MANILA, Philippines?American banking giant Citigroup plans to expand its local operations alongside a more upbeat financial environment, projecting to beef up its manpower by about 1,000 this year particularly for the consumer and business process outsourcing businesses.
?I think what you will see is a ramp-up of our recruitment this year not only on the BPO side but also on the banking side,? Citibank Philippines chief executive officer Sanjiv Vohra said in an interview last week.
Citibank is currently a 4,500-staff organization in the Philippines. The number includes the employees of its rapidly growing global shared services unit. This unit has expanded by about 20 percent last year, Vohra said.
But the group plans to hire more people also for its core banking business, particularly for the consumer unit. Hiring an additional 1,000 staff could thus be easily done for the full year, he added.
?A big part of it is consumer because consumer [lending] is a people business; whereas on the corporate side, we don?t need that many people,? he said.
Vohra said he was very bullish on the consumer side of the business, noting that the group was making the right investment on bank branching, technology and manpower.
Citibank purchased Insular Savings Bank in 2005, which became its thrift banking unit CitiSavings. Over the years, it has rebranded these branches. It expects to wrap up the rebranding and expansion soon and end up with 36 operational branches by March this year.
?CitiSavings is one of the biggest investment that Citi had made in the Philippines over the last 10 years,? he said.
If the domestic economy grows faster this year, Vohra said it would be a good year for the banking business.
?If the economy is up, there?s a straight correlation in terms of consumption, wealth effects, in terms of bond issuances, M&As [mergers and acquisitions]. If the economy is good, all sectors will kick in,? he said.
Last year was relatively a good year for banks coming from a low base in 2008 when the US-induced financial crisis battered the whole world. ?In terms of growth, I do see growth in 2010,? he said.
Despite the woes of its parent institution during the global crisis, Citigroup has maintained a strong banking franchise in the Philippines.
As part of its expansion, Citi rolled out to its thrift banking clients last week its Citigold wealth management platform, which provides highly personalized services to high net worth individuals.