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Citi wants to keep directors happy after big hiring of new MDs

Not unlike Deutsche Bank, Citigroup has shown a recent propensity for adding new senior people from outside the bank. There are signs that it's making efforts to keep its existing staff happy as a result.

In last week's presentation of its second quarter results, Citi said it's introduced a process for promoting managing directors (MDs) that creates "greater process consistency and transparency across the firm."

What does this new process involve? We asked Citi, and it was unable to elaborate, but a more apt question might be why Citi felt its MD promotion process needed to be made more transparent anyway. After years of hiring MDs externally, it's conceivable that the bank felt a need to validate the fairness of its processes for promoting internally. 

Citi announces its managing director promotions in December. In December 2022, it promoted 331 people to MD, of whom a third were women. In December 2021, it promoted 306 people, of whom 35% were women. In 2020, it promoted only 241 people, of whom 29% were women.

The good news, then, is that Citi's MD classes have been on an upwards trajectory. However, it's also been busy ingesting MD talent from elsewhere: seventy MDs were added in 2020 alone and MD recruitment has continued (albeit at a slower pace) in 2023, with new banking MDs (eg. Greg Dalle from Credit Suisse) joining this year (following the arrival of Jens Welter in December), alongside new senior people in risk and controls.

While new people have been arriving, existing Citi MDs have been leaving involuntarily. Citi's global FX strategy team was unexpectedly dismantled in June. Global markets strategist Matt King was let go around the same time, and subsequently proclaimed his intention of spending this summer reading books in the garden. 

Citi directors who don't have the luxury of relaxing may question whether it's easier to make MD by leaving the bank and rejoining in a few years than by working their way up the pole internally. It's a question that might apply equally at Deutsche Bank, but after the promotion review Citi people are presumably at least now clear on what's needed if they're to make the MD class of 2023. 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Do
    26 July 2023

    If the "process" (for promoting MDs) is anything like that at the very large retail/investment/too-big-to-fail bank where I used to work it will involve:

    • tenure
    • size of role ($ revenues, # people managed etc)
    • fuzzy "visibility" ratings, i.e. networking skills
    • the cynic in me says there are some equality and diversity aspects too.

    But, very often, new heads of businesses are brought in from outside when management feels the need. When that happens, they are likely given free-reign to hire whoever they want -- and usually those are the people they used to work with previously, often as MDs. Hence the griping among those who sit just below the MD level who feel the process is a bit of a slap in the face for their efforts.

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