Mind Your Business: Citi’s Money K on the growing prominence of private banking

Money K, Citi’s global head of Global Client Service (GCS) affirms the bank’s dedication to stellar international wealth management

Editor’s note: See more Mind Your Business stories here.

Wealth. Globality. In their varied abstract and concrete terms, both have never been more interrelated than they are now. By extension, the demands of global wealth management have never been more extensive as they are today. With a legacy that spans more than two centuries, Citi is well-poised to be the definitive answer to those needs and concerns. Here’s Money K, the global head of the GCS, one of Citi Private Bank’s fastest-growing businesses, on why you can count on the world’s most global bank to serve your cross-border banking needs.

Can you give us some background on Citi Private Bank and its Global Client Service?

The Private Bank serves clients with a net worth of at least $25 million. Many of our clients are billionaires and centi-millionaires, including some of the world’s wealthiest families. Often their family, business and wealth footprints are global i.e. they have family members living overseas, their businesses are geographically diverse, and they have wealth assets around the world. For this demographic, it’s hard to find one bank that can serve them globally.

In being the world’s most global bank, Citi is in an advantageous position to bank such families. Citi’s legacy stretches back more than 200 years and we have a physical presence in 95 countries and jurisdictions with the ability to do business in around 160 markets worldwide.

The role of the Global Client Service Team is to connect the dots for our clients. We help structure a global coverage team of bankers and financial specialists to serve their needs from global cities such as New York, Los Angeles, London, Geneva, Singapore and Hong Kong, just to name a few.

How are the current geopolitical tensions and choppy economic conditions affecting private banking?

Times of uncertainty and volatility are when clients and their family offices need us most. This is when they are looking for diversification, risk management and investing ideas for opportunistic returns. They are seeking strategic advice and global access from our private bankers and investment counsellors.

To mitigate the volatility in the capital markets, clients can turn to a firm as global as Citi for advice and ideas. Through our Global Client Services teams, clients have the benefit of access to tailored advice worldwide.

Why is global private banking so important to Citi?

Citi’s vision is to be the pre-eminent banking partner for institutions with cross-border needs, and a global leader in wealth management.

Citi Global Wealth, which includes the Private Bank, is one of the strategic business pillars of this vision. The growth of our unified wealth business is critical to Citi’s overall success.

The population of ultra-high net worth individuals continues to grow even in tepid economic times. Some of these clients are owners of Fortune 500 companies. They are the billionaires.

Such clients need banking, lending, wealth planning, and investments, including both advisory and discretionary investments. Their needs are generally larger and more sophisticated in scale compared to the needs of retail clients. In addition, their needs are often global in nature requiring a bank with global coverage. This is exactly the proposition of Citi Private Bank.

Photo by Citi Private Bank

What is Citi’s competitive advantage over other banks?

Our competitive advantage cannot be defined by a single attribute. I would say that it’s a combination of three compelling aspects of Citi. One, our global footprint. Two, our holistic product platforms across banking, lending, wealth planning and investments. Three, the concept of One Citi – how the private bank and our institutional businesses collaborate with one another to serve our top clients such as billionaires, whose needs are often on an institutional scale.

What are some new patterns of wealth management you’re observing?

We’re seeing several trends but I would like to highlight three specifically.

One. The next generation coming into wealth. They are in their 20s, 30s, 40s, a lot of whom are entrepreneurs. They’re not just in the United States but spread across the world. And within this group we are witnessing a growth in more women entrepreneurs and wealth creators with differing investment behaviours and preferences such as a greater focus on ESG investing.

Various studies estimated that about $80 trillion in wealth is expected to be transferred to the next generation by 2050 or sooner. This has been dubbed as “The Great Wealth Transfer”.

Two. Family Offices. Many of our wealthier clients are establishing family offices to streamline and professionalise their wealth management. Some of these family offices are going global. They are setting up subsidiaries in the US, Europe and Asia to diversify their investment strategies. For these family offices, working with a global private bank such as Citi has its advantages.

Three. The retiring baby boomer generation. Their priorities are changing. Their focus is not so much wealth creation but wealth preservation and wealth transfer to the next generation. They are spending more time on wealth planning, insurance, philanthropy, and matters related to preserving the family legacy.

What’s it like running a global office from Singapore?

Citi is a global, multipolar organisation. Our global headquarters in in New York, but we have global centres of excellence in different continents including North America, Europe and Asia.

I am a Singaporean, born and raised here, and with family here. For me, it is convenient to be in Singapore for personal reasons.

Managing a global business out of Singapore is complemented by the multiple tools that have helped to dramatically reduce the tyranny of distance such as Zoom. That’s how I keep in touch with my team, which is spread across eight cities. On occasion, travel is necessary to meet colleagues and clients in person.

Naturally, time differences can be tricky.  It is often night-time in Singapore when we have global meetings. The trick is to plan well and confine global conference calls to a few times a week.

Lastly, you’ve been in the Citigroup for 24 years. In this time, what are some areas the bank has shown exemplary strength in?

I think Citi is exemplary in its collaborative culture, innovative approach, diversity, and global mindset. The diverse and global nature of the bank makes it an exciting place to work in. Here, you work with people of so many different nationalities. Citi is a true melting pot. It celebrates diversity and inclusion.

In the 24 years I’ve been here, I’ve had a different role about every four years. I started off in public affairs, then moved to the private bank into a regional marketing role which expanded in geographical coverage over the years. Since 2021, I have led the Global Client Service. There is never a boring day in Citi!