Financial Planning / Wealth Management

Model of excellence

by Charles Mak

Maria Leung
director of Citigold Private Client
Citibank Hong Kong
Photo: Louis Lam

Banking service fit for kings and queens

Much akin to the causality dilemma, employers across the board often struggle to configure a new staff mix to create a nurturing condition for a new business line to quickly perform to expectations. This has not been the case of Citibank.

When Citibank launched its Citigold Private Client (CPC) service in April last year, there already was a full complement of CPC bankers with ready hands to assist Hong Kong's high net worth banking customers with myriad choices.

The scope of the bank's CPC services encompasses the convenience of retail banking and the expertise of private banking, giving customers proprietary access to the services from all business branches under the Citi roof. They are also showered with a colourful array of privileges including investment dinners and seminars plus a suite of exclusive lifestyle events.

Backed by an army of seasoned financial advisors, portfolio counsellors, treasury portfolio consultants and financial planning consultants, alongside the bank's regional and global specialists in trust services, trade, insurance and investment banking, the bulk of the CPC team's duty is to ensure that client decisions are guided by expertise and a thorough understanding of their financial aspirations and goals.

"At Citigold Private Client, we have a large team of seasoned bankers, each of whom boasts on average more than 15 years of experience in the field or with Citibank, to help clients take care of their wealth," points out Maria Leung, director of Citigold Private Client, Citibank Hong Kong.

Skills and attributes

Today's bankers are expected to be in their best suits and a demeanour that suggests professionalism and trustworthiness. They should exude a superlative level of self-confidence and perhaps more importantly conduct themselves with integrity and in a manner that reflects positively on the image of not only the bank but also of the profession and the wider banking community, Ms Leung emphasises. "A private banker is capable of cultivating a constructive long-term relationship with clients by keeping a keen client focus and exercising superlative interpersonal skills. Substantial work experience and client relations are indispensable."

She points out that a passion for the job essentially differentiates true professionals from the mediocre. "Regardless of industries, continuous learning is an important aspect for one's career development and advancement," she remarks.

At Citibank, on-the-job experience complements classroom learning in addition to mentorship, coaching and a buddy system to boot. "All this contributes to a supportive environment for our staff to excel at the job but staff must take initiative to acquire new skills and pursue academic and professional credentials," she stresses.

As part of a quality assurance mechanism, the bank's new employees for front line positions are required to complete more than two months of initial training in compliance, service, investment knowledge and products towards fulfilment of a stringent local and regional certification process.

"Our bankers are provided with the best training and support for their next step up the corporate ladder and in life," she notes, adding that career success in the banking industry is never accidental. "A pleasant and positive disposition helps."

Above par

A pioneer in its own right, Citibank never shies away from challenging the status quo. In 1982, for instance, the bank became the first financial institution in Hong Kong to roll out its Citigold Priority Banking service and subsequently turned it into the city's first wealth management banking service Citigold Wealth Management at the turn of the millennium in view of the Hong Kong's burgeoning affluent population and the rising demand for yield-enhancing financial products and services.

And with more than 3,500 branches in more than 100 worldwide locations, the bank's global footprint means increased convenience and peace of mind to its clientele.

"Our innovative streaks and global presence give us an advantage in the international marketplace," says Ms Leung. Despite this, the bank is not ready to rest on its laurels. "We set the bar high and will continue to do so."

Over the years, the bank has earned a number of industry credentials and prestigious accolades including top nods from the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards.

"The HKIB helps the industry to uphold and promote the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct, and enhance the overall operating environment for the local banking and finance industry," concludes Ms Leung. "The Awards provide an avenue for banking and finance institutions and their personnel to exchange ideas by engaging in a healthy competition. The HKIB is a true catalyst for professional excellence."


Taken from Career Times 5 August 2011, A2
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