Citigroup aims to hire some 1000 private bankers and relationship managers in Hong Kong as it prepares to shed its Asian retail footprint and focus on wealth management.

The New York-based bank said the hiring will take place over five years.

So far in 2021, 75 private bankers and relationship managers have been hired to build on the $310 billion Asian assets under management to date.

The lender’s “Win in Wealth” recruitment campaign, already underway, is expected to add more than $150bn in assets under management across its Asia-Pacific franchise.

The headcount target will include 550 new private bankers and relationship managers by 2025, the statement said.

Citi in the region recorded over $20bn in net money inflows marking a record year for the bank in 2020, it said.

In the first quarter of 2021, Citi added more than $5bn more in net new money.

Citi Hong Kong Chief Executive Angel Ng said the bank would target the “traditional retail wealth but also growing entrepreneurial wealth” emerging in Hong Kong.

Aiming “to create a single, integrated wealth platform”

The announcement came after Citigroup formed Citi Global Wealth in January, aligning the private bank with the consumer bank under the leadership of Jim O’Donnell, former global head of investor sales and relationship manager.

O’Donnell said:

“We are putting the full force of the firm behind this effort to create a single, integrated wealth platform that will serve all clients, providing tailored capabilities for affluent individuals to ultra-high net worth families.

“We source the best asset management partners for our clients based on their needs rather than focusing on our own offerings. We also benefit our commercial bank that serves a client base where wealth is created.”

Citi’s move has echoes of HSBC folding units together into its Wealth and Global Private Banking unit last year.

Tapping into the region’s growing need for portfolio advice

Asia-Pacific CEO Peter Babej said:

“The Asia-Pacific wealth market stands out in its scale and growth potential. And this is not a cyclical opportunity – it is structural, driven by the emergence of a vast middle class and the rapid development of regional capital markets.

“Along with macro-level asset growth, Asian customers increasingly require portfolio advice, design and allocation geared towards diversification of asset types and geographic exposures.”

“We are already a wealth management leader in the region and taking this business to the next level is a strategic priority.”

The bank’s global wealth franchise in Asia includes Citigold (affluent), Citigold Private Client (core HNW) and Citi Private Bank (upper HNW and ultra HNW). The firm said it counts about one-third of the region’s billionaires as clients.

In 2020, the bank recorded over $20bn in net new money inflows across the region.