JPMorgan insists it’s going ahead with an in-person conference in San Francisco in January, but alarm bells ringing among some attendees could force the meeting online — and it’s not because of Covid worries. It’s because of crime.
Some would-be attendees say they’re concerned about out-of-control crime in the city by the bay, which is set to play host to the JP Morgan 40th Annual Healthcare Conference from Jan. 10-13.
High-level Wall Street executives claim to be spooked by the thought of attending the in-person conference at the Westin St. Francis on San Francisco’s Union Square. They point to a recent crime spree — marauding gangs ransacking high-end stores, including Nordstrom, Louis Vuitton and Burberry.
“I’m scared — the amount of lawlessness now is astounding,” one senior Wall Street executive told On The Money. “Violence is a huge topic of discussion at our bank.” This person, who isn’t with JPM, says his colleagues are “pleading” with their bosses and begging not be sent to San Francisco out of concern for their personal safety.
“People were upset about crime in San Francisco before the pandemic — now this smash-and-grab is a whole new level of mayhem,” another Wall Street executive adds.
But whether Wall Street types are mostly worried about the crime wave, or whether they’re simply used to sitting in their pajamas for the last two years of work-from-home is an open question.
“It’s clear the crime you’re seeing is petty crime — not attacking executives at red lights in tinted-window SUVs headed to conferences,” one corporate executive who is a frequent investment conference speaker told On The Money.
This person adds the diminishing interest in conferences is partly because investors — who previously trekked to events to find and meet with investment targets — now can more easily arrange online meetings. During coronavirus, investors and companies grew accustomed to these virtual gatherings.
As for the San Francisco conference, another source says he knows of people lining up virtual meetings to coincide with the gathering. “I don’t know of anyone going in-person,” the source said.
But some conference hosts — namely banks like JPMorgan — still want the prestige of a notable event and they still want to play a role facilitating relationships between investors and companies.
While those most concerned about attending the San Fran event have communicated their worries to JPMorgan, sources told On The Money it’s unclear whether JPMorgan will capitulate and move the event online.
The conference was held virtually last January due to Covid concerns.
In a statement to conference attendees sent Monday, JPMorgan said it plans to host the conference in-person even as the bank monitors Covid and safety considerations.
“We’re continually monitoring several factors like COVID-19 and recent safety concerns highlighted in the news in the San Francisco area,” the bank told attendees. “We have not altered our plans for an in-person conference at this time nor are we considering canceling the event.”
Usually, the Westin can book up more than six months in advance of the conference, sources told On The Money. The hotel still appears to be booked for the three of the four nights the conference is held. On the evenings of January 9, 10 and 11, rooms are “not available for check-in,” according to the website. On the 12, rooms are going for $1,059 per night — a steep jump for a hotel room that can cost as little as $153 on nights that aren’t busy.