After six years with Deutsche Bank, Richard Ernesti is to return to Asia next month to fill the shoes of outgoing regional head of Citibank's worldwide securities services division, Anthony Galliano.

The top-level hire comes after months of searching for a suitable replacement for Galliano who will be moving on to new pastures within Citigroup.

A seasoned custodian, Ernesti has climbed quickly through the ranks at Deutsche since he joined the bank as head of sales in Asia in Singapore in 1995. Within a few years he was heading the operation in Asia before being seconded back to Deutsche Bank's European offices as global head of client management.

Now with Citibank added to the list, Ernesti's career biography reads like a shopping list of the world's largest custodian banks. He has worked for Chase, where he began his career as a management trainee in 1989, and State Street, where he spent three years in the Tokyo office.

Ernesti's Asian experience obviously appealed to Citibank. It is known that Citibank was courting several candidates for the position including the heads of two of its closest competitors in the Asian market. The challenge for Ernesti will be to prove to Citibank's Asian clients that the bank can act both as a global custodian and a sub-custodian.

While Citibank is reluctant to comment on the changing of the guard until it is made official in a few weeks' time, it is known that Galliano is seeking a job outside of custody and outside of Asia. Rumour has it that after spending more than three years in worldwide securities services in Asia, he is hoping to be rewarded with a coveted country corporate officer post in either Eastern Europe or South America.