Citibank Institutional Hiring Plan Is Part of A Larger Effort

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Citigroup's latest hiring announcement seems no fluke. A firm that was on the brink of failure at the height of the financial crisis now seems sincerely determined to build up its workforce and bulk up in areas as disparate as institutional securities and private banking.

Moreover, Citi plans to ramp up on-campus recruiting as much as 75 percent this fall, sources tell eFinancialCareers.

Citi means to hire no less than 500 bankers and traders over the next two years to strengthen its securities business and make up the ground lost to its rivals during the financial crisis, the Financial Times reported recently.

"As the US group continues to recover from its crisis-time woes, one of its main focuses will be to boost its investment banking and trading offerings to companies and investors around the world, according to people inside the company," the FT said.

A Citigroup spokeswoman has since confirmed the company was hiring for its institutional clients group, adding that those hires would be made across various units and geographies. But the latest hiring effort is just one of several moves forward for the firm, which required $45 billion of government funds during the financial crisis to avoid collapse.

Clearly, things are improving for Citi-the nation's third largest bank based on assets. As of December, the government is no longer a Citigroup shareholder, and the bank has now reported five straight quarters of profit.

In recent months, Citi's securities business has made new headway, as Citi is among the underwriters on the listing of global commodities trader Glencore-one of London's biggest listings ever. Citi also worked on the $4.4 billion initial public offering by the US healthcare group HCA Holdings.

Beyond that, sources say that Citi plans to increase its on-campus hiring by as much as 50 to 75 percent this fall compared to 2010, and recruiters outside the company seem optimistic as well. "They're looking to bulk up in certain industries, such as technology and energy," Richard Lipstein of Boyden Executive Search in New York tells eFinancialCareers.

Last fall it was guestimated that Citi might reward former UBS energy banker Stephen Trauber with as much as $30 million over three years.

"They also want to expand in emerging markets," says Lipstein, observing that Citibank is already "the best-known American bank" in emerging markets such as Asia and Latin America.

Finally, while Citi was quick to clarify that the 500 new hires it had budgeted for over the next couple of years would all be all be institutional client professionals, Lipstein says that "their private bank has been hiring," too, and that Citi is being particularly aggressive in that arena now that wealth management powerhouse Smith Barney is no longer part of the organization.

So what's it like to actually work for the firm? New hires are generally pleased, says career coach Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio, co-founder of SixFigureStart, who spent 15 years recruiting at Citigroup before starting her own counseling firm.

"I've done a lot of coaching of MBAs who've considered Citi; some of them are working there and they love it. Not only that, but the company has been spending more and more money on training and "is recruiting like gangbusters," says Thanasoulis-Cerrachio.

Clearly, says Lipstein "Citi is a better place to go now," than in the past. The company "did not fall apart as some expected," and is moving ahead quite capably.

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