Citi sees $20 billion Asia wealth inflow after hiring hundreds in S'pore, Hong Kong

The new hires helped Citi mark one of its strongest half years on record for the Asia-Pacific wealth management unit.
The new hires helped Citi mark one of its strongest half years on record for the Asia-Pacific wealth management unit.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Citigroup attracted close to US$15 billion (S$20 billion) in net new money across its Asia-Pacific wealth management business in the first six months of 2021, as hundreds of new hires helped the lender mark one of its strongest half years on record for the unit.

The United States bank added US$8 billion in the second quarter, with assets under management up 21 per cent during the first half from a year earlier, according to a statement on Thursday (July 29).

Citi added several hundred wealth professionals in Hong Kong and Singapore this year, as part of its plan to hire 2,300 staff in the Asia-Pacific region to grow client assets by US$150 billion by 2025.

"We are capturing market share as Asian clients increasingly require portfolio advice, design and allocation geared towards diversification of asset types and geographic exposures," Mr Peter Babej, chief executive for Citi Asia-Pacific, said in the statement.

Citi is joining rivals including HSBC Holdings and Credit Suisse Group in reaping the benefits of beefing up wealth management in Asia since the Covid-19 pandemic started to boost fee-based income amid rock-bottom interest rates.

Asia-Pacific has 831 billionaires, more than any other region, according to a report by UBS Group and PricewaterhouseCoopers last year.

The US bank is doubling down on wealth, with a focus on four centres in Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and London, even as it exits retail banking in 13 markets across Asia and the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

In January, Citi combined its consumer wealth management and private banking units to form Citi Global Wealth, led by Mr Jim O'Donnell. The bank recently appointed regional private bank head Steven Lo and former Asia-Pacific retail head Fabio Fontainha to lead Citi Global Wealth in Asia.