Citi Seeks New Wealth Management Head

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Citigroup is embarking on a search for a new head for its wealth management unit, according to news reports.

The company will begin its search for a new chief as Jim O’Donnell, who currently holds the position, takes on the role of vice chairman of the bank and head of senior client engagement, Reuters writes, citing a memo from Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser.

O’Donnell will focus on expanding Citi’s business with other financial institutions, including sovereign wealth funds and private equity firms, while continuing to lead the wealth management division during the transition, the newswire reported.

The memo comes as the wealth unit — restructured under Fraser two years ago when ultra-wealthy-focused Citi and more mass-affluent Citigold services — lags its revenue targets, people familiar with the matter tell the Wall Street Journal.

The people also say that O’Donnell and Anand Selva, head of the firm’s consumer banking unit, occasionally “clashed” as Citi tried to merge the two divisions, according to the publication.

Fraser also opted to look for a new head of the wealth unit because she considered O’Donnell’s work setting up and integrating the unit completed, the people told the Journal. Fraser continues to see the unit as an essential source of future revenue, they told the publication.

Last year, the company rolled out its Citi Alliance initiative, which aimed at pulling banking and lending clients who may work with outside advisors into Citi’s wealth management service.

In March 2022, Eduardo Martinez Campos became head of strategic investments at the global wealth management division. In May, Citi appointed Valentin Valderrabano chief operating officer of the global wealth unit.

The bank has also been building out its advisor headcount, reporting an 8% jump between mid-2021 and mid-2022. In August, the bank said it planned to hire 500 wealth management employees for its Wealth at Work initiative. That unit caters to employees of private equity firms, consultancies and accounting companies, hoping to convert them to wealth clients.

Citi’s foray into expanding its wealth management business faced headwinds as markets plunged in 2022, shrinking clients’ portfolios and eating into fees and lowering demand for cross-selling products such as investment-backed loans, the Journal writes.

Citi also saw several private bankers who unhappy about merging with branch-based advisors leave the firm and take their clients with them, people familiar with the matter tell the publication.