Citigroup hires 5,500 young staff in Asia, ahead of 2023 target

Consumer banking operation takes up 48 per cent of overall hires, institutional businesses at 31 per cent and the remainder in support functions. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Citigroup said it has hired 5,500 young employees for its Asia businesses over the past two years, ahead of its target to recruit 6,000 by next year, after stepping up efforts to help cushion the region from soaring youth unemployment amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Consumer banking operation has taken up 48 per cent of the overall hires, followed by 31 per cent for the institutional businesses, with the remainder in support functions, according to a Hong Kong-based spokesman. About 58 per cent of the hires were female.

Asia-Pacific is home to more than half of the world's youth population, estimated at 700 million people. They accounted for almost half of the region's unemployed, even though they make up just 20 per cent of the working-age population, according to the International Labour Organisation.

"Youth are key to Asia-Pacific's Covid-19 recovery and to inclusive growth across the region," Citi's Asia-Pacific chief executive Peter Babej said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Citigroup has been seeking buyers for some consumer franchises in Asia as it reshapes itself around more profitable units like investment banking, and focuses its wealth business in hubs in Hong Kong, London, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

Close to half of the 5,500 were hired across the bank's consumer business, including some markets it plans to exit, and those staff would be offered options such as new jobs within the bank or transfer to the new buyer, said the spokesman.

UOB announced on Monday that it has agreed to buy Citigroup's consumer banking businesses in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam - four of the 16 markets the United States bank is exiting. UOB will also take on 5,000 Citi employees in those four countries.

Citigroup and Citi Foundation have invested more than US$24.5 million (S$33 million) in supporting 49 youth employment programs since 2020, and has pledged to commit $35 million to advance economic opportunities and employability for youth from low-income and underserved communities in the region by 2023.

Global banks including Goldman Sachs Group and Bank of America are also directing more funds and resources to comply with environmental, social and governance objectives.

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