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UBS wants to be the anti-Goldman when it comes to flexible work

April 8, 2022, 10:34 AM UTC

Good morning,

Goldman wants workers back in the office. But UBS had a different idea: Ask workers what they want.

Marc Montanaro, head of HR at UBS Americas, says the wealth management firm and financial services company asked employees what they need in terms of flexibility. It resulted in what the firm is calling its new “virtual worker framework.” U.S.-based employees in certain roles will have the opportunity to work 100% remotely rather than hybrid. UBS will roll this out over the coming months, Montanaro says.

If you take a look at New York City, the financial capital of the U.S., the markets survived when employees worked from home. The Partnership for New York City surveyed major employers to gauge the status of return to office in Manhattan in late October. The real estate industry had the highest average daily attendance (77%), while finance and law firms both clocked in significantly lower at 27%, the report found. Overall, just 3% of white-collar workers want to return to the office five days a week, according to a recent poll by Advanced Workplace Associates, a management consultancy.

I spoke with Montanaro about how the virtual worker framework was launched, who’s eligible, and what flexibility has meant for attracting new talent. Here’s our conversation.

Q: How did the virtual worker framework come about?  

Montanaro: When the pandemic hit, 95% of our employees worked remotely. During the course of the pandemic, we invited all of our employees to share their post-pandemic work preferences, which prompted a conversation with their line managers. Additionally, we conducted a global survey, and 86% of our employees indicated their preference for more flexibility at work. Based on that feedback, we worked with each of the businesses to define which of the different role categories could be flexible, 100% remote, or in fact, need to be in the office. And as a result, in mid-2021, we introduced our flexible ways of working and have since formally moved a number of roles into this model. Our new virtual worker framework is the next step.

Q. Can you explain how the program will work once it’s rolled out, and who is eligible?

Montanaro: It’s going to provide employees in eligible roles with the opportunity to work 100% remotely. And that’s not just for our existing employees, but also for potential candidates who, for example, may be in different parts of the country where we don’t have traditional offices. We can look to employ a wider range of employees across the country. 

There are a number of roles that we traditionally have in the office, whether it be for regulatory reasons, or just by nature of that role. Some of the roles in the virtual worker framework would be data analysts, business managers, and operations staff, for example. We are doing the first phase of the program within our wealth management U.S. business. In the next phase, we are going to look to open it up for other groups, such as compliance specialists and finance business partners.

Of our 20,500-employee base in the U.S., we anticipate about 10% will be in this virtual worker framework, which is 100% remote. We also anticipate about 70% to 75% of our employees will be in a hybrid working environment, and 15% to 20% of employees will be working full time in the office. Whether their role requires that, or their preference is to be fully in the office five days a week.

Q: Has the flexible work approach that UBS has taken led to attracting more talent and less turnover?

Montanaro: It has certainly helped from a retention perspective. And at the same time, we’ve had many candidates talking to us about how great it is that we are allowing flexible working. So anecdotally we are seeing that this has had a big draw on candidate interest in UBS as a result. It’s early days, but we’re encouraged by the initial feedback.

Q. Do you have a hybrid schedule or are you fully remote?

Montanaro: Generally, as we come out of the pandemic, I get to the office two-to-three days a week in addition to working from home. I live in Connecticut, and I’m normally based in New York or New Jersey. My commute on any given day is about two hours each way. So, having the ability to spend a couple of days a week at home allows me much more production time rather than the commuting time. I’m trying to create a balance of being in the office, and having those get-togethers and meetings, which I thrive on, and conducting a number of meetings virtually from home. Many of the other executives across UBS here in the region follow a very similar pattern.

Have a good weekend. See you on Monday.

Sheryl Estrada

Big deal

Asana Inc. (NYSE: ASAN), a web and mobile work management platform, has released the results of its annual global survey. It gauges what’s working for employees—and what's not—in hybrid and remote work schedules. Employees have certain preferences when it comes to meetings. For example, 48% said they prefer to have large meetings remotely. Meanwhile, respondents prefer onboarding (48%) and one-on-one meetings (46%) to take place in the office. The study also offers processes management can implement to boost productivity. The survey, conducted by Global Web Index, is based on the behaviors of 10,624 knowledge workers in Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, the U.K., and the U.S.

Courtesy of Asana

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Some notable moves this week:

John Crimmins will retire from his position as CFO at Burlington Stores, Inc. (NYSE: BURL), an off-price retailer, by August 31. Burlington has initiated an external search for a new CFO. Crimmins, 65, became Burlington’s CFO in October 2019 after serving in that capacity on an interim basis since September 2019. Prior to this role, Crimmins was Burlington’s EVP of finance. He first came to the company in 2011 as SVP of finance, chief accounting officer.

Michael Crotty was promoted to COO and CFO at Paramount Global Premium Group, which includes Showtime Networks, BET Networks, Paramount Television Studios and Bellator. In Crotty’s Premium Group role, he will work on aligning the divisions to maximize subscriber and revenue growth, Deadline reports

Travis Leonard was named CFO at Hostess Brands, Inc. (Nasdaq: TWNK), a sweet snacks company, effective May 11. He succeeds interim CFO Mike Gernigin who will remain with the company as chief accounting officer. Leonard has more than 25 years of experience. He previously served as SVP and CFO of the medical segment at Cardinal Health, joining the company in 2018 as corporate treasurer. He previously served in finance and corporate audit roles at Cargill. Earlier in his career, Leonard spent almost 14 years in various finance roles at Kraft Foods.

Mark Murphy was named EVP and CFO at Micron Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq: MU), effective April 18. Murphy will be joining Micron from Qorvo, a wireless technology company where he has been CFO since 2016. Prior to his tenure at Qorvo, Murphy was CFO at Delphi Automotive, CFO at MEMC Electronic Materials, and president of the Electronics Materials division at Praxair.

Ellen Scipta was named CFO at Fresh Vine Wine, Inc. (NYSE American: VINE). Scipta brings more than 20 years of financial leadership experience to her new role. Most recently, she was CFO of Intricon, a joint development manufacturer of advanced micro-medical technology.

Jandy Tomy was named interim CFO at Inc. (NYSE: CARS), an automotive marketplace platform. Sonia Jain, CFO, has resigned effective April 15. Jain will be leaving the company to pursue a new opportunity with a pre-IPO, venture capital-backed company. Tomy is VP and treasurer at the company. She has been at since March 2017.


"Bitcoin mining is going to save the world."

—“Shark Tank” investor Kevin O’Leary at the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami. Cryptocurrency is criticized for being energy-intensive and bad for the environment, but O’Leary believes that’s where the opportunity lies, Fortune reported.

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