Tanner Dyun, an equity analyst at a European bank in Hong Kong, has been working from home a lot since his firm’s business continuity plans kicked in earlier this month. But despite some frustrations about slower internet speeds outside of the office, he isn’t getting bored – in fact Dyun (not his real name) says his workload has increased over the past three weeks.
“That’s because everyone is asking the same question: how will the virus affect everything from stocks to the economy, so every research analyst is now trying to write reports around this current epidemic,” says Dyun.
He is not alone. While many front-office bankers have seen their deal pipelines shrivel up and their travel plans curtailed, research analyst are among a small but still significant group of banking professionals in Singapore and Hong Kong who are busier than usual because of the coronavirus. “There’s been a surge in activity for both buy and sell-side analysts – volatility means opportunity,” says Abimanu Jeyakumar, Hong Kong head of recruitment firm Selby Jennings. “I’ve heard of analysts working through the night as the market evolves and economic conditions in Asia remain unpredictable,” he adds.
Singapore-based trader Jeremiah Wen (a pseudonym) says he has noticed a small uptick in his workload because of market volatility. Asia markets rebounded today after plunging last week. The fact that his bank has split traders between its downtown Singapore headquarters and a suburban location in the Republic has done nothing to change his team’s workload. The transition has been smooth, he adds.
Some employees in the back office also have their work cut out for them right now, especially those in business continuity planning (BCP), security, and facility operations roles, says Sid Sibal, director of banking and finance at recruiters Hudson in Hong Kong. “These departments are really leading the charge and working long hours to ensure they have multiple levels of plans in place to respond quickly to changes in the virus situation,” says Sibal. “They’re also coordinating with other departments – such as technology and management teams – and auditing staff travel plans,” he adds.
Operational risk teams in Asia are in “overdrive” says Jeyakumar. “Banks need them to consistently assess the ever-evolving conditions, because a slip in foresight could cost a bank dearly,” he adds. Hong Kong-based market risk professional Serenity Sung (not her real name) says she and her colleagues are also busy because of an increased need to “monitor the market risk in our trading portfolio”.
Among the busiest people at banks in Hong Kong and Singapore are those in human resources. “While HR professionals are heavily involved with banks’ action plans to tackle the virus outbreak, they’re also in the midst of dealing with bonuses, headcount planning, employee relations initiatives, and insurance queries, among other issues,” says Sibal. “Answering calls and emails on weekends has become quite common for them lately,” he adds.
Also spare a thought for tech-support staff at banks, who have been “working long hours” trying to help the increasing number of employees now working from home in Singapore and Hong Kong, says Sibal. “Their tasks now include getting monitors delivered to homes, and ensuring remote employees have access to the right cables, keyboards and software,” he adds.
Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash
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