Finance & Insurance

CT’s financial services sector weathered the pandemic with fewer job losses than during the Great Recession

Connecticut lost more than 5,000 jobs in finance and insurance in 2008 as it reeled from the financial crisis.

About 15 months since the coronavirus pandemic started to disrupt the state’s economy, the sector’s job losses have totaled less than one-third of that amount.

Financial services’ relative resilience in the past year has helped stabilize Connecticut’s economy, whose employment levels have plummeted in other sectors such as leisure and hospitality as a result of pandemic-sparked restrictions. The sector’s steadiness also demonstrates that there is a large number of industry professionals who still see their long-term future in the state, a commitment reinforced by flexible workplace arrangements.

“I was able to navigate the process of starting the firm without too much friction,” Brian Moss, a Darien resident who last year launched a private wealth management firm Soaring Capital, said in an interview. “This is a trust business, and we were so used to seeing people and interacting with clients and prospects in a physical way. But everybody became accustomed to having a virtual coffee. I can do a virtual coffee with five people versus two in-person in a day. In many ways, it is much more efficient.”

Limited job losses

Soaring Capital founder Brian Moss poses near his home in Darien, Conn., on Tuesday, May 11, 2021.

Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

Between March 2020 and March 2021, finance and insurance’s employment dropped by 1.7 percent, or a total of 1,700 positions, according to the state Department of Labor. On a percentage basis, nearly every other industry lost more jobs. Overall, the state’s employment declined 6.1 percent in that period.

The sector’s limited job losses in the past year reflect stable headcounts at industry heavyweights, such as Stamford-headquartered Synchrony, the country’s largest private-label credit card provider. In the fourth quarter of last year, Synchrony had about 740 Stamford-based employees, unchanged from the number in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to data from the Stamford Office of Economic Development.

Financial-services professionals have benefited from their industry’s compatibility with remote working during the pandemic. Last October, Synchrony announced a new policy allowing employees to permanently work from home.

The industry has also gained from the federal stimulus packages of the past 15 months, according to a number of economists.

“There could’ve been a lot more stress on the financial sector if Congress had not authorized the support programs of late March and early April of 2020, which allowed a lot of companies of all sizes to avoid bankruptcy,” said Lawrence J. White, a professor of economics at New York University.