Inside Citi’s plan to deploy 4,000 new tech workers to strengthen its back-office and digitize its businesses

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  • Citi plans to fill 4,000 technical positions within its institutional client group this year.
  • The hire comes as Citi improves the technology and operations that underpin its global businesses.
  • The bank said Citi’s embrace of the hybrid work environment should encourage hiring.

A senior Citi executive hopes a group of emerging technologists can help bolster the bank’s technology and operations after the 2020 failure that cost the country’s fourth-largest bank $500 million.

Stuart Riley, global technology head for Citi’s Institutional Clients Group, told Insider that the bank is conducting a massive hiring tour within its group that will add about 4,000 technologists this year. ICG provides investment and corporate banking services to the bank’s largest corporate clients.

The appointment focuses on key areas of Citi’s institutional businesses, including global payments, trade finance and lending, and expands the bank’s global footprint.

“We have hired thousands of technologists who are very focused on how we are improving overall business operations, controls, data, data quality and everything related to our consent mandate. ‘ Riley told Insider.

In October 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency fined Citi $400 million related to gaps in the bank’s risk management and compliance framework and enforced a consent order against Citi, requiring the bank to ” risk management” to invest. . was needed. Data governance and internal controls.”

The consent order stems in large part from an incident in August 2020 when bank employees mistakenly wired nearly $900 million to Revlon’s creditors. Citi was able to recover approximately $400 million.

Insider previously reported that the bug not only prompted regulators to issue a consent order to Citi, but also played a role in the decision to retire then-CEO Michael Corbett.

At Citi’s Investor Day this March, CEO Jane Fraser, who succeeded Corbett in 2021, said that historically, Citi “has not made any significant investments in the elements of our operating model and technology and the associated risks and controls.” Only then did we deal with the complexity of our organizational structure.”

The solution, Fraser said, “is to become a simpler and more governed bank, with an operating model built for the scale and speed of the digital age, and with a leaner organizational structure, being simpler will make us more efficient. “ ”

Since then, the bank has invested significant resources in upgrading its technology, including 5,500 technology staff in 2021, plus an additional 4,000 non-technical staff working on its pending permitting jobs, according to its fourth-quarter earnings report. Hm. The bank spends about $10 billion a year on technology and employs about 30,000 software engineers.

Now City is focused on ICG. The group contributed approximately $44 billion in net revenue in 2021, accounting for more than 60% of the bank’s total revenue for the year.

Riley said Citi’s aggressive technology hiring push is focused on improving the bank’s operations and data management, as well as introducing digital-first products to its corporate clients.

Riley said: “If you look at our key businesses, almost all of them have services that we have either already digitized and want to further improve, or that we now want to digitize. Huh.”

This month, Bloomberg reported ICG employed 4,000 people, adding that 1,000 of them would work in the division’s markets business.

a hot talent market

According to Riley, Citi’s big investment in technology staff this year is a business imperative — and this year has stunned banks and financial firms alike from market volatility.

“It has to deliver an exceptional customer experience, and that straight-through processing means you can run a very controlled environment,” Riley said. “It really forces us to keep investing in technology and it doesn’t matter what happens in terms of external market volatility. We know we need to know about the long-term viability of our business.” This needs to be done today for us and our strategy in the market.”

But Citi isn’t the only bank or fund on the job. As demand for technical staff increases rapidly during the pandemic on both the buy- and sell-side, financial firms have also ramped up the interviewing process to attract software engineers and developers.

“I would say the last 12 months have been the most competitive [hiring] I’ve seen the market in my career as a technologist. I think what’s driving this is that all banks and Citi out there have realized that we need to go digital and accelerate the process of going digital in our core business,” said Riley.

The influx of tech workers into the financial sector, particularly from startups and big tech, has also raised questions about banks’ willingness to bring workers back into the office. Citi’s approach to remote work — Fraser says the bank is adopting a hybrid model for some roles — will be an advantage when it comes to hiring technicians, Riley said.

“The work environment that you provide people with is going to be very important to post-pandemic technologists, both in terms of the flexibility in which they work and the actual environment in which they work,” Riley said.

At Citi, some hires will also be given to teams focused on emerging technologies such as distributed ledger technology, artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML), Riley said. There are hundreds of AI/ML models in various areas of the bank’s business, from fraud detection to payments to customer service, he said.

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