Citigroup is expanding in Singapore, but where? To get some answers we went straight to the top and spoke with Han Kwee Juan, chief executive officer of Citibank Singapore.
As the wealth management strategies of banks in Singapore become increasingly divergent (UBS and Credit Suisse are expanding while Barclays and Coutts are pulling out of Asia), Citi remains focused on growth.
In wealth management, which includes the firm’s ‘Citigold’ affluent and private-client platforms, hiring has increased “by more than 20%” over the past few years, says Han.
“As the general population becomes more affluent, the need for more diversified yet customised investment advisory services to protect and grow their wealth has become increasingly important,” says Han. “As a result, we need a team of professionals to deliver wealth management propositions, but also to build on our ambitions as a trusted advisor.”
As one of the largest foreign banks in Singapore, with a total local headcount of about 9,000, Citi has also had to bulk up its middle office.
“Given the increasing regulatory requirements, risk management is another area we have focused our hiring efforts on, in order to offer adequate support to the growth of our business in Singapore,” says Han. “Between 2013 and 2014, for example, we increased our headcount by more than 30% in this function,” he adds, without providing exact staffing numbers.
Consumer banking – a highly competitive sector where global firms like Citi and Standard Chartered face strong competition from the three Singaporean banks – has seen the most dramatic headcount increases. Between 2010 and 2015 there was a 72% rise in new recruits entering the consumer business, says Han.
Citi is also committed to hiring for technology roles in Singapore, despite the wider industry trend towards offshoring roles away from the city state. The US bank has a large operations and technology centre and an innovation lab in Changi Business Park
“Recently, the advent of fintech has profoundly changed the way individuals and businesses conduct their banking activities. As a result of the fintech evolution, banks have had to invest in this area to strengthen their competitive positions and to keep up with the growing affinity for technology,” explains Han.
“This has also led to the need for different types of skills to support banks’ quest for innovative solutions for consumers. We do not have any numbers to share at this stage, but technology is another area that we are focusing our hiring efforts on.”
Han says all banking professionals, not just those in IT jobs, will need to ensure they have the right skills to cope with advances in technology.
“Digitisation will continue playing a big part in transforming people’s lives, particularly in mobile banking. The use of biometrics is also expected to proliferate and become more sophisticated. All this will have a massive influence on banking, and banks who wish to remain in the game will need to be more agile and make customers a priority,” says Han.
“Banking professionals will need to challenge themselves on how their products and services can change in order to embrace the new disruptive technologies and deliver intuitive convenience to customers. This will require them to learn new skills, knowledge and methods of working.”
Image credit: Luciano Mortula, iStock, Thinkstock