Citi is set to recruit more wealth managers in Hong Kong as it strengthens its private banking push with a focus on China’s Greater Bay Area, reported SCMP.

The bank, which is said to be the biggest foreign lender in Hong Kong in terms of employee headcount, added 100 staff last year.

It is now planning to increase its employee workforce in the city to 1,000 by 2025, Citi Private Bank Hong Kong operations head Horace Yip divulged to the publication.

According to Yip, the increasing number of multimillionaires in the Greater Bay Area has turned the region into a “fertile ground of opportunities”.

He said: “The Bay area is definitely a growth engine for private banking business. Tax incentives, and other Hong Kong government’s efforts to promote family offices, will attract more wealthy families to invest here.”

Citi currently employs about 4,600 staff in Hong Kong. The bank will add another 100 private bankers to the team this year.

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According to Yip, net investment fund sales at Citi Private Bank increased seven times in 2021 from a year earlier.

Investments in alternative assets by its clients grew three times last quarter compared to the previous year, while their foreign-exchange trading rose by 20%.

Yip said: “The border closure has reduced the level of personal contacts with our mainland China clients.

“However, it has not stopped us from serving them via all types of online communication tools. While stocks are volatile, many private bank customers will opt for alternative investments to achieve better returns.”

The Bay area, which consists of Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in southern Guangdong province, had over 452,000 millionaire families with combined assets of $424bn (CNY 2.7trn), according to the report.

A number of other foreign banks have also bolstered their Hong Kong presence in recent years to tap the evolving wealth in the region.

Last week, UK-based specialist asset manager Toscafund opened a new office in Hong Kong to expand its Asia-Pacific footprint.

Last month, Hong Kong regulators granted in-principle approval to extend Wealth Management Connect to the brokerages in the city.