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Is Citi the Place to Be?

Call it what you like, Citi (formerly Citigroup) is doing well. Does that make it a good place to work? Not everyone's convinced.

Last week the Financial Times ran a flattering profile of Citi, pointing out the world's biggest bank is now a force to be reckoned with in sectors ranging from M&A to corporate finance. This week, Financial News followed suit, saying the bank has "proved itself," "fine-tuned the use of its balance sheet" and employs "an increasingly impressive team of investment bankers."

With profits up nearly 50 percent in the first half of 2007 and Citi ranking second in this year's global M&A league tables, according to Dealogic, there's little denying the bank has become a big beast in M&A. But headhunters say there are still plenty of reasons to steer clear.

"Citi might look healthier according the league tables, but I don't sense any increase in happiness or stability there," says an M&A search consultant. "It's a huge machine run out of the U.S., which is fine in the current environment. But when the downturn comes it's stuck with a huge cost-base."

In fairness, Citi's already dealing with the bloat: One London derivatives headhunter says the bank is offering voluntary redundancies as part of its effort to cut 17,500 jobs globally. However, he says there's still plenty of dead wood and gaps to be filled: "They've got a phenomenal ABS business, but despite hiring Michael Raynes last year as global head of structured credit, they are still weak across credit and rates."

"If you want an easy life working in a bottom tier-one firm, Citi is the place to go," he adds. "But if you're young and hungry, you're better off elsewhere."

"They're one of the success stories - if not the success story - of recent years," counters Jonathan Baines, chairman of search firm Whitehead Mann, and a client of Citi. "They are the organization that has made universal banking work. Ten years ago if you'd asked me to identify the world-class bankers at Citi in Europe, I could probably have counted them on one hand. Now they are right up there with the very best of the investment banks."

Financial News points out that the plaudits may not last. Citi owes a large part of its recent increase in profits to principal transactions (prop trading). No matter how many times it changes its name, it may prove hard to maintain that level of income if markets turn.

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AUTHORAnonymous Insider Comment
  • Je
    Jenny
    16 August 2007

    I also worked for CitiFinancial and it was the worst US company I ever worked for - by far. The morale was extremely low, the best managers quit, many people were fired. The only people left are the ones who couldn't find work elsewhere and the IT consultants from India.

  • ra
    rahul roy
    13 August 2007

    they just boladted $700 million dollars... god bless um..

  • De
    Denise Smith
    9 August 2007

    I worked for Citifinancial it is one the most
    un-organisted banks that I have ever worked for. Very hard Corporation to work for

  • Ph
    Phil
    30 July 2007

    Citi is the turtle, and the turtle always wins the race. That's because Citi can make money in every line of business, in every region of the world, and when one is sagging, something else lifts up the earnings. Instead of trying to be the flavor of the month, Citi covers its bets and produces nice steady income. Love that dividend!

  • Jo
    John-Dallas
    30 July 2007

    Dumb, the headhunters comments that is. While certainly not as lean and mean as others, nor currently as in vogue...this current incarnation of the New York bank will continue to keep going.

    Let's face it...prop trading and FICM's will take a firm a long way... and they do a hell of a job and make money in these areas-regardless of market. Thier size and scope of businesses make a fairly effective all market hedge.

    Let's see how many of the current "in vogue's" look when treasuries rally by two points, yeild curve returns to traditional spreads, Private Equity puts/LBO activity stagnates, and with it the "irrational exuberence" level of M&A activity. While certainly not immune...Citi would still whether this unfortunate, but (eventually) impending storm.

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