Returning for the second year in a row as Company of the Year (Banking), their third such win, Citibank has been rightly awarded for their commitment to innovation in every aspect of their business and their commitment to supporting and nurturing their staff. With many fantastic products and services launched this year and more in the pipeline, Citibank simply goes from strength to strength.
Digital trends in banking are not restricted to any one type of customer but are universal, and we as a bank believe that we must evolve ourselves to utilize these channels and serve our customers more effectively.
“What sets Citibank apart is that we have made our strategic choice ever since we first arrived in Hong Kong to focus on affluent segments and wealth management banking. To this end, we have structured our bank, our people, our infrastructure, and our services around that segment. As nothing truly great is built overnight, I feel this dedication and consistency of mission is the key to our success,” says Angel Ng, Country Business Manager for Citibank in Hong Kong.
Citibank is able to satisfy the needs of customers across all segments. “We have created different strategies and services depending upon the customer’s wealth. For example, a new segment called Citigold Private Client was established to serve customers with an average wealth under management with Citibank of at least US$1 million. This group of customers has accumulated enough wealth with the bank, and they are looking for portfolio management and diversification as well as legacy planning solutions,” said Ng.
“We have also launched another new Wealth Counseling Tool called Portfolio360 where our portfolio consultants and relationship managers work with customers on how to better allocate their wealth among different geographies, asset classes, and risk levels. This way they can maximize not just the return but also maintain a reasonable level of risk that customers are comfortable with.”
“A further service is our equity recommendation which very few retail banks in Hong Kong offer. Through our customer survey that we conduct in Hong Kong, we found that about 90% of affluent individuals in Hong Kong trade stock personally. They make their decisions based off of newspaper reporting or word of mouth, but they seldom receive professional advice from banks like Citibank. We decided that this was a prime niche with which to serve our customer base better. Through our services, customers can discuss individual stocks with our investment consultants, and our consultants will base their recommendation on our best-in-class research.”
“Citigold as a service is our bread and butter. This product is for those customers who have wealth of HK$1.5 million and are still accumulating assets. This class of customer has not accumulated the same wealth of Citigold Private Clients and so have different needs and a different mindset. To better serve these clients, we have rolled out our Citigold Financial Planning which is a very goal oriented tool. We ask customers what their life goals are and how much they believe they will need to achieve those goals. Based upon those answers, we plug that information into the tool and then help the customer plan where to invest as well as choose a proper level of risk based upon the customer profile and expectation of return.”
For these new services and Citibank’s dedication to its customers, the company was also awarded Outstanding Achiever in Customer Insight and Service Innovation at the BENCHMARK Wealth Management Awards. Citibank achieved the award for Customer Insight largely through its work reducing the average customer loading of relationship managers by fully 30% which “allows our relationship managers to give our customers a greater share of their time, and more importantly, far more attention and care,” said Ng.
“New customers to Citigold can also choose their own relationship manager who fits their profile based on either the RM’s background in wealth management or even their hobbies to ensure that customers and RMs enjoy not only a good business relationship, but also a solid personal relationship. We believe this more personal approach matters a lot in the wealth management industry and is what sets Citibank apart from the competition.”
“Needless to say, beyond the consumer bank, we are also a private bank, so based upon the One Citi spirit, we offer customers other suitable services in our private bank. This is how we manage and take care of all of our customers along the wealth continuum.”
Setting the Customer Free
It is clear that Ng has made sure that customer satisfaction and happiness has been prioritized at every level, continuing the work of her predecessors in this regard. “Products are only a small part of the whole wealth management concept. If one looks at our history, we were the very first bank in the market to launch what we called Priority Banking Services. Our Citigold Priority Banking service was launched as far back 1982, and back then this type of service was more about customer service than products, consisting of a dedicated queue and more privileges such as complimentary coffee and a place to sit and relax while they wait. Then in 2001, we re-engineered the entire priority banking service into the wealth management banking service. Again, this began as more service-oriented, but we began to add more product elements to the package. Through this, we have been able to offer a wider suite of solutions and avenues for customers to grow their wealth.”
“Our focus here at Citibank is to offer customers a set of tools so that they may grow their wealth how they want to, at the rate they want to, and at the risk level they are comfortable with.”
Recognizing the importance of employee support and engagement in today’s hectic market, Citibank was awarded Best-in-Class for Training and Development which Ng credits good, old-fashioned hard work. “Citibank also puts a great deal of time and resources into talent development as wealth management banking is all about people. It’s all about how effective our relationship manager is in serving our customers, and we have spent a lot of time in recruiting and training our people as well as enabling them to excel.”
To further support the development of Citibank’s employees in the wealth management business, they have devised a program with the Wharton Business School in the USA with business and executive training, offered to their high-fliers in Asia-Pacific. According to Ng, supporting employees’ professional development not only means better retention rates, but also improved customer service and greater success for the company, a win-win for everyone involved.
Integrating New Technology
To build upon Citibank’s success in customer service, the company has also been keen to promote FinTech as, in the words of Ng, “90% of banking transactions are now done outside of the branch. At the same time, 40% of our affluent-oriented credit cards are applied for through digital channels.”
One way that Citibank embraces FinTech is through the Citi Mobile Challenge,” an event where we invite different industry professionals and tech developers to give us new and innovative ideas on how to properly deploy FinTech for the benefit of our customers.” Started in the US, this bringing together of the top minds in the field has been rolled out across the world, and Ng was very excited for some of the policies currently being devised based on the recommendations of those who attended.
“Digital trends in banking are not restricted to any one type of customer but are universal, and we as a bank believe that we must evolve ourselves to utilize these channels and serve our customers more effectively.” BM
伍燕儀亦表示，花旗銀行有能力滿足不 同客戶群的所需：「我們會根據不同客戶 財富資產及其理財需要來制定相應策略及服 務。例如，我們設立了新的『花旗私人客戶 業務』(Citigold Private Client)，以向在花旗 銀行平均資產最少有一百萬美元者提供專屬 服務。這個客戶群已經在本行累積了足夠財 富。現在他們需要投資組合管理及分散投 資，以及遺產規劃等方案。」
「Citigold 服務是我們收入的重要來 源。這項服務專為已擁有一百五十萬港元 資產，而仍在累積資產中之客戶而設。這個 級別的客戶暫未累積到花旗私人客戶業務的資產水平，故他們的需求和思路亦不盡相同。為此，我們推出目標主導的財富策劃服務，以滿足這批客戶需要。我們會先諮詢客戶的人生目標，以及他們認為要賺到多少方能滿足其需求，然後我們會在系統中輸入相關信息，並據此協助客戶制定投資策略，並為客戶選定最符合其狀況及回報預期之風險水平。」
伍燕儀續指：「Citigold 的新客戶，更 可以根據客戶經理的財富管理背景甚至業餘 興趣，來選擇夥拍符合其個人狀況的客戶經 理。客戶們藉此和經理們不僅可成為業務上 的好夥伴，更可以培養深厚的個人關係。我 們相信這種個性化的服務在財富管理行業更 為重要，也是花旗銀行得已在同業間脫穎而 出的主因。」
正努力地承接前任重大職責的伍燕儀，在各 層級確保優先滿足客戶需要及福祉：「產品 只是財富管理概念的一小部份。若果有回顧 我們的歷史，會發覺我們是業界最先推出優 先理財服務的銀行。『Citigold 優先理財』 服務自一九八二年已開始推出，當年這類服 務主要更像是顧客服務而非產品，包括擁有 專屬排隊行列，以及其他專享禮遇如免費咖 啡及等候時客戶有休息的地方。2001年，我 們重組整個優先理財服務，並整合至銀行財 富管理服務之中。同樣地，開始時亦比較集 中專注服務層面，但我們在其中逐漸引入更 多產品元素。藉此，我們可以向客戶提供更 多方案及途徑來為自已的財富增值。」
為進一步培訓從事財富管理業務的員 工，銀行方面與美國華頓商學院（Wharton Business School）合作，為亞太地區業績佳 者提供客戶經理提供商務及行政培訓課程。 伍燕儀指，支持員工的個人職業發展不但可 挽留人才，更可改善服務，最終達至雙贏。
花旗銀行其中一個引入金融科技的方 式，是通過Citi Mobile Challenge活動：「我 們通過這次活動，邀請不同行業專才及技術 開發人才，就如何引入金融科技可更佳服務 客戶，為我們提供創新想法。」這個活動由美 國開始，歷來匯集不少頂尖人才，當中不少 意念已經在全世界實行。伍燕儀更自豪地表 示，出席者們提供的建議不少已被納入草擬 的政策中。