How has Citigroup's International Consumer Banking unit performed during the past 12 months of financial market turbulence? Revenues are up, assets have increased, and deposits have risen. The group has been "managing and growing our business and staying close to our customers during very challenging market conditions," according Maura Markus, evp and head of Citi's international consumer banking effort.
"We continue to bring new products to China, Russia, Japan, and other countries," says Markus. "We're not just hiding our heads in the sand and waiting for things to return to normal-whatever normal means. We're actively engaging with customers, looking at their portfolios and helping them focus on the long-term."
That attitude resulted in some strong numbers for the international consumer banking side of Citi's business. First-half revenue reached $7.6 billion, up eight percent from the first half of 2007. Average deposits climbed 12 percent to $189 billion, while assets under management rose five percent to $109 billion. The group also added four million customer accounts during the first half, a year-over-year increase of nine percent to 52 million accounts.
Markus drew on Citi's resources to assess the appetite of affluent global clients for high-end services. Her group then introduced Citigold Global Banking, an integrated personal banking and wealth management service available to more than one million customers worldwide. In addition, the unit introduced a range of products and services to various country markets, including ruble-denominated structured products to Russia, access to offshore funds to Chinese consumers, and variable annuities to Poland and Greece.
"We're in the consumer space in more than 43 countries, and have expanded our customer base overall, with a net increase in ATMs and other distribution points," Markus notes. "If you look at the last or the next 12 months, the answer is to stay close to our customers. We see growth in investment and insurance product lines, the mass affluent market, and credit and debit cards."
In the long term "there's an emerging middle class in China and India that needs banking services," observes Markus. Citi continues to move forward with mobile banking, online partnerships, and interactive video. "We want to be cutting edge, yet the importance of the human touch remains."
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