The COVID Diaries: bank issuer 3
The following interview is with an Australian-based bank treasury executive. It was conducted on 5 June 2020.
Does your business have a timeline for returning to office working – and are you looking forward to it?
With the rotations into the office, do you have the whole treasury team in at once and then the whole team away at once, or is the team itself split?
It is commonly accepted at this stage that Australia and New Zealand have done relatively well in the phase of the crisis where public health was the number one priority. Is it now time – at the margin at least – to change the emphasis towards reopening the economy?
I am in favour of taking one step at a time, then a couple of weeks to ensure there is no spike in infections and then looking at lifting further restrictions. This is important as it will make sure we do not experience a large second wave which would put a lot of strain on the health system. Ultimately, though, we need to keep lifting restrictions.
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?
“If people can work from home most days, if not every day, it could support more people moving out of the inner suburbs. There will be a group of people for whom this is an opportunity to make a significant change.”
There seems to be a lot of optimism in equity and debt markets at the moment with the accelerated reopening of the economy. Are you optimistic on the economic front or still cautious?
There is a risk to unemployment and it will take some time after JobKeeper is rolled back to get a good handle on how it will play out.
Do you subscribe to the view that this crisis will radically reshape our society or do you think things will revert to previous norms?
I think it is human nature, though, that when we experience very low infection rates people will be more comfortable in crowded spaces. Hopefully at the same time a vaccine or treatment is developed.
Crises often present the opportunity for big changes. Is there any particular change you would like to see coming out of this?
This would also require a change in workplace attitude, for people to be more inclusive of those that are working remotely. This will be important if 20-30 per cent of the team is not in the office on any day.
If people can work from home most days, if not every day, it could support more people moving out of the inner suburbs. There will be a group of people for whom this is an opportunity to make a significant change.
When do you think you will next get on a plane? Are you looking forward to or dreading travelling again – for business and leisure?
I think it could be at least 12 months before we see any significant travel to Europe and North America.
What are you most looking forward to being able to do again, as restrictions ease in the coming weeks and months?