Coronavirus refugees swap Wall Street for Bondi
“Did I think about what I was giving up? Of course I did: the next step would have been to associate, ”said McCormack, who left his role as managing director at Goldman Sachs to join Jarden Securities, a newcomer to New Zealand investment bank. in the Australian market.
When the start-up bank called with the opportunity to lead its natural resources and investment banking team for months into a brutal pandemic that had already driven some of its best friends out of New York, partner Goldman Sachs’ path suddenly seemed less attractive.
“And the FOMO isn’t as bad knowing that New York is no longer the New York I moved to or enjoyed for 10 years.”
‘COVID-19 refugees’ on the move
Australia is not the only country to reap the benefits of a successful containment of the virus.
Other countries in a similar position are enjoying a positive public health response that appeals to talent, Taiwan, for example, which has seen tech entrepreneurs return home over the past year.
Silicon Valley veteran Susan Wu, an early executive of the $ 95 billion ($ 122 billion) online payments processor Stripe, moved to Taiwan just before the pandemic broke.
When you are in quarantine in New York and the weeks go by and the months go by, it sharpens the mind.
– Ian Taylor, Australian ‘COVID refugee’
She said she was now working to strengthen Taiwan’s start-up industry and called on “all other recent COVID refugees” to help build long-term technology infrastructure there.
In Australia, migration is helping boost the real estate market, according to ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott.
“It’s just an amazing number of people who have returned home, and the first thing they want to do is buy a house,” Elliott said.
“A lot of these people had money, they had deposits. They are from London, they are from Singapore, from the United States. “
He said the bank had underestimated how much the returnees would stimulate the market.
Among those now looking for a home in Sydney are Chris Nicholson and his wife Jackie Cleary. Nicholson, former managing director of Evercore in New York City, is a beneficiary of the Australian investment banking upheaval.
The arrival of Jarden and investment bank Barrenjoey Capital Partners, both heavily stocked with bankers who helped make UBS Group Australia the best player, sparked a huge set of musical chairs.
Seeking to strike back with its own hires, UBS hired Nicholson for its New York infrastructure consulting team.
Swap the ski for the beach
For Nicholson and Cleary, who had worked as managing directors at Bank of America, last month’s big move was driven by family and lifestyle – they wanted their two children, ages six and four, to go. possibly in high school in Australia. The pandemic has crystallized the need to be closer to aging parents at home too.
Nicholson, who met his wife on a ski trip to Colorado, said they would miss skiing, but were thrilled to live near the beach and be able to enjoy the outdoors 12 months a year. .
Cleary has left ship for Jefferies Group, where she will lead the bank’s financial institutions advisory team. Michael Stock, CEO of Jefferies in Australia, said the bank had hired internally and externally from London, New York and Hong Kong over the past year.
“In an investment banking context, Australia has always been a net exporter of talent, but thanks to COVID and the wider opportunities that have now emerged in newly formed Australian companies, this trend has certainly reversed.” , said Stock, who made the move himself. in Sydney from London over ten years ago.
McCormack de Jarden was not the only recent defector from Goldman Sachs. Last year, Kiwi Bank hired Sarah Rennie to lead its private equity business, creating the perfect opportunity for New York-based Ian Taylor to return to Sydney to take on the role at Goldman Sachs.
Taylor, who moved with his girlfriend in November, had spent nearly a decade in the Big Apple, first at Goldman Sachs and then at Galaxy Digital Holdings of billionaire investor Mike Novogratz.
“I think it’s fair to say that when you sit in quarantine in New York City like we were, and the weeks go by and the months go by, it sharpens the spirit,” Taylor said. “And as a result, you might be more open to going home than you would be otherwise.”
Far from giving up on his career aspirations, Taylor said his decision underscored the opportunities currently available in Australia.
Although he lacks the energy and convenience of New York City, he is happy to be closer to his young nieces and enjoys weekend walks along Sydney’s famous Coastal Walk south of Bondi Beach.
“The reality is that we are all likely to live long lives, and you need to take a long-term view of your career,” he said.
“Right now I’m savoring the challenge before me and I’m sure it will create other opportunities within the company for me here, and there may be some offshore opportunities again at the to come up.”