ECONOMY

Private services offered

The local private banking market is developing rapidly and its prospects are promising, Citigroup Private Bank’s top man in Greece told Kathimerini. Gerassimos Spyridakis was appointed last September to head Citigroup Private Bank’s Athens office. A nine-year veteran with Citigroup, Spyridakis also kept his position at the private bank’s London office as the person responsible for Greek clients globally. Citigroup Private Bank’s Athens office has recently hired more specialized personnel and plans to expand further. «Besides our strong presence in the shipping sector, we also target all kinds of businesspeople,» Spyridakis says. «Managing investment and business risk is a sector in which we have great experience,» he adds. A prospective Citigroup Private Bank client must have a minimum of 1 million euros in funds available for investment. According to Spyridakis, a client who does business with Citigroup Private Bank enjoys the advantage of being plugged into the world’s biggest financial organization. «This is very important because, as the world’s biggest bank, we offer a huge range of investment products and opportunities. This, combined with our integrated investment services, entirely custom-tailored to the needs of each of our clients, provides us with a big advantage compared to our competitors. Our presence in 100 countries, with a client base of 200 million, provides us with access to ideas and services that almost no one else currently provides in Greece. The combination of the above sets us apart in private banking services,» he says. The exact size of the private banking market in Greece is unknown. «It is difficult to keep tab of the size because some capital is invested in the domestic market and another part abroad. There are several estimates. What we could safely say is that the Greek private banking market is developing dynamically,» Spyridakis says. Citigroup Private Bank’s experience, accumulated knowledge, capital base and advanced technology provide it with a significant advantage in private banking services, Spyridakis claims. «One of Citigroup’s strong points is the range of ‘alternative’ investment opportunities we offer to our private clients, as well as the ability of Citigroup’s and the clients’ to invest together in many countries and sectors. At this moment, our clients have the opportunity to invest, together with the group, in China, India and elsewhere, not only by buying shares in mutual funds, stocks or other products but by co-investing with Citigroup. The bank puts its own money on the table, invests alongside the client,» he adds. Spyridakis acknowledges the fact that Greek banks are developing fast and becoming much more competitive in providing investment products. He adds, however, that Citigroup’s size provides it with a great advantage. The private banking market is changing, as well; products and services available, until a few years ago, to the extremely rich, are now becoming accessible to people with less capital available to invest. For example, a few years ago, very few could access products such as hedge funds. Now, this has changed, making the consulting part of private banking a key factor. Services Private banking clients enjoy very high-quality services. «Our team is made up of experienced bankers and investment experts and works with one thing in mind: the client. The client is the center of attention. We do not begin by saying ‘these are the products we offer’ but by what the client really needs to cover his needs, either with our or other banks’ products,» Spyridakis says. «Do not forget that we are among the first in the market to adopt an ‘open architecture’ model, that is, to take advantage of every product available in the global market in order to maximize return for our clients. However, we are not just one big supermarket of investment products but we can assess each client’s needs in depth and to offer tailor-made solutions. As for the Greek market, a recent survey by Euromoney magazine places Citigroup Private Bank in first place on services to clients with more than $10 million to invest. This vindicates our effort to offer individual private banking services,» he adds.