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Citi Has Hired 650 Wealth Professionals for Asia Operations in 2021

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By Ben Otto

Citigroup Inc. has hired around 650 wealth professionals for its Asia-Pacific operations this year, part of a strategy focused on Hong Kong and Singapore to boost regional client assets by US$150 billion in the coming years.

The third-largest U.S. bank by assets said Tuesday that the additions included more than 130 relationship managers and private bankers. The hiring is part of previously announced plans to add 2,300 wealth employees, including 1,100 relationship managers and private bankers, to serve wealthy entrepreneuers and their businesses in the fast-growing region.

Citi added more than $5 billion in net new money in Asia in the first quarter, marking one of the bank’s strongest quarters on record. In 2020, it brought in a record $20 billion in regional net new money inflows, taking assets under management for wealthy clients in Asia to roughly $300 billion.

“We are already a wealth management leader in the region, and taking this business to the next level is a strategic priority,” said Peter Babej, chief executive of the bank’s Asia-Pacific operations.

The heightened focus on wealth managment comes as Citi is making plans to exit consumer franchises in 10 Asian markets, marking a shift in strategy under Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser, who took the top job at the company earlier this year.

The Asia-Pacific region has a disproportionately high percentage of the world’s ultra-wealthy individuals. Half of the world’s unicorns, or private companies valued at more than $1 billion, are in Asia, according to the Hurun Research Institute.

Write to Ben Otto at ben.otto@wsj.com