Workings of US Firms Disturbed Due to Covid Surge in Banglore

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To say that Bengaluru’s epidemic is huge is an understatement. Bengaluru has more than 65 percent of all active cases recorded in Karnataka in a virulent second wave where the test positivity rate in the State is touching new highs. On May 7, Bengaluru recorded 346 deaths due to COVID-19, according to a bulletin released by the Karnataka government. 

Health experts have warned that the situation could be more threatening in the coming weeks, with one model predicting as many as 1,018,879 deaths by the end of July, quadrupling from the current official count of 230,168. A model prepared by government advisers suggests the wave could peak in the coming days, but the group’s projections have been changing and were wrong last month. 

As a result, US firms like Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and UBS Group AG have come under intense strain. These firms played critical roles in everything from risk management to customer service and compliance. A growing number of employees are either sick or scrambling to find critical medical supplies such as oxygen for relatives or friends.

An employee at UBS said their bank has nearly 8,000 workers but due to Covid-19, many are absent. As a result, work is being shipped to centers such as Poland. The Swiss bank’s workers in India handle trade settlement, transaction reporting, investment banking support, and wealth management. Many of the tasks require same-day or next-day turnarounds.

Standard Chartered Plc issued a statement last week that nearly 800 of its 20,000 employees in India were infected. As many as 25% of employees in some teams at UBS are absent, said an executive at the firm who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job.

For now, back-office units are managing part-time workers or asking employees to perform multiple roles and re-assigning staff to make up for those who are absent. They are scheduling overtime, deferring low-priority projects, and conducting pandemic continuity planning exercises for multiple locations should the virus wave intensify. 

Similarly, thousands of Goldman employees are working from home, doing high-end business tasks such as risk modeling, accounting compliance, and app building. A representative for the bank said workflows can be absorbed by the wider team if needed and there’s been no material impact so far.

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