100% Remote Work in Investment Bank - Is It Possible?

Thanks to COVID, we understood that it is possible to work several months from home. In my opinion, it is much more comfortable:
1) you do not see your seniors = there are much fewer minor ASAP tasks
2) you do not waste time on the road to the office and you spend less time dressing working in a T-Shirt when there are no Zoom meetings
3) you spend more time in the zone of comfort = it is much better for mental health

More than that, you understand, that you need to finish all the tasks and you will have free time during a workday- there are no people who see you doing nothing. It makes you much more efficient.

The question is if it could last forever and change the industry's paradigm. I have searched if any bank started work fully remotely and found nothing. there are no banks / boutiques that decided to work remotely forever. Of course, some banks give you to work a couple of days per week from home, however as for me, it is not a significant shift from 2019.

I have found only an article on Grit Daily about ArieGuard that provides full flexibility regarding working hours and office attendance. In particular, it states that "it does not matter whether you work from office or from home – you just have to do your job perfectly". I absolutely agree with this approach. 

What do you think? Is it possible to break the system and always work in IB remotely, but efficiently? Do you know any other successful examples?

Comments (40)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 30, 2021 - 2:13pm

Yes, it's 100% possible and should be the norm. You should still be located in the same city for meetings and such but no reason for us to live like this. Life is short, let's try to salvage what we can of having a happy life in this industry. My quality of life improved dramatically since being work from home. Sure, workload went up, but I also didn't CONSTANTLY feel "on the clock" or needing to dress and be a certain way.

There's also a lot of luxuries that you have at home that you likely take for granted and won't realize until being in an office.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 30, 2021 - 3:43pm

Opposite of this is true. Far more likely to push through tasks early on in the day knowing I'll have free time later on or can even take a longer break mid-afternoon. In the office that becomes not possible.

Nov 30, 2021 - 4:11pm

Exactly,  If I know I have to sit at my desk till dinner then I Am not going to do tasks until dinner,  If I can go get a run in,  Then I am going to finish the work and go for my run with comments and emails waiting when I get back.  

  • VP in RE - Comm
Dec 1, 2021 - 3:28pm

egrushanskaya

Might hurt effectiveness though…procrastination is a bitch

Actually when WFH started many people thought this too be the case, but it was actually widely proven wrong. If I can find the article I will post it, but when going to the office, people spent wasted hours dressing up and commuting. There was also wasted time when chatting with employees, going out for lunch, etc. In comparison, yes there may be some level of procrastination, but the majority are actually working more productively because if there is a task at hand, they will try and finish it right away instead of sitting on it in the office and pretending to be busy. For me, I immediately move quickly to finish tasks because then it gives me flexibility later in the day where I can do personal errands. Whereas in the office, I am there for 8-10 hours no matter what so I dont have flexibility to run personal errands. I also save hours in commute and lunch as I often eat while working.

Most Helpful
Nov 30, 2021 - 3:52pm

I left banking in 2017 but I would think there would be pros and cons.

Biggest benefit: I remember some days just jerking around during the day waiting for comments and feedback to come back. I felt like I could go hit the gym or do something more productive but felt like that wasn't possible given my need to show face. I believe working from home now allows you to take advantage of that time to help find some balance between your personal and professional life.

Biggest Disadvantage: I feel like most people in banking are high performers and will get their shit done regardless. I always found the social aspect of banking to be critical for sanity... eating lunch with your coworkers or just shooting the shit when everyone is waiting for comments. I would imagine that you definitely lose that working from home. 

I agree with one of the posts here where being in the same city as office would be great. I currently work in a hybrid model where I come in 2 or so times a week for a strategy role and I love it!

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Nov 30, 2021 - 4:15pm

As an analyst that does not work in the main office of my bank, but visits a few times a year.  I would say that the social aspect is actually makes the job much more enjoyable.  

Nov 30, 2021 - 4:06pm

I think you are right from a efficiency / less nonsense standpoint, but I do think facetime is being underrated as people increasingly embrace remote work - and the younger you are, the more important it is. Helps you truly understand and improve at your job + network and build relationships w people that'll go to bat for you in the future. If you value culture (the longer I've worked, the more I do) some face time is important. There's +/- to both sides, and like many, I think a hybrid approach is the ideal

FYI I have not worked in IB but think what I'm saying applies to most all finance jobs

 

 

 

 

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 30, 2021 - 4:09pm

mrdistatty

network and build relationships w people that'll go to bat for you in the future. If you value culture (the longer I've worked, the more I do) some face time is important.

C'mon you know this is BS especially in today's world.

  • VP in IB - Cov
Dec 2, 2021 - 2:51pm

Disagree. The quality of relationship I have with partners at my firm in-office is 3 notches above the quality of relationships I have with partners in other firms. There are bankers I closed deals with and love working with that I have never met in person.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 30, 2021 - 4:10pm

One underrated aspect is also having the senior people physically see you in the office, grinding away. In a remote environment, they shoot out an email asking you to do something and then get pissed when it's not done yet. I think being in-person gives them the opportunity for some compassion. If you have a psycho VP or MD that doesn't give a shit then you're SOL either way.

  • Analyst 3+ in IB-M&A
Dec 1, 2021 - 4:29am

This is the way. A big part of the humanity in the grind is lost when seniors can't see the bags under your eyes or the stressed demeanor. It's natural to see a kid like that and say "how can I help?" or at the least "sorry for these late comments". That dynamic is 100% lost via email especially because boomers can't read tone at all

  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Nov 30, 2021 - 5:23pm

There are a handful of small boutiques doing fully remote work, I get emails recruiting for them all the time. Big Path Capital is an interesting example - they were fully remote well before Covid, and they've been on some solid impact-focused deals. 

The trade off though is that working 80 hours a week or until 2/3am from your home office is pretty depressing. WFH is awesome when you're free during the day, but when you're busy it's awful. 

Jan 24, 2022 - 5:18pm

Hit it right on the head with this one

I think I did this right

  • Associate 1 in IB - Restr
Nov 30, 2021 - 10:59pm

I think that hybrid is the right call and it should be flexible...if someone doesn't feel like coming in on any given day, they shouldn't have to.  The only reason that WFH shouldn't be the default is for the sake of AN1s getting up to speed.  Was in office for the first ~9 months of my career and the learning curve is easier to ramp up when you're around good Assocs/VPs.  That said, I get no benefit from going to the office anymore other than shooting the shit and grabbing meals w/ the pen.  Having different folks intermittently in the office for the first 6-9 months that the AN1s hit the desk is good for the group - they'll become useful more quickly. 

That said, and this won't happen, but would be great if MDs never came to the office again. Their presence isn't useful to junior banker growth and I can't watch games on my screens, gamble w/ others in the pen, or go for an hour+ lunch when things are slow if they're in the office.  Much as I hate being in office, it's worth being in Tues-Thurs solely to help get the AN1s up to speed more quickly...even though I'm marginally more efficient when WFH and don't have to pretend to look busy (although I've mostly given up on this anyhow) or waste time getting ready and driving into the office.  

  • Associate 2 in IB - Cov
Dec 1, 2021 - 12:16pm

Agree that hybrid is the way to go. I come in 3-4 days a week to keep my sanity. 

It was brutal getting new analysts up to speed when we were fully remote and I'm sure it sucked to be in their shoes. We don't force our AN1's to come in everyday but highly recommend they come in Mon-Thurs to build better relationships with the bullpen and gain some trust / "face-time" with VP+. It's a much better culture now because you can take those 8-10am calls from home then come in after without any issues versus pre-covid waking up extra early to make sure you made it into the office to sit in your VPs office for the call. 

Dec 2, 2021 - 9:56am

Fully agree with this. So much easier for the new folks to get up to speed coming into the office, but WFH can be great for productivity too. Hybrid is the way to go IMO, obviously this forum is pro-WFH but there are pros and cons for sure and there needs to be a happy medium between what's going on now and what went on pre-covid.

In my group (MM), there is no formal policy right now so people are doing whatever. There is a very high correlation between those who choose to WFH and the slackers of the group. Adding some element of FaceTime, even if it's M-TH from 10-6, will make things more fair for everyone and it'll be easier to identify the dead weight.

Pre covid I heard stories of MDs walking around the bullpen on Friday nights/Sundays and staffing folks who weren't around. Praying to god these days are long behind us.

My prediction, and hope, is banks will implement a semi-firm policy of M-TH 10-6 in the office, with friday a WFH day. However there will be flexibility to WFH if someone has a rough night or has a window to leave early in the evening. This will be tough to enforce but probably gets the best of both worlds in terms of productivity.

I don't understand folks who say complete WFH is better for mental health - wasn't everyone saying the complete opposite a year ago? Commuting, seeing acquaintances, getting to know teammates, grabbing coffee, etc is imperative for my mental sanity, can't imagine grinding in a cramped apartment 5 days per week.

Dec 1, 2021 - 12:38am

Yup - record revenues happened during it too. It's a new age and bankers shouldn't have to be stuck in the office doing busy work or pretending to be busy when they can work at home and be happier. 

Dec 2, 2021 - 9:47pm

Its not better for mental health, I've been at a steady 80 hours a week for the past two months and when you spend the whole week in your tiny NYC apartment with no time for social life (like I did when I got a cold) you start feeling pretty shitty in no time. I think I am probably more productive in the office and its crucial for office politics and building relationships. I hear my MDs complaining about certain analysts who don't go in behind their backs ("I just don't understand why anyone wouldn't come in when the rest of the team is here") which is totally banker BS but its worth noting if you care about top bucket. Also most groups in banking are pretty social, being in the office isn't all bad at all imo and you'll definitely make some friends. The hours definitely go by faster in the office for me.

Hybrid is the way to do it, I don't want to be in the office on Fridays and sometimes when you have a late night its great to WFH and get some extra sleep. I go in about 3 days a week but I'm lucky that my firm still has total flexibility on working from home, I can literally decide in the morning I'm not feeling it and sometimes I stay home but pop in to the office for an hour in the afternoon if I need to do something there (perks of living in midtown). And also nobody stays really late any more, after dinner we usually pack up and do the late night work at home. Unfortunately pretty soon we are going back but like I said I'm not dreading it and I think there will still be a little WFH. 

Dec 4, 2021 - 10:23am

It is totally possible.

Like everyone else, my firm went remote in March of 2020.  Since then, all but 1 MD and all of the VPs moved out of NYC - and the 1 MD who is in NYC is only based here 50% of the time.

I go into the office maybe 5% of the time (1 day in 20) - only when:

  • The MD who's 50% in NY is in, AND
  • We have at least 1-2 other people in, AND
  • There are meetings scheduled that are helpful to have in person, AND
  • I'm not drowning in other work that being around people would distract me from doing (I actually love my team, but especially now where we're rarely in the office, we're prone to waste hours bullshitting with each other when we see each other in person).

The exception to the combination of conditions above is for the summer interns.  For my team's interns, I would come in at least 1-2 times a week for them, and more if they requested it (other than the 3 weeks I spent working outside NYC over the summer).  There is a huge learning advantage to being in person.

Aside from that, working from home is the best.  It's significantly less stressful.  I don't need to spend $18 on getting lunch with people.  I have all of my creature comforts of being at home - including a work rig better than the one I have at the office.  I also instant message my team constantly throughout the day.  I'm probably closer with my MDs by working from home and trading memes all day than I would be if we were all in the office pre-covid (sans memes).

Dec 13, 2021 - 12:40pm

I'm at a boutique that specializes in ECM.

They haven't indicated how remote will look in the long term, but, given that they've been hiring senior people outside of NY who have families / ties elsewhere and likely will never move here, I think they'll allow some degree of remote going forward.

I'm probably going to base my decision on whether or not I stay in NYC and try to come into the office more next year or if I move to another city on comp for this year... having those conversations now and will see where it all lands.

Jan 24, 2022 - 5:21pm

Totally possible, but hybrid will be best. Sometimes you just need to all be in the same room together. It allows people to get to know each other and chit chat. I'm much more prone to prioritizing people that I know than I am to a random email from a random product team analysts.

Plus, I'm much more efficient in the office. At home I can take a nap or put on the TV. In the office, My screens face into my MDs glass walled office. Gotta be productive in that situation

I think I did this right

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jan 24, 2022 - 10:58pm

Having your screen face their glass walled office sounds awful...also I'm pretty sure most saying fully WFH on here still mean the occasional in-person weekly meeting or whatever but no reason for everyone to come in even 10-6pm tue-thurs if people are getting work done c'mon

Jan 24, 2022 - 11:24pm

It's not great but I just use my phone. You make some great points. Personally, I like the structure of going into the office and the routine. I know it doesn't work for everyone, but it's how I work best. I struggle to stay disciplined at home. I'm quite jealous of those who can

I think I did this right

Jan 24, 2022 - 9:58pm

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