The US subprime mortgage crisis has rocked global markets and made risk-averse investors take a second look at the carry trade. However, newly appointed Citi Hong Kong head, Sim Lim, is not too worried. 'Citi is a diverse financial institution and we engage across the breadth and depth of all aspects of the financial markets,' he said at an interview in his office on the 50th floor of Citibank Tower. 'Clearly there will be some impact for many of the leading players in the financial markets. Although the credit markets are re-pricing, Citi remains highly confident in the longer-term strength of global markets.' Mr Lim, a Malaysian Chinese who replaced Chan Tze-ching in May, is taking charge as high drama unfolds in the global economy. Saying that subprime is not a problem with the largest US bank, Mr Lim said Citi will not change its lending policies. 'All businesses go through cycles and we see no major reason to change our business model in providing mortgages,' he said. An expert in money market operations, he also played down the impact of volatility in the carry trade. The carry trade involves investors - from housewives to international hedge funds - borrowing money in countries such as Japan where interest rates are low and investing in currencies of countries with higher interest returns. Recently, hedge funds have had to cover their positions in the carry trade as subprime jitters drained liquidity and curbed gains in currencies such as the yen. 'I don't think that the carry trade itself is a problem. There is a fair amount of speculation and market movements are exacerbated by this,' Mr Lim said. 'As long as this is done transparently and at market rates, it is fair market activity. 'Financial market practitioners will continue to go in and out of such carry trades based on the perceived risk and rewards and the relative value of such trades.' Mr Lim's career in global banking sets him apart from peers in his hometown. While most of his friends travelled the well-worn path of attending universities in Britain, Canada or Australia, Mr Lim was attracted to the super-efficiency of Japan. Japan paved the way for a successful 24 year career in banking. Having started as a management associate with Citi in Malaysia in 1983, he was transferred to Tokyo in 1987. 'Japan has been very good to me - I met my wife, started a family and had a good start to my career,' he said. 'I have immense respect for the Japanese culture and work ethic.' In Tokyo, he worked in a number of roles before becoming head of corporate and consumer bank treasury. He also was posted to New York and Saudi Arabia before returning to Asia as the head of emerging markets sales and trading for Asia Pacific based in Singapore. In May, he replaced Chan Tze Ching, a close friend who had decided to retire. 'My wife is the daughter of a Japanese diplomat, so she travelled and lived around the world when young,' Mr Lim said. 'She thought she would marry someone who would stay put but I dragged her around the world a second time. 'My wife is a full partner; I give her my bonus cheque each year!' Earlier this year, Citi announced its plan to lay off more than 15,000 staff globally but Mr Lim insisted 'the headcount reduction was from a position of strength' and would not affect Hong Kong. 'We continue to need to expand more in the Greater China region,' he said, adding that Citi Hong Kong would have more staff by the end of the year. The booming mainland economy as well a new pilot scheme allowing individual mainlanders to trade Hong Kong stocks would continue to boost markets. But Mr Lim is also targeting a different trail of money - oil-rich investors from the Middle East who would like to invest in Asia and use Hong Kong as a base. Being a foreigner and not a homegrown Hong Kong citizen does not worry Mr Lim in his new job. 'I don't see it's a disadvantage to me, not being brought up in Hong Kong. This is a cosmopolitan city.' Besides work, Mr Lim is very much a family man and spends most of his leisure time with his wife, daughter and son. Yet the banker will not force his children to enter finance. 'I want them to be happy and enjoy whatever they do,' he said. 'If you are passionate about your work, the enthusiasm will show, the long hours won't seem so long and you will excel because you truly enjoy your work.' He also tells them not to worry about money. 'If you are the best in what you do, money will follow.'