The COVID Diaries: syndicate 6

The following interview is with a Singapore-based fixed-income syndicate banker. It was conducted on 24 June 2020.

Singapore has fared well on a relative basis in the public-health stage of the crisis, but has also seen the potential for a second wave of the virus. How optimistic are you about the prospects for further easing of restrictions from here, and do you think we might actually be entering the most challenging phase of the crisis from a policy perspective?

Singapore is now finally entering phase two of its reopening whereby restaurants and social visits are now allowed. The controls are still relatively measured, though, with a maximum of five people visiting each other's homes for social visits and no more than five people together when dining out.

These measures seem justified relative to what is now allowed in Australia as Singapore has more dense living. I expect Singapore to remain in phase two for a considerable period of time before a further relaxation of measures.

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?

I am more optimistic about the crisis from an economic standpoint as economies reopen. However, from a health and preparedness standpoint, I feel there could be a divergence between west and east, with east likely to manage the situation better.

The situation across the US especially is not a great signal for the broader health crisis and the eventual socioeconomic impact. Europe will be interesting to watch too, as cross-border travel resumes.

“Certain jobs are unlikely to return as businesses have transformed themselves incredibly well under the circumstances, and in some case found a better way of doing business.”

Where is your business on the spectrum of returning to office work, and what is the plan from here?

Globally, our firm continues to take a fairly conservative stance and the majority of employees will continue to work from home for the coming months. I expect the situation will remain fluid and will be subject to continuous reassessment.

Do you subscribe to the view that this crisis will radically reshape our society? What do you think will change and what will areas that some might think will change will actually revert to previous norms?

Certain jobs are unlikely to return as businesses have transformed themselves incredibly well under the circumstances, and in some case found a better way of doing business. The sectors that are hardest hit are unlikely to have a full recovery and will have far more casualties and defaults, meaning a much slower path to recovery.

When do you think you will next get on a plane? Are you looking forward to or dreading travelling again for business and leisure?

In my opinion, international travel is unlikely until 2021, for business or pleasure.

What are you most looking forward to being able to do again, as restrictions ease in the coming weeks and months?

There is a certain type of energy that can only be derived when working in a group environment. I look forward to reconnecting with friends and colleagues in this way, once we are in a better place to do so.

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