Citigroup's Ernesti heads for New York

Regional responsibility for Citibank''s custody services will fall with two people as Richard Ernesti heads for New York.

Richard Brown and Margaret Dawson will work in tandem on Citibank's regional securities services business after the current head, Richard Ernesti, announced his departure from Asia. Ernesti has run the business for two years and will be relocating to New York to focus on a new project for the bank.

Ernesti leaves the region next week and will begin his New York job on August 4. A newly created role, he will be charged with building Citigroup's relationships with hedge funds and prime brokers. This includes offering settlement services, accounting services, securities lending and collateral provision. "I will be working with risk, legal, credit and product to see how we can maximize our relationship with this client segment," explains Ernesti, who says the initiative is being championed by Steve Bernstein, global head of securities services for GTS, and Sandy Jaffee, the division's global head of financial institutions. Ernesti will report to these two executives.

The position is based in New York, he says, because 80% of the world's prime brokerage business is managed from the city. "New York and Greenwich are the centre of the hedge fund and prime brokerage universe," he told FinanceAsia. "The bank was looking for someone who understood the hedge fund market and could converse intelligently with this client group."

Ernesti's departure from Asia comes just weeks after Citibank affirmed its position in the Australian market by holding on to its biggest sub-custody client – a client that represents nearly half of its Aussie assets. Citibank managed to retain the account from Colonial First State after the fund manager's parent Commonwealth Bank (CBA) tried to sell the account with the rest of CBA's custody business. Ernesti spent two weeks in Sydney convincing the country's largest fund manager to stay onboard.

Brown will manage the client relationship side of the role, while Dawson will manage the securities business. Based in Hong Kong, Brown is currently head of financial institutions in Asia Pacific and will add securities services to his other product lines of cash management and trade finance.

Dawson is currently chief of staff to the bank's country officer in Japan, Charles Whitehead, and will be moving to Hong Kong soon to resume her latest post. Her background in investor services with JPMorgan Chase is what her bosses have homed in on in choosing her for the product role.

Brown and Dawson will have an expanded region to cover. In Citigroup's recent reshuffle to bring cash, trade and custody under a single banner of Global Transaction Services (GTS), the Asian footprint was expanded to include the Indian sub-continent and Japan, as well as Australia/New Zealand and everything in between.

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