Banking & Finance

Citibank wealth management unit sees client growth for 2017

The bank said its digital transactions were gaining traction amid a 20 per cent drop in teller and phone transactions

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 July, 2017, 6:12pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 July, 2017, 10:55pm

Citigold, Citibank’s wealth management service, said it was expecting a third straight year of double-digit client growth this year, on the back of the 9-per cent increase as of May.

Lawrence Lam, head of retail banking of Citibank global consumer banking, said they were confident in reaching a 13-per cent target for 2017, following 11 per cent and 13 per cent growths in 2016 and 2015 respectively.

“Among all the Citigold clients, about one-third is offshore customers from places such as the mainland, Philippines and Taiwan. Among the offshore customers, about half of them are from the mainland,” said Lam.

“We are not particularly focused on mainland customers,” Lam added. “Just that our [business] orientation and service attracted clients from different regions.”

Lam said digital and mobile banking were also gaining traction among clients.

“The bank had a 20 per cent drop in the number of teller and phone transactions, while the number of automatic teller machines (ATM) and digital transactions increased,” he said.

“But the growth of ATM transactions was even slower than that of digital and mobile banking transactions, which witnessed a 20 per cent growth year-on-year as of May.”

On the usage of the bank’s eStock platform, Lam said close to 90 per cent of the bank’s transactions were conducted outside the branch network, while 98 per cent of stock trading transactions were done on the online and mobile channels.

“The bank intends to develop artificial intelligence to answer simple questions from clients,” he said, referring to Citi AI digital assistant.

Lam said that was not to say it was not focused on people, as they were still heavily investing on human resources.

The bank intends to develop artificial intelligence to answer simple questions from clients
Lawrence Lam, Citibank

“We had a 10 per cent net increase in staff last year, particularly in relationship management (RM) [space]. Our double-digit growth in clients means we have no pressure to cut staff. We will also cooperate with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to train staff,” he said.

“Even so, our client to RM staff ratio is still lower than that of major banks in the city.”

Lam declined to reveal the number of relationship managers they have, or the industry standards.

While the bank strives to diversify clients’ portfolios, Lam said Hong Kong’s clients preferred investing in property, finance and technology assets, while mainland clients preferred technology and energy assets.

He also shrugged off worries arising from the mainland’s controls on capital outflows.

“The measures did not have significant impact on the number of mainland clients we have.”