- Citigroup’s investment bank has been showing signs of progress and competing among Wall Street’s best.
- We asked two of the bank’s top executives what they look for when hiring senior investment bankers.
- Performance matters, but it’s not the only thing. “We can’t have people on solo missions,” says Raymond McGuire, Citi’s global head of corporate and investment banking.
Citigroup’s investment bank has been making strides in recent years to compete for top honors in the league tables.
The bank, already a strong performer in arranging bonds and loans, has made marked progress in 2017 in both its mergers-and-acquisitions advisory and equity-capital markets businesses.
One key to Citi’s success is talent — retaining their top performers, but also bringing in star bankers that will fit into Citi’s team culture.
“The foundation to this, the bedrock to this is talent. You have to make certain that you have the talent that is the best trained, that has the best experience, that can exercise the most refined judgment,” said Raymond McGuire, global head of corporate and investment banking, who’s personally involved in every major strategic hire for his department.
Citi has hired more than 20 at the managing director level around the world for its corporate and investment-banking division this year, according to a memo McGuire sent his staff in early November.
And the bank this week promoted 33 staff in its corporate and investment bank to managing director, along with seven staff in capital markets origination.
Business Insider recently spoke with McGuire and Tyler Dickson, the global head of capital markets origination, about what they look for in hiring senior-level bankers:
Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
McGuire’s overall strategy revolves around both attracting and maintaining strong performers who are also “culture carriers” — no solo missions allowed. That means getting involved in every major hire.
“You have to attract and retain the best talent. So for the existing talent, you’ve got to make certain that they continue to perform, that they continue to be engaged and inspired to be the best. And for the talent that you onboard, you have to be really careful about the talent that you onboard. They have to not only be the best practitioners, but they also have to be culture carriers. And we have found that, while we’ve had some challenges, for the most part we’ve been very effective at integrating new people into the culture. In large part, we do that from the outset. I personally get involved in every one of these major strategic hires.
“It’s very clear that you not only have to maintain the best of the existing talent. You cannot ignore that. You have to maintain it, you have to focus on that. And you also have to make sure that the talent that you onboard has got a value system and has got an alignment that is very clear. There should be no ambiguity in terms of what our objectives are. None.”
What question does he ask potential candidates to find out whether they’re the right fit?
“There’s not one question that you ask, there are a series of questions. What kind of character do they have. What kind of client impact. How is that client impact reflected in their performance, historically. And character gets to whether they are a team player or whether or not they’re on solo missions. We can’t have people on solo missions, we need to have people who are prepared to engage as partners.
“We also recognize that you have to have a combination of management and leadership. You have to be able to give people the details on a daily basis on the metrics that we expect for them to manage to. And then you have to be able to inspire them.”
For equity capital markets, Dickson looks for leaders with years of experience and the respect of investors and issuers. But they also have to be comfortable sharing the spotlight.
“In the business of financial services, talent is the most valuable resource, if you can get the best talent. From Citi’s perspective we want the best-in-class, best-performing people in the marketplace. So experience matters. In my case, if we’re looking at the equity capital markets arena, are they leaders with issuer clients? Do they have the respect of investing clients? Do they have years of experience in their sector or subproduct?
“But I’d say what’s also important is culturally for Citi, we’re a firm that succeeds as a team, and so they have to be people who can fit in with Citi’s overarching culture. But also within capital markets, we’re very much a team-wins orientation, and so you need a lot of leadership and energy and inspiration to lead the team, but we want people who think when we’re winning it’s because the team is winning. And I think that the folks that we’ve developed, and I’ve said we’ve been blessed with this consistency, all feel like partners in the business.”