Bankers Will Work From Home More After Crisis


Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, reckons 10-20 percent of its working hours will be done from home following the coronavirus crisis, its chief executive said Saturday.

Looking ahead to how banking will emerge from the pandemic, Thomas Gottstein said COVID-19 had triggered a big “boost” in online transactions, further reducing the importance of traditional bank branches.

“On average, our employees will probably work more from home in the future. Initial estimates go towards 10 to 20 percent of working time,” he told the Neue Zurcher Zeitung newspaper.

Reduced office space is “likely to be a consequence” for the whole services sector, he said.

More than 90 percent of Credit Suisse staff have been working from home during the crisis.

“In the medium term, we will certainly be able to cope with fewer staff — especially because we will continue to automate the business,” Gottstein said.

“The importance of branches and their number will therefore continue to decline,” he said.

Gottstein said Credit Suisse had been criticised for keeping glass panes at their counters, but not only had they “deterred bank robbers”, the bank had been able to keep more branches open during the pandemic.

Post-crisis, Gottstein predicted a world with less travel as “companies have noticed how well videoconferencing works” — though he stressed that personal relationships would remain “a part of banking”.

There was a “great deal” to learn from smartphone-based banks in providing services digitally in the “simplest, quickest and most convenient way possible”, he added.

Gottstein said the COVID-19 crisis “has helped the reputation of the banks, because they are part of the solution, not the problem.

“Moreover, banks are in a much more robust state than they were during the 2008 financial crisis. All of this makes me optimistic.”

Gottstein took charge of Credit Suisse in February following the ousting of Tidjane Thiam over a massive spying scandal.

The scandal broke last September, with the discovery that surveillance had been ordered on Iqbal Khan, a star banker and former wealth management chief who jumped ship to competitor UBS.

An initial investigation blamed former chief operating officer Pierre-Olivier Boueeober, but found no indication that other top brass, including Thiam, were aware.

Thiam was forced to resign in February, but walked away with nearly $11 million in pay and bonuses.

“I can very well imagine staying for a few years. I’m a team player and I don’t believe in the star banker cult,” said Gottstein.





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