A couple of months before the World Health Organization formally declared the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to be a pandemic issue, corporate banking departments at major institutions were trying to figure out how they could better manage growth during a challenging time for debt origination, equity deals, and syndicate lending operations. As can be expected, these operations were heavily impacted as the global economy screeched to a halt in March 2020.
Corporate banking divisions were among the first to adopt work-from-home practices in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. For these departments, the prospect of telecommuting was the least of their worries. As you can read in this Reuters article from January 2020, corporate banking directors were trying to make sense of everything that had taken place over the last three years.
The global trade war started by United States President Donald Trump in 2018 had created a climate of uncertainty among multinational business enterprises. The U.S. conflict with the Islamic Republic of Iran escalated with attacks, a blockade in the Persian Gulf, and trade sanctions that made global trading difficult. The global recession many economists feared was fully materialized by the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, the political instability in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela also weighed heavily on the shoulders of corporate banking directors.
Prospective corporate banking clients have been skittish about taking chances on the unpredictable market, but this has not stopped banking executives from pursuing potential leads. When division employees were directed to work from home in order to minimize contagion, they were instructed to do their best in terms of scouting deals, gathering intelligence, and providing advisory. Executives braced for the worst-case scenario, which would have involved temporary and permanent layoffs, but something completely unexpected took place on Wall Street.
After the Black Monday crash of March 2020, investors around the world were convinced that this was the beginning of the end for financial markets, but trading volumes on Wall Street started picking up steam and quickly erasing losses. This incredible turnaround indicated that investors felt that making risky bets was one way to stave off complete economic collapse; this contributed to companies such as Airbnb deciding not to scuttle their initial public offering in 2020. Underwriting, IPOs, and advisory with regard to mergers and acquisitions are all expected to make a strong comeback from now until 2022, and the initial activity in this regard will be mostly handled by employees working from home.
According to a survey conducted by the eFinancial Careers work portal, employees of major banks such as Citigroup and Deutsche Bank do not expect to return to the office this year; in fact, they believe that they will work from home all through the holiday season, but they also anticipate being busy. For many companies, making deals and taking risks will be their only salvation as the global economy begins to thaw out before 2020 comes to an end, and corporate banking specialists will be there to support them right from their own homes.