By Denise Wee
(Bloomberg) — Citigroup Inc. attracted close to US$15 billion in net new money across its Asia Pacific wealth management business in the first six months of 2021, as hundreds of new hires helped the lender mark one of its strongest half years on record for the unit.
The US bank added US$8 billion in the second quarter, with assets under management up 21% during the first half from a year earlier, according to a statement on Thursday. Citi added several hundred wealth professionals in Hong Kong and Singapore this year, part of its plan to hire 2,300 staff in the Asia Pacific region to grow client assets by US$150 billion by 2025.
“We are capturing market share as Asian clients increasingly require portfolio advice, design and allocation geared toward diversification of asset types and geographic exposures,” Peter Babej, chief executive officer for Citi Asia Pacific, said in the statement.
Citi is joining rivals including HSBC Holdings Plc. and Credit Suisse Group AG in reaping the benefits of beefing up wealth management in Asia since the pandemic to boost fee-based income amid rock bottom interest rates. Credit Suisse increased its relationship managers in Asia-Pacific to 650 from 600 during the first half, according to its results presentation on Thursday.
Asia-Pacific has 831 billionaires, more than any other region, according to a report by UBS Group AG and PricewaterhouseCoopers last year.
The US bank is doubling down on wealth, with a focus on four centers in Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and London, even as it exits retail banking in 13 markets across Asia and the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.
In January, Citi combined its consumer wealth-management and private banking units to form Citi Global Wealth, led by Jim O’Donnell. The bank recently appointed regional private bank head Steven Lo and former Asia-Pacific retail head Fabio Fontainha to lead Citi Global Wealth in Asia.
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