Billionaire Ken Griffin is worried that working from home is hurting the nation — and he’d like President Joe Biden do something about it.
“If you are early in your career, you are making a grave mistake not being back at work,” Griffin, the founder of hedge fund Citadel and market maker Citadel Securities,said on Monday at the Economic Club of Chicago.
“For our youngest members of our workforce, I’m gravely concerned that the loss of early career development opportunities is going to cost us dearly over the decades to come,” he said. “That’s where I think the biggest hits are going to be in looking forward in America.”
Griffin said he’d like the nation’s leaders — going all the way up to the White House — to push more Americans to get back to the office.
“I really wish the President of the United States would make this part of a keynote address,” he said. “It’s time for America to get back to work. In the meantime, that burden of responsibility falls on corporate leadership and civic leadership to do the same thing.”
Working from home has taken off since the pandemic lockdowns of 2020 forced non-essential workers to stay home. Citadel Securities, by contrast, responded to lockdown orders by putting a few dozen traders — and even some of their families — in a Four Seasons hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., according to an April 2020 report in the New York Times.
All of Griffin’s employees have been back at the office since June. Other Wall Street firms that have called on workers to return to the office include JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, whose rigorous analyst training program has been used as a model for Griffin’s own management style.
Griffin also used the speech to raise questions about the future home of his companies — Citadel Securities, known for its relationship with no-fee trading apps like Robinhood, and the $35 billion hedge fund empire Citadel. Both are headquartered in Chicago.
“It’s becoming ever more difficult to have this as our global headquarters, a city which has so much violence,” he said. “I mean Chicago’s like Afghanistan on a good day and that’s a problem.”
Asked how long he plans to stay in the Windy City, Griffin said: “It’s probably measured in years not decades if we don’t change course.”
Griffin, worth an estimated $16 billion, according to Forbes, has previously threatened to leave Illinois over taxes, Politico reported in 2020. In 2019, however, Griffin had vowed to stay in Chicago despite “corruption, cronyism, and crime,” saying he wanted to “stand and fight for the policies and changes that will make this state better,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
Griffin says he has had issues recruiting people to work for the firm in Chicago due to crime. He said New York has been a huge source of hiring and that he will soon have many workers living in Miami.
Citadel has over 1,000 employees in New York, which “has become the center point for our hedge fund,” he said.