Citi Private Bank branches out with first regional CIO

The firm has hired John Woods from a London-based alternatives firm as it seeks to broaden its investment research and strategy capabilities in Asia-Pacific.
Citi Private Bank branches out with first regional CIO

Citi Private Bank has appointed its first chief investment officer for Asia-Pacific in a drive to broaden its advisory offering and tailor its regional asset allocation services for clients.

John Woods officially started at the firm in September, although his arrival at Citi has only just been confirmed. He was previously a partner at alternative asset management firm Lincoln Vale in London where he traded Asian equities and fixed income.

He has also worked as a portfolio manager at RAB where he traded currencies. He began his career in London at HSBC where he has held several positions including head of credit research and strategy and head of absolute returns proprietary trading.

Woods’ breadth of experience across asset classes evidently appealed to Citi, which is striving to expand the scope of its client services, including broadening its investment research and strategy capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.

Based in Hong Kong, Woods is now looking to hire a portfolio manager to work with him in Hong Kong. He reports to global CIO Richard Cookson and Asia-Pacific head of investments Debashish Dutta Gupta.

“Citi Private Bank has never really had an Asian CIO before,” says Dutta Gupta. “In line with the growing importance of Asia and emerging markets in general, we will now be talking about Asia and emerging market-specific asset allocation. This will be a much more Asian-centric product.”

One of Woods’ responsibilities will be writing his views for the private bank’s first Asia-focused Quadrant research publication, due monthly as a complement to its global offering. He will also write episodic thematic pieces.

Woods will be supported by Citi’s newly established investments lab – an in-house think-tank providing investment ideas and analytics – as well as the bank’s secondary research analysts in credit, equities and foreign exchange.

Dutta Gupta adds that the private bank is also seeking to add Asia-focused discretionary portfolio services to clients next year. “We will have Asia-specific portfolios, which will be guided by our regional CIO office,” he says.

Plus the firm will examine opportunities to invest in China-oriented private-equity funds, a South Asia private-equity fund (either in India or Indonesia), and real estate in India or China.

The appointment of Woods comes after Citi Private Bank lost equity portfolio strategist Norman Villamin to the Royal Bank of Scotland in June this year. He joined RBS as head of its investment strategy in Asia, based in Singapore, in what was also a new role at the firm.

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