Why Wall Street Is Having Problems Working From Home

Much of the industry relies on in-person interactions

The exterior of the New York Stock Exchange
People pass the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on March 13, 2020 in New York City.
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty
By Bonnie Stiernberg / March 13, 2020 12:18 pm

For many businesses concerned about coronavirus, the solution is simply to ask their employees to work from home, but as a new Wall Street Journal piece points out, many in the finance world don’t have the ability to do deals remotely, and the industry has been struggling to adapt in these uncertain times.

As the Journal notes, it’s not just forgoing handshakes in meetings that’s complicating things. “Before closing on a large commercial purchase, for example, a real-estate investor must travel to the property they want to buy,” the publication points out. “An investment banker looking to underwrite a loan will visit with management and look over proprietary financial documents a company might be uncomfortable sharing electronically.”

For now, many companies are pressing on, with the caveat that employees returning from business trips to affected countries like China, Japan, South Korea and Italy must work remotely for 14 days after they get back. But some have taken to working remotely as a precaution, and it has made things awkward, according to at least one firm.

“Nobody knows what to do. It’s like the weirdest blind date and you’re not sure what they think about you,” Ion Pacific co-founder Michael Joseph told the Journal. “It’s Tinder gone bad.”

You can read more about the full extent of working from home on Wall Street here.

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