How Ida Liu, Global Head of Citi Private Bank, is taking a family first approach to shape a business for generations to come
Most bosses like being listened to, but for Ida Liu, Global Head of Citi Private Bank, the devil really is in the details – which is why she prioritises listening. The result is a string of awards for one of the most respected private banks in the world. “It is critical for leaders to be phenomenal listeners,” she says. “To listen more than you actually speak and to take in all the perspectives and important viewpoints from everyone to help you shape the strategies for tomorrow. I’ve always been a player-coach, I’ve sat in my team’s shoes and that mentality of being humble and standing side-by-side with your team is incredibly important.”
“It is critical for leaders to be phenomenal listeners.”
Delivering generational success is a core goal of the business and this family-approach strategy is setting the institution up for success not just for decades to come, but generations in the future. Citi Private Bank has recognised modern families are global families, with varying views and outlooks which need to be understood for meaningful business to be done. “We adopted the apprenticeship model in our business, which is where we have senior bankers partnered with the junior bankers and associate bankers covering the multiple generational family members, because oftentimes, you’ll find next gen clients or millennial clients like to talk to individuals who are of that generation and understand the needs and preferences of that generation,” says Ida. As well as a holistic approach, understanding each person within the family is also important, “Every single client family has a very unique set of expectations, criteria, needs, likes and wants with the way that they’re investing so we’re highly customised. For example, we’ve noticed on the topic of next gen and millennials, they tend to invest with more of a ESG [environmental, social, and corporate governance] angle – they want to invest with purpose, invest with passion, invest in a way that does good for the world and for humankind. We’re here to help them express those views.”
A world view is also incredibly important which is why Ida has made diversity and inclusion a priority across her department: “I’ve had clients comment to me that our team resembles the United Nations and I take that as the highest level of compliment possible. We view our diversity and inclusion as a strength here at Citi Private Bank,” she explains. “It starts from the very beginning, in the way that we recruit from schools, not only having a diverse interviewee slate, but a diverse interviewer slate so people can see what we represent.” And as well as benefiting the business, Ida has a personal passion for making sure a commitment to diversity and inclusion is a priority, “I want my children who are six and eight today to not have to face the bamboo ceiling or the glass ceiling when they enter the workforce. We must continue to move the needle on diversity and inclusion so everybody can bring their whole selves to work and look up and say ‘it is possible’.” It is certainly an area which Citi Private Bank has made impressive inroads but Ida stresses there is still work to be done.
A family first outlook means the role of women both as clients and also employees are respected and celebrated, “Women are going to control $85 trillion of wealth in the next decade so in that family approach, a core focus is women. Our team here in the private bank is almost 50% women and very diverse and I don’t think it is a coincidence that we’ve been one of the strongest performing businesses as a result.” With Jane Fraser as the first female CEO of a global financial institution there is certainly visibility for female leadership at Citi, and Ida expects to see more women across the business in the top jobs moving forward. “Half of our board of directors is women, that is industry leading in financial services,” Ida says. “We were the first global financial institution in the world to release our gender pay gap numbers over four years ago and we did that intentionally because we believe that what gets measured, gets done. We’re not going to stop until that pay gap is at zero and we’re darn close to it this year.”
One thing you cannot underestimate when speaking to Ida is her passion and enthusiasm, not just for the now but also with an eye to the future. Ida is certainly not one to rest on her laurels and is incredibly open to ideas and concepts which challenge the status quo. “Some of the best, most innovative creative ideas are coming from those that have just graduated from school,” she says. “We’ve got to keep ourselves open, listen well and take in all these multiple perspectives.” Proving the future is there for the taking – for those who listen and learn.
About Ida Liu
Ida Liu leads Citi Private Bank’s activities globally, overseeing the delivery of wealth management strategies to ultra-high net worth families and their businesses.
For additional information visit the Citi Private Bank website here.