Citi HK ramps up hiring on commercial banking ambitions
Citi HK is looking to hire 100 commercial banking professionals in the next two years, as the bank ramps up efforts to capitalise on its sizable commercial banking wallet.
This talent will flow to Citi Commercial Bank which is the business unit within the financial institution that serves mid-sized companies and emerging corporates.
Citi Commercial Bank is expanding its business in Asia Pacific, having recently announced plans to hire close to 350 people in the region over the next three years, with a focus on Hong Kong and mainland China, in addition to India and Singapore.
As part of the expansion, Citi Commercial Bank in Hong Kong aims to onboard around 70 sales and relationship managers, and 30 credit analysts, business control and product managers. It’s looking to attract experienced candidates based locally, as well as talent from the Greater Bay Area.
“As more emerging and mid-sized companies enter new markets and create global supply chains, there is a real need for sophisticated global banking services. This need, coupled with the growth potential of this client segment, is leading us to make investments so that we can serve clients at scale,” says Andy Wong, Hong Kong Head of Emerging Corporates at Citi Commercial Bank.
These investments are not just limited to active hiring, but also encompass digital transformation efforts. Says Andy: “We will grow our business in Hong Kong, build out our digital platforms and capabilities, and deepen penetration in emerging, high-growth disruptor sectors.”
Dynamic career, global training
For Martin Wong, the draw of working at Citi is clear: growth opportunities and an avenue for a global career.
“I had heard from a friend that Citi is performance-driven and provides opportunities for capable staff to be promoted,” says the Senior Vice President, one of the Emerging Corporates Division Heads at Citi Commercial Bank in Hong Kong.
Martin, a City University of Hong Kong finance graduate, left corporate banking in 2010 to join Citi in a business development role, before rising to credit relationship manager. In 2015, he changed career paths and pivoted to a non-credit relationship manager role.
One of his career highlights is a week-long training at the bank’s New York headquarters, conducted in 2019, where he learned strategic thinking for business. “It taught me to think about building a business like a start-up, which can generate ideas to grow or streamline processes,” he says.
Shortly after, he managed to double his portfolio size despite the market challenges in recent years, and was promoted to division head. He now manages 14 staff members across two teams, servicing major clients in the logistics and new economy sectors.
Like Martin, Citi provides staff with overseas training opportunities in Asia, as well as different parts of the world.
“One of the best things that came out of my training was the chance to interact with people from different countries, different backgrounds,” says Andy. “That opened my eyes to the fact that people can see different solutions to the same problem.”
Even in day-to-day work, opportunities abound to interact with colleagues from the US, UK, and across Asia. And for those seeking the full global experience, the bank is renowned for encouraging staff mobility.
“Our staff have moved to Singapore, to the US, and more when they feel that they’re ready for something new. Likewise, we have welcomed many Citi colleagues from other markets to Hong Kong over the years” says Andy, adding that talent can even rotate out of Citi Commercial Bank to its other businesses. “Citi is one of the few international banks in the world that can provide these truly global opportunities.”
Adds Martin: “Citi is active in investment banking, private banking, commercial banking, corporate banking and personal banking, and has presence in more than 200 cities globally. I don't think there’s another bank in the world that offers such a large range of opportunities.”
An open mind
So, what does Citi seek in star commercial banking candidates? While skills and knowledge are important, candidates with an open mind are in high demand.
“People who want to develop their career in this space need to be very open minded and resilient – not just to the people they're working with, but to ideas,” Andy says, citing Citi Commercial Bank’s expansion to clients in new economy businesses, such as ecommerce firms and online travel agencies, compared to traditional clients such as toy or shoe manufacturers.
“We understand the world is evolving. If we are not open-minded enough, we don't have the passion to keep exploring new opportunities,” he adds. “I think that is what makes this job interesting.”
As part of its efforts to stay abreast of the latest market developments and advance its services through new approaches, Citi’s investments in digital will help new frontline staff be more productive.
“Twenty years ago, commercial banking had a lot of manual processes,” says Andy. “But our investments in technology have enabled routine transactions to be done via internet banking. Communication is much more convenient and efficient. Technology can provide clients with the information they need.”
This digitalisation push also helps relationship managers serve clients on demand – such as providing the right solutions to go global – at the speed expected by the new generation of business customers.
Overseas expansion is a core goal for many of Citi Commercial Bank’s clients, who choose to work with the global bank for its expansive worldwide network.
“Our edge in the digital era is our globality, which enables clients to expand overseas markets and achieve growth,” says Andy. “Throughout the years, we've seen different industries develop differently, but demand for our services remains.”