Goldman, NYSE See New York Staffing Staying Stable Until Vaccine

The heads ofGoldman Sachs Group Inc. and theNew York Stock Exchange expect staffing levels in their New York offices to stay at roughly their current levels until there’s a coronavirus vaccine.

About 2,000 employees, or 20% of Goldman’s workforce in the city, have worked in the office consistently since the Labor Day holiday in September, Chief Executive Officer David Solomon said Thursday at a Dallas Regional Chamber virtual event. The bank is up to about 50% staffing in Europe and 35% in London, but that’s come down in recent weeks as the outbreak surged again across the continent, he said.

“I don’t think we’ll get to a level that’s different than what we’ve been operating until we get further” toward a vaccine, Solomon said. “While we still feel very comfortable that we can continue to operate safely, I think human behavior around this time of year is naturally going to change.”

About 400 people are working on the NYSE’s trading floor each day, or about half the normal level, NYSE President Stacey Cunningham said at the event. “I don’t see us scaling up until there’s a vaccine,” she said.

Both executives expect workers to return to offices eventually, with demand remaining for face-to-face interactions. In private, CEOs are expressing concern that productivity is declining during the pandemic, Solomon said.

By contrast, a survey of 250 capital-markets executives this quarter found that 62% expect to allow part-time remote work for the long term, up from 35% in the second quarter, according toFidelity National Information Services Inc., a financial-technology firm. Among companies with at least $20 billion in revenue, 68% are planning to reduce their physical footprint, the study showed.

“The larger the firms, the lesser the appetite to come back to normal,” Nasser Khodri, president of the capital-markets sell-side business at FIS, said in an interview. “The idea of getting back to offices is no longer there,” and companies are reassessing their real estate needs because they’re under pressure to cut costs, particularly in a low-interest-rate environment, he said.

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