lose-lose. I mean, I don't know. There's no-- No, what I'm saying is it's not a win-win. Nothing is a win-win, is what I'm trying to say, in very poor fashion.

BRIAN CHEUNG: No one ever wins!

BRIAN SOZZI: Give me my second monitor. I want to be back in the office. I want to see you both.

BRIAN CHEUNG: You don't have one, Brian?

BRIAN SOZZI: Let me just quickly mention, though, Google, Sundar Pichai, speaking at a "Wall Street Journal" conference yesterday, noting occupancy rates in New York City, in their New York City offices, 50%. So workers, clearly, are back there at Google, to some extent.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Yeah, well, we'll see about that. I mean, Julie, you're in New Jersey. Your commuting lifestyle is going to be very different. You're talking to a guy who's actually going to be moving closer to work, so I think it all depends on where your lifestyle set-up--