If you’re looking for a job at Citi in Hong Kong or Singapore, you’ll probably want to target an expansionist part of the firm. Citi already has the largest Asian presence of any US bank. In the first quarter, it generated $4,130m in revenues from the region (22% of its global total), while Goldman Sachs only mustered $1,103m (12%).
But some teams at Citi in Asia are doing better than others. The bank’s first quarter earnings – along with other recent statements and data – provide some insights into careers at Citi in Hong Kong and Singapore. Here’s what you need to know.
Rebounding from the Q4 horror
Citi’s Institutional Clients Group (ICG) – the unit which houses investment banking and trading among other businesses – appears to have enjoyed a remarkable start to the year. Compared with the previous quarter, ICG revenues in Asia are up 32% to $2,245m. But the rise comes from a (very) low base. As at most global banks, Citi’s Asian trading revenues tanked in Q4, which in turn affected its overall ICG numbers. Citi’s financial reports don’t detail these declines, but John Gerspach, its outgoing chief financial officer, said recently that Citi suffered a $180m trading loss in Asian fixed income in Q4. Year on year, Asian revenue in ICG only inched up by 2%.
M&A as a bright spot
Was there a bright spot within Asian investment banking? Citi’s results don’t reveal regional figures for individual products, but globally M&A advisory revenues were up 76% compared with Q1 last year. Meanwhile, new Dealogic data suggests Citi enjoyed a comparatively strong first quarter in Asia, too. While Citi isn’t traditionally renown as a market leader in Asian M&A, it did rise three slots year on year to take fifth place for Asia (ex-Japan) M&A revenue in Q1, according to the data provider. That’s ahead of Goldman Sachs.
Avoid investment sales
If your job is focused on selling investment products within Citi’s Global Consumer Bank (GCB) in Asia, you likely had a tough time in Q1. Citi shook up GCB last December, appointing Fabio Fontainha as head of retail banking for Asia Pacific and Lawrence Lam as consumer business manager for Hong Kong. But the first quarter didn’t go particularly well. Asian GCB revenues fell 2% year on year to $1,885m, with the decline pinned on lower revenues from investment products.
Wealth management build-out
Citi is ramping up its recruitment in Asian wealth management, which is part of consumer banking and serves clients with assets below the $10m qualification mark for its private bank. Citi announced last month that it plans to expand its Asian wealth client base by 10% in 2019, higher than the 8% growth it achieved last year. This will involve hiring more client advisers, according to Reuters.
Private banking expansion
Citi is also expanding its private bank (which is part of ICG) in Singapore and Hong Kong, albeit on a smaller scale than for wealth management. This follows a revamp of Citi’s talent strategy undertaken last year. While the bank has traditionally focused on grooming its own relationship managers in Asia, it’s also now aiming to recruit more RMs from competitors, Jyrki Rauhio, South Asia head of Citi Private Bank, told us.
While Citi’s Q1 earnings don’t mention digital banking in Asia, its 2018 annual report is full of references. The bank has a “growing digital lending platform” in Asia, writes CEO Michael Corbat. These include a redesigned mobile app, mobile lending on cards, a new wealth platform, and several “digital partnerships”, including with Apple and Spotify. Suffice it to say, Citi has plenty of jobs – both coding and strategy ones – focused on new digital projects in Asia. If trading technology is more your scene, the US bank is now hiring developers for its new FX trading hub in Singapore, which launches later this year.
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