Morgan Stanley boss tells US staff to be back in office in September

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Aaron P Bernstein/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Aaron P Bernstein/Reuters

The chief executive of Morgan Stanley has become the latest US banking boss to call for an end to remote working, telling his New York staff that anyone who feels safe going out to a restaurant should return to the office.

James Gorman admitted that the bank would take a different approach in countries such as India or the UK – where fewer than 25% of its 5,000 London staff have been going to work in person – due to stricter Covid restrictions.

However, in the US, where nearly 90% of staff in its New York headquarters had been vaccinated, the chief executive said he was issuing a “very strong” message to staff to get back to their desks by Labor Day on 6 September.

James Gorman
James Gorman, the Morgan Stanley chief executive, said the firm would take a different approach to workers outside the US. Photograph: AP

“If you can go to a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office. And we want you in the office,” Gorman said during a financial services conference organised by the bank on Monday.

“Make no mistake about it: we do our work inside Morgan Stanley offices. And that’s where we teach, that’s where our interns learn, that’s how we develop people,” the chief executive added. “That’s where you build all the soft cues that go with having a successful career that aren’t just about Zoom presentations.”

He also said bankers could not expect large paycheques if they worked away from Wall Street. “If you want to get paid New York rates, you work in New York. None of this: ‘I’m in Colorado … and getting paid like I’m sitting in New York City.’ Sorry, that doesn’t work.”

The executive claimed he was not “dictating” a return to office, in contrast to Goldman Sachs, which required US staff to return to their desks on Monday. “But [on] Labor Day, I’ll be very disappointed if people haven’t found their way into the office,” Gorman said. “Then we’ll have a different kind of conversation.”

Morgan Stanley’s chief executive is the latest US banking boss to hit out at remote working, which has left white-collar workers running some of the world’s largest businesses from their kitchen tables.

The Goldman Sachs chief executive, David Solomon, made waves after he called remote working an “aberration”, while JP Morgan’s boss, Jamie Dimon, said it was poor practice for new and younger staff, as well as employees who wanted “to hustle” – suggesting promotions might be harder to clinch for staff who worked from home.

A number of European banks, including UK lenders that are more focused on high-street banking, have offered more flexible arrangements for staff. NatWest Group has said it expects just 13% of its 64,000 employees to work from the office full-time. Meanwhile, HSBC is planning for thousands of its staff to work remotely long-term and expects to cut its global office footprint by 40% as a result.

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