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Morning Coffee: Five reasons why Citi’s Asian staff will miss Stephen Bird

Citi's Steven Bird leaves Asia

Bird is flying off to New York

Citi’s Asia Pacific CEO Stephen Bird is moving to New York to head up its global consumer bank. Bird’s considerable achievements during his long career at Citi in Asia suggest that his replacement, Francisco Aristeguieta, will have his work cut out to meet the rising expectations of Citi staff in the region.

Here are some of the reasons why Citi employees in Asia will miss Bird:

1) He’s made Asia more profitable

Asia Pacific ex-Japan made up 19% of Citi’s global earnings in the fourth quarter, the largest percentage of any region outside North America.

2) He’s cracked China

Bird has been the “driving force” behind Citi’s Chinese expansion – its branch network has increased from 50 to 150 in the past three years, reports Finance Asia. Citi was one of the first firms to open in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone and Bird’s regime also saw the launch of the Citi Orient Securities investment banking joint-venture.

3) He understands the back office

Bird isn’t only admired by the bank’s revenue generators. He joined Citi in 1998 as head of Asia Pacific operations and technology and is still regarded as an “analytical boss”, according to the Wall Street Journal.

4) He’s made Asia a bigger player internally

Citi may be a US bank, but under Bird’s leadership Asia got to play a bigger part in its global strategy. ‘Project Rainbow’, the firm’s core banking platform, was developed in Singapore not New York.

5) He’s almost a local

Scotsman Bird isn’t a short-stint expat (the type that local staff often don’t take kindly to) – he’s spent most of his banking career in Asia. He’s even known for quoting Chinese proverbs to Citi employees, says the WSJ.

Meanwhile:

HSBC has appointed headhunters to find new non-executive directors. (Channel News Asia)

10 fintech start-ups shaking up Asian banking. (CBR)

Should Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing keep its role as the exchange regulator? (South China Morning Post)

What we can learn from OCBC’s “hidden assets”. (Motley Fool)

World baffled by Singaporean school maths problem. (BBC)


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