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Citi vs Goldman. Which is the best US bank to work for in Asia?

Citi makes three times more revenue in Asia than Goldman, but GS jobs still more “glamorous”

Are you looking to work for a US bank in Asia? Do you want one that has a large foothold in the region? Or would you prefer a firm that’s strong in IBD, with a brand that will impress future employers? Citi and Goldman Sachs (the only American banks to publish their Asian revenues for Q3) make for an interesting comparison.

Citi made almost three times more revenue in Asia that Goldman Sachs did in the third quarter –$3,785m vs $1,209m, according to the banks’ recently released financial results. This was not a one-off or even the widest quarterly disparity, as shown in the chart below, which compares Asian income at the two firms stretching back to Q1 last year.

As the size of its results suggests, Citi is a universal bank in Asia – where it has some 50,000 people across 16 markets – like it is in the US. Citi’s global consumer banking unit employs people in stable cash-cow functions that Goldman has little or no presence in (e.g. cards and retail banking). In Singapore, Citi’s headcount of more than 9,000 people, the largest of any foreign bank in the Republic, far exceeds that of Goldman.

Moreover, if you have a job at Citi in Asia, you are working in a region which is actually important to the bank’s global bottom line. As the second chart below shows, Asia’s share of Citi’s total revenue has hovered at about 20% for several quarters. Goldman, by contrast, has only mustered 12% to 17% over the same period.

Strip out consumer banking, however, and the figures tell a slightly different story. Citi’s other division in Asia, institutional clients group, comprises corporate and investment banking, treasury and trade solutions, markets and securities services, and private banking – and it therefore competes in similar sectors to Goldman. ICG in Asia made $1,930m in the third quarter – that’s still 60% more than Goldman’s overall Asian total of $1,209m, but Citi is a whopping 213% ahead of GS when its entire regional revenues ($3,785m) are included.

If you work in front-office investment banking in Asia, meanwhile, Goldman is the pick of the two banks. It ranked first for overall Asian IB revenue in the first nine months of this year, eight places higher than Citi, according to Dealogic. Goldman also topped the regional tables for M&A and ECM, with Citi ranking 7th in both categories. The appointment of Goldman veteran Todd Leland last week to head up IB in Asia is widely seen as an attempt by incoming CEO David Solomon to further strengthen Goldman’s regional franchise.

But it’s not just about the numbers. “Many young people want to work for Goldman – rather than say, Citi or HSBC – because they think having GS on their resume will open up more options for them in the future,” says a junior banker in Hong Kong. “And it’s still the most glamorous shop on the street career-wise.”

This positive perception of jobs at Goldman is widespread in Singapore and Hong Kong. The bank came third in an eFinancialCareers survey that asked finance professionals in the cities which employers they would ideally like to work for. Citi finished sixth.

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AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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