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As global head of Citigroup’s Citi Private Bank for the past two and a half years, Ida Liu’s job is all about juggling the multigenerational needs of the private bank’s client families.
That means thinking about clients’ family trees and helping them plan legacies, inheritances and business successions. Working with multiple generations is at the core of the strategy. “We’re in the midst of one of the biggest wealth transfers in history,” Liu said. Citi wants to smooth that transfer by working with both the older customers bequeathing the wealth and the younger clients receiving it — and hopes to keep assets under Citi’s management.
Because many people relate best to those around the same age, Liu has assigned senior bankers to work with family matriarchs and patriarchs, and more junior bankers to work with younger generations. “They like talking to their peers, and nuances and preferences often differ,” she said.
For instance, younger clients prefer using technology for everything they can, such as opening an account or completing a transaction virtually to create seamless ease. They also want to do good with their dollars, so impact investment is popular. “Environment and gender equity are front and center,” Liu said, as are clean energy and sustainable food channels. She noted that Citi has a platform for impact investing, and the portfolios the bank develops for clients using this platform can be highly customized based on what is important to them.
“We have a client who wanted to express a point of view against plastics use, so we built a portfolio of 30 companies to express that view,” Liu said. “Another client wanted to invest in woman-owned companies.”
The offering younger clients seem to appreciate the most is the networking that Citi provides. The bank connects clients who are in similar positions and allows them to share best practices, develop leadership and learn about investing. Becoming responsible for substantial wealth is a big adjustment for nearly anyone, and younger clients value the chance to talk about their experience with peers. “The network offers a safe place with like-minded people,” Liu said.
Clients also value the guidance Liu’s team can offer them, particularly during 2023’s turbulent market, rising interest rates and high inflation. “We’re doing tons of steering for clients, guiding them and making sure they’re positioned and repositioned correctly,” Liu said.
In addition to her work as global head of Citigroup’s Citi Private Bank, Liu also co-leads the bank’s Asian affinity network. “Only 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs are Asian, and they are mostly South Asian, not East Asian,” Liu said.
She feels that this is at least in part because of cultural expectations that East Asians will be humble and modest, in addition to working hard. Through mentorship programs, educational outreach and best-practice seminars, the affinity network hopes to encourage people from all Asian backgrounds to speak up, talk about their accomplishments, take risks and ask for what they want.