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How to start a banking career at Citi in Asia

Citi is one of the largest recruiters of students and graduates in the Asian banking sector. Each year hundreds of them join the ranks of its 55,000 employees in Asia, a region which contributed 36% of the firm’s global profit last quarter.

If you’re applying for an internship or analyst job at Citi in Asia (click here for application deadlines), the positions on offer may be plentiful, but competition for each one will be immense.

We spoke to Calvin Tay, graduate recruitment lead for APAC at Citi, about how to stand out from the graduate crowd and clinch a job at the US bank in Asia.

How many students do you plan to hire for 2015 summer internships in Asia Pacific?

In 2014 we hired over 250 summer analysts and associates across all countries in Asia Pacific. It’s hard to give an exact number yet for 2015 because we run several programmes spanning across all our businesses – global consumer banking, corporate and investment banking, global markets, trade and transactional services, security fund services, research, operations, and technology – and we offer internships for all of them. Our main hubs, Hong Kong and Singapore, always attract a steady flow of quality students, but increasingly we also have roles in our major growth markets like Indonesia, India and the Philippines.

Aside from excellent academics, what else do you look for in your interns?

We focus on client-centric careers within financial services – the emphasis on service is just as important as on finance. Excellent analytical and quantitative skills are of course required, but we build our culture further through teamwork, ambition and a drive towards excellence. As such, engagement in extra-curricular activities, such as societies or team sports, does become important.

Do interns typically go into full-time analysts jobs?

We pre-select our full-time hires from the top talents within our summer programmes because they have had the opportunity to experience the Citi culture and know there’s a right fit from the start. Again, we have opportunities across all banking areas, but we also offer cross-franchise graduate trainee opportunities that give students a broader exposure and learning.

What advice would you give to final year students who haven’t completed an internship but still want to apply for a traineeship?

Even though the majority of our conversions come from summer finance internships, they are by no means a prerequisite. If you haven’t taken an internship, you need to think about how you will convince interviewers of your interest in the industry. You can prepare through reading, participation in clubs and finance societies, through your interest in the markets, participation in trading competitions or through your selection of courses at university. It’s also worth noting that for technology roles, a technology rather than a finance internship will be very desirable.

Tell us about the assessment process for analyst jobs. And how should people prepare for it?

Our assessment process may be slightly different depending on the business you’re applying to, but it will consist of several rounds of interviews with senior business leaders as well as panel interviews, case studies and assessment centres. Though the process may sound very cumbersome, we focus on finding the right-fit candidate and therefore your personality and ability to address questions outside the box are more important that factual knowledge. You can prepare for this by being curious and up to date with current events, especially in the business field that you’re applying to. Normally within a month of when we close applications you would hear back to see if you have been selected for the next rounds.

How is your Asian recruitment divided up in terms of locations and business areas?

We see Singapore, Hong Kong and China as top locations for internship volumes. Individual countries have their own graduate recruitment teams and run their country-specific programmes. There are also regional product lines – like corporate and investment banking as well as global markets – that hire regionally into their operating hubs. As a region, we prioritise our talent pipelines via two streams: specialist and generalist. The regional product lines are considered specialist streams, while country programmes are generalist and deploy people across our franchise-wide businesses.

Are graduates in Asia becoming more interested in careers in risk and compliance as opposed to the front office?

Yes and there are a lot more opportunities right now in these areas because of the regulatory environment. We’re flexible to creating talent programmes where we can develop students to build careers within these areas. And as opportunities become more available, interest from students also increases.

Which universities and which type of undergraduate degrees do you target in Asia?

In terms of courses, our general preferences would be a finance, mathematics or accounting major. However for technology positions, a tech degree is preferred. We also target the top three or four universities in each of our locations in Asia Pacific.

What makes an internship or traineeships at Citi unique?

The size and global scope of opportunities of Citi have always been a top attracting factor for applicants. And because we offer rotational experiences in both our summer and trainee programmes, we can offer a broad banking learning exposure to candidates, making them more valued players in the industry. A continuous learning process is always a big thing for anyone who joins Citi.

What motivates students in Asia to want to embark on a career in banking?

Asia Pacific by itself is already a very diverse region and there are different preferences that students in each country look for, but it’s safe to say that generally these motivations have shifted from a previously strong focus on job safety and remuneration to a mix of advancement opportunities, people and company culture, and professional training and development.

AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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