Facebook, Twitter, Gmail banned on Wall St

Nov 24 2012, 00:52 IST
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SummaryREGULATION FORCES BANKS TO BLOCK SOCIAL MEDIA

For young Wall Street employees who live their lives through social media, working at a big bank can feel as if the plug has been pulled. Most financial firms ban Facebook, Twitter and Gmail, and block most music, video streaming sites.

Working on Wall Street is “a full life commitment, and without access to social media or personal e-mail it can often feel like nothing exists outside of work,” said one JPMorgan Chase analyst who spoke on condition that he not be named because he is not allowed to talk to news media.

So he and other first- and second-year analysts, who commonly work more than 80 hours a week, are fighting back. They are relying on an informal network of strategies to subvert company firewalls and stay connected.

To watch soccer highlights, for example, one analyst said he translated the names of the teams through Google and looked for them on Rutube, YouTube’s Russian equivalent.

“It’s draconian,” the analyst said of his company’s Web site blocks. “It’s a job where you spend a lot of time waiting to get assignments back from superiors, and you have to find ways to kill the time.”

“YouTube is the biggest obstacle,” agreed an analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch who also spoke anonymously. He says that, instead, he searches Vimeo for videos, but it is not nearly as satisfying.

Investment banks say regulation is the primary motivator for blocking social media. According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, firms must keep a record of any business communication for three years. The rule applies to correspondence on any device or web site.

While firms are able to monitor e-mails and instant messages internally, it is impossible to track what one employee among hundreds of thousands is communicating on Twitter or Facebook chat.

“You have to be able to monitor what people are saying in real time,” said a Goldman Sachs spokesman, Richard Siewert Jr. “It’s about the culture,” said the JPMorgan analyst. “We’re not a start-up. It’s a buttoned-up workplace.”

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