Morgan Stanley interns favor flexibility as CEO blasts working from home

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Morgan Stanley interns say they would like more work flexibility — even as their hard-charging CEO rails against the growing work-from-home movement.

The bulk of the investment bank’s interns say they would like some work-from-home options when they enter the workforce full-time, according to an internal survey conducted by Morgan Stanley.

Some 71 percent of Morgan Stanley’s 120 Europe-based interns said this, compared to 66 percent of its 341 North America-based interns, the survey found.

The survey results come as Morgan Stanley’s James Gorman joins the growing chorus of Wall Street CEOs calling for their workforces get back to their desks.

Gorman has ordered his staffers to return to the office after Labor Day or suffer the consequences, saying: “If you want to get paid New York rates, you work in New York, none of this ‘I’m in Colorado, working in New York and getting paid like I’m sitting in New York City.’”

Ironically, Gorman and others, including JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon, have cited their interns as a prime reason for demanding staffers get back on the subway.

“Make no mistake about it. We do our work inside Morgan Stanley offices, and that’s where we teach, that’s where our interns learn, that’s how we develop people,” Gorman said at a U.S. Financials, Payments & CRE conference in June.

Last month he reiterated the position on an earnings call: “I fundamentally believe the way you and I develop our career is by being mentored and by watching and experiencing the professional skills of those who came before us,” the Wall Street mogul told analysts. “You can’t do that sitting at home by yourself, there’s a limit to Zoom technology.”

Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

At Goldman Sachs, most Big Apple staff were required to be back at their desks in June. JPMorgan Chase has brought back staff regardless of their vaccination status but is capping office capacity at 50 percent with a longer-term goal of keeping 10 percent of the company’s 225,000 workforce at home permanently.

Meanwhile, UBS — Switzerland’s largest bank — is striking a different tone than its American counterparts and is letting most employees permanently work from home at least some of the time. The bank is also holding off on setting a date for a return to the office.

Citi, run by CEO Jane Fraser, has cited child care issues as the reason she’s waiting to force staff back in. Citigroup is instead calling for workers to start coming in two days a week starting next month and they must be fully vaccinated to return.

One wrinkle in Morgan Stanley’s plan to bring all employees back is that the bank is prohibiting unvaccinated employees from returning. Still, Gorman is quick to point out the double standard of people who are out and about town but won’t return to their desks. “If you can go into a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office,” Gorman said in June.

And junior staffers may ultimately get the flexibility they want — at least for a few more months. As the ultra-contagious Delta variant surges, some banks including Wells Fargo and BlackRock are pushing back their return to the office.

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