Morning Coffee: The art of being a McKinsey & Co. consultant during lockdown. Remote traders face bureaucratic nightmare

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Morning Coffee: The art of being a McKinsey & Co. consultant during lockdown. Remote traders face bureaucratic nightmare

Consultants have been exchanging pet photos, among other things.

How is McKinsey & Co., the global strategy consulting firm, responding to the virus lockdown? After all, it's one thing being an M&A banker with almost no deals to do but plenty of clients to talk through the implications of the slowdown, but what if you're a consultant whose working days are typically spent devising solutions on actual client sites? 

Given that most client sites are now closed and that travelling to them wouldn't be considered essential anyway, it might be considered that most McKinsey Consultants are now at home reading about epidemiology. This is probably true for some, while others at McKinsey are busy generating thought leadership pieces titled things like 'Coronavirus: Leading through the crisis.' Many, however, are still working as consultants - they're just visiting client sites remotely.

The Financial Times reports that McKinsey & Co. consultants have been out and about from the comfort of their home offices, using remote cameras to participate in virtual site visits. They then discuss strategies for bringing factories back up to speed when the virus wanes using Zoom video conferencing. 

Given that consultants at McKinsey and elsewhere often complain about the nightmare of long hours and weeks away at client sites, the virus could potentially revolutionise the most unappealing element of consulting jobs. -What if consultants didn't have to leave the house on Monday mornings and return only on Friday evenings? What if they could work onsite from the comfort of their own homes?  Consulting jobs would likely appeal to far more parents if this were the case. 

Predictably virtual site visits are unlikely to last. - Once the virus is over, clients who are paying large fees for McKinsey consultants' advice are unlikely to accept that those consultant are disinclined to work on site and to meet them face to face. However, there may still be some changes: site visits could be an initial part of the process rather than an ongoing requirement. - McKinsey & Co. global managing partner Kevin Sneader says COVID-19 has encouraged the firm to adopt, "the next generation of online tools that we’ve been talking about moving to for ages.”

In the meantime, the firm is also working to engage its homeworking consultants with things like a blog about their pets. In China, Sneader says McKinsey & Co's staff were fine with homeworking at first but then the novelty began to wane. The low point is five weeks in, when people wonder if it will ever end...

Separately, while McKinsey & Co. consultants swap chat about their pets, traders at home are immersed in a bureaucratic nightmare that threatens to substantially increase the amount of time taken to do their jobs. We've already noted the difficulty presented by the need to monitor traders' telephone calls for regulatory purposes when they're trading outside the office, now the Wall Street Journal reports that some firms have found a way around this - detailed notes using pen and paper. 

In an effort to prove that traders aren't engaged in nefarious activities like insider trading, the WSJ says one asset management firm is asking its remote traders to manually detail the contents of their calls, including who participated, quotes, solicited bids, offers, prices and trade instructions. The notes must then be emailed to supervisors and produced at later dates if required. It's not clear how common this is, but the practice sounds like a time-consuming nightmare for traders who were previously used to making recorded calls and nothing more.

Meanwhile:

Are capital controls in emerging markets coming next? By some accounts, outflows from emerging markets bond and equity funds in the past three weeks have exceeded 4% of net asset value. (Financial Times) 

The private equity fund run by U.K. investor Guy Hands won't be hiring any graduates due to the virus. (Financial News) 

Private equity funds are hiring restructuring specialists. (Financial News) 

Barclays' shares fell 7% yesterday. (Evening Standard) 

Berenberg thinks European and U.S. banks earnings will be 30% lower than expected this year. (Bloomberg) 

“The earliest IPO window, as things stand, is in September, if not 2021.” (Bloomberg)  

If you've had the virus you could get an 'immunity passport' and go back to work. (Guardian) 

Deutsche Bank had 375,000 masks. It donated them to the Frankfurt fire department. (Twitter) 

Rich people from Manhattan who've decamped to the Hamptons are paying for limousines to bring them their post. (Vice) 

UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti gave CHF1m of his own money to the virus crisis. (FiNews) 

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com in the first instance. Whatsapp/Signal/Telegram also available. Bear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t.)

Photo by Carissa Weiser on Unsplash

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