Citi has appointed Debashish Dutta Gupta as head of capital markets for the global wealth management and global consumer group businesses in the Asia-Pacific region (ex-Japan).

Dutta Gupta, who joins as managing director, is based in Hong Kong. He will oversee a team of investment specialists providing fixed income, equities, treasury and banking and structured product advisory and transactional services to CitiÆs private banking clients.

Dutta Gupta reports to Shantanu Rastogi, who is head of investments for Citi GWM and manages investments for both GWM and GCG.

Dutta Gupta rejoins Citi from Lehman Brothers where he was a managing director and head of credit trading and structuring for Europe, Middle East and Africa based in London. Dutta Gupta joined Lehman in mid-2007 and was responsible for emerging-market structured credit and hybrid risk trading. At Lehman Dutta Gupta reported to Soroosh Shambayati, head of fixed-income emerging markets for Europe.

Dutta Gupta left Citi as co-head of emerging markets credit trading for the Asia-Pacific region, based in Hong Kong. He was with the US bank for more than 15 years and held positions in India, Singapore and Hong Kong across foreign exchange, treasury, derivatives, credit trading and fixed income.

Dutta Gupta moves into private banking when the industry is facing challenges. Events of the year have made high-net-worth-individuals, both in the region and globally, nervous about who they entrust money to. There has been a flight of money from subprime-affected banks, in favour of institutions such as J.P. Morgan and Julius Baer who are seen as relatively more stable. Client assets under fee-based management globally at Citi dropped 19% to $415 billion at the end of the third quarter, though the bank attributes this mainly to a decrease in market valuations.

Citi's wealth management business in Asia had a difficult third quarter. In the quartely results disclosed on October 16, Citi said that overall wealth management revenues were down 10% compared to the third quarter of 2007, with Asia down 27% quarter-on-quarter. Net income on an overall basis was down 26% q-o-q with net income in Asia down 58%. In its "reduction in force" earlier this quarter, Citi wealth management cut about 30% of the head count, or more than 100 jobs, in the region, say sources.

An equally large challenge is delivering returns on client portfolios in markets which look set to remain dislocated through 2009. HNWIs have seen their portfolios take massive hits this year, as few asset managers predicted the scale of the market mayhem. Many firms are now adopting a defensive strategy of suggesting mostly fixed income investments, at least until some stability returns to markets. But with fears of inflation shadowing the world, even this may not be a long-term solution.