The COVID Diaries: sustainable finance banker 1
The following interview is with an Australian-based banker working in sustainable finance. It was conducted on 1 May 2020.
Does your business have a timeline for returning to office working – and are you looking forward to it?
We have all adapted and coped with working from home, albeit at different rates and with different challenges. We went to alternating teams six weeks ago but went pretty immediately to everyone working from home when that came into effect.
When we will go back to office working is a day-to-day proposition for us. There is no fixed date, but people are still able to work in the office if there are transactions or specific reasons for them to be there under the alternating team requirements.
Has your view of the crisis and the nature of the challenges it presents changed? It seems Australia has prioritised public health over the economy, at least in the medium term. How are you thinking about that trade off?
Internally, people come first and foremost. Businesses live and breathe by people being healthy and able to work.
Are you more or less optimistic about the crisis than you were during the early acceleration period of moving to home working and adding social distancing measures?
It will have long-term impacts on the way certain industries operate. Hospitality and travel will obviously be affected for a long time. But there is also the long-term impact across many other industries where the human capital flow across borders will be materially affected.
“The speed at which we were able to mobilise work-from-home technology for the entire organisation was amazing. The fact you can do this at such short notice shifts the goalposts and will no doubt influence future business models globally.”
Do you think Australia should accelerate the easing of restrictions?
If we completely ease restrictions, we could easily find all the hard work of isolation and social distancing undone and could be in an even worse position. It will take time and it is not an easy position for governments to be in, particularly with the necessary coordination across states with different agendas.
What opportunities do you see in the economic recovery?
Driving positive societal impacts and outcomes is as important if not more important than ever and I expect the range of financing opportunities for borrowers and investors to mobilise capital will be tilted towards social outcomes for the near and medium term.
The low-carbon transition is also in the spotlight. We have seen already the impact of less air travel, less manufacturing and energy usage. People are realising we do not need to use vehicles and travel as much. Remote working is also having an effect.
Perhaps there could be a shift to having remote-working hubs and using technology much more effectively. For us, the speed at which we were able to mobilise work-from-home technology for the entire organisation was amazing. The fact you can do this at such short notice shifts the goalposts and will no doubt influence future business models globally.
There will be opportunities in new industries, services and business models. Sustainable finance should play a major part in supporting this and in helping the economy get back on its feet.
We have been asking people what they have been reading relating to the crisis but we think everyone has seen enough by this stage. So what are your entertainment recommendations for lockdown?
I have also worked my way through a few good boxsets. Some of the highlights have been Killing Eve, False Flag, the recent Beastie Boys documentary and The Capture. All of these are not COVID-19-related and have been good fodder to switch off to.
KangaNews is your source for the latest on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on Australasian debt capital markets. For complete coverage, click here.