Virtu Financial rethinks office space post-coronavirus lockdown

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Virtu Financial VIRT.O, one of the world's biggest trading and market making firms, is looking at alternatives to having all its employees work from an office once stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus have been lifted, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

About 95% of around 1,000 Virtu employees were working from home due to the pandemic when the company reported earnings in early May.

Now, after coming through one of the most volatile and highest-volume periods in financial markets history without any major issues, the company is rethinking its real-estate footprint, CEO Doug Cifu said via webcast at an industry conference held by Piper Sandler.

“I think every firm is struggling with that,” he said. “I mean, I know for sure that our costs for real estate are going to go down precipitously, because I’m not going to pay for 80,000 square feet in downtown Manhattan when I don’t have to.”

Virtu, which has offices in cities including New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Paris, surveyed staff on their thoughts and concerns about returning to the office, and around 75% of those in the New York area said they did not want to get back on mass transit, Cifu said.

Around 35% said they would be happy to potentially work from home, so Virtu is considering the alternatives, he added.

“Is it better if we had a small but larger cadre of people in the office? Yes, but I have told our people I’m not risking anybody’s health or welfare to make a buck,” Cifu said from Virtu’s New York office, where he said six other people were also working.

Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by David Gregorio