- First-year analysts and CEOs alike have been forced to work from home and cancel travel during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
- For many, this has meant spending more time with family than usual, especially with schools canceled for the foreseeable future in states like New York.
- Executives at some of the biggest financial services firms in the world, like Franklin Templeton, MSCI, Prudential, Tradeweb, and more told Business Insider that the change has made them set stricter boundaries between work and family time — and has them questioning the split.
- “You’ve got to pace yourself. You’ve got to create a structure where you can say ‘Hey, I’m going to eat with my family now,'” said Henry Fernandez, CEO of MSCI. “If you don’t, it will overwhelm you.”
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Parents are struggling right now.
Whether it’s because both homeschooling children and working full-time is a herculean task or because making ends meet during a global pandemic that has forced tens of millions into unemployment is near impossible, it’s likely many parents have never dealt with this much stress before.
And executives of some of the biggest financial services companies in the world are not immune to the realities of working from home with family.
For the crisis, MSCI Henry Fernandez is hunkered down in his home on Long Island with his family, where he said boundaries had to be set so everyone could get their work done.
“I had to let them know ‘Hey, you can’t just walk into my office and start talking about whatever.’ If I’m in there, I’m working,” he said in an interview with Business Insider.
But these same executives are spending more time with family than at probably any point in their careers, and are starting to consider what exactly a work-life balance should look like following the pandemic.
Jenny Johnson, the CEO of Franklin Templeton, said that she is “connecting more regularly” with family and friends with online happy hours, while David Hunt, CEO of PGIM, the asset management arm of Prudential Financial, decompresses from his workday with dinners with family.
“The lines between work and home have blurred even more, and it is important that we all find a more sustainable balance between our professional and personal lives,” Hunt said in a statement to Business Insider.
That balance has of course been a topic of conversation for decades as more households have both parents working full-time. But there has never been a pandemic that has isolated decision-making executives with their families for an extended period of time like this.
Lee Olesky, CEO of electronic-marketplace operator Tradeweb, said on a webinar in March having the vast majority of his employees working remotely has been a “fundamental game changer.”
Olesky, whose platform saw record volumes in March as Wall Street’s credit traders turned to electronic markets for liquidity, told Business Insider the silver lining of the crisis is understanding if an assessment of work-life balance is necessary.
“It’s difficult to draw many positives from a crisis that has had such a significant human cost, and that has created such dire economic circumstances for so many families. I hope we’ll use it as an opportunity to ask some tough questions: do we need to adjust the work-life balance? How can we make sure the most vulnerable are better protected?” said Olesky, whose three sons are all currently living at home with him.
Business as we know it is set to change from the pandemic or has already started to change. Industries as varied as airlines, restaurants, and banking are trying to determine how they fit in a post-pandemic world.
Work-life balance is one of the few issues that affect all sectors, no matter the field, and working from home has made people open up in different ways — intentionally, or otherwise.
Fernandez, the CEO of MSCI, advises workaholics working from home to pace themselves during this time, and cater to the needs of their families and themselves.
“You’ve got to create a structure where you can say ‘Hey, I’m going to eat with my family now,'” Fernandez said. “If you don’t, it will overwhelm you.”
For some corners of the wealth management business, executives and advisers have had to get creative when it comes to connecting with clients — and each other — in an industry reliant on promoting the value of the human touch.
Lawrence Raffone, chief executive of Edelman Financial Engines, the largest independent US registered investment adviser with $229 billion in assets under management through December, said he’s been spending time in remote company AMAs (sessions where participants can “ask me anything”), town halls, and virtual happy hours.
“Meetings that were once routine are now happening in makeshift offices, surrounded by family photos, interrupted by energetic kids and pets, and opening up a much deeper level of personal connection,” he told Business Insider. “I’m seeing more people be vulnerable and sharing how this crisis has impacted their lives, each in different ways.”
For Catherine Keating, CEO of BNY Mellon’s wealth management business, the pandemic has been a wake-up call to priorities and “the basics of daily life.”
“It will be a long time before I take the basics of daily life — family, friends, colleagues, health, proximity, and mobility — for granted again,” said Keating, who was appointed to her post in 2018. “In fact, I hope I never do.”