Citi hires Goldman banker to head China private banking

Citi hires Goldman banker to head China private banking

Singapore: Citigroup has hired a Goldman Sachs banker to head its China private banking business in another sign of cut-throat competition for private banking talent in Asia.

UBS and Citigroup, the two leaders of Asia’s wealth management business, are facing intense competition from boutiques and Asia-focused players.

But the two are trying to raise their game by hiring experienced bankers and the latest move shows Citi more keen on serving the super rich as Goldman focuses on such clients.

Citigroup’s private bank in Asia, which is led by Aamir Rahim, said the hiring underscores its moves to build and grow its offshore China private banking business, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.

Citi’s private bank, which handles clients who have at least $10 million in assets, manages its private banking for China offshore. In China it serves affluent clients through the consumer bank.

The note said China’s rapid economic growth has created significant private wealth and it sees exciting business opportunities in helping mainland Chinese entrepreneurs manage their offshore assets.

China’s population of millionaires surpassed that of the United Kingdom in 2008, according to Merrill Lynch-Capgemini’s Asia-Pacific Wealth Report in 2009. It had 364,000 millionaires at the end of 2008 with wealth of $1.7 trillion.

The global financial crisis saw the wealth of its millionaires decline by 20.7% in 2008, according to the report.

Hitsch, an executive director at Goldman, was a senior member of the private wealth management team that covered clients in China, according to a source with knowledge of the move.

Harvey Lee, a managing director, heads Goldman’s private wealth management China business.

Hitsch, who gained a doctorate in forestry in his home country of Austria and has MBA from New York University, is a fluent Mandarin speaker. He a permanent resident of Hong Kong.

Goldman Sachs declined to comment.