Private bankers over at Citibank are in a bit of a stew – and with good reason.
Staff at the bank’s personal banking division have learned that anti-money laundering measures (AML) are to be stepped up suddenly to prevent criminals taking advantage of the private bank’s services.
In an internal document seen by City A.M., business manager Grant Carson reassures staff that there are “no plans for any redundancies” and that there will be “no hiring freeze” for the business, though life at the bank will clearly undergo a dramatic change in the coming weeks.
Firstly, there is the issue of barring new customers from opening accounts. Employees have been instructed to field enquiries from potential clients, saying: “Due to demanding circumstances, the business has taken a decision to review and improve its account opening process and is not accepting any new accounts for the time being”. The bank is also removing website options to apply for an account to reduce the volume of enquiries.
Existing customers will receive service as usual, says the memo, although this seems optimistic: staff have been banned from travelling around to meet with clients, and the bank’s ‘Member-Get-Member’ programme, whereby existing members invite friends or family to join in return for air miles, an iPod or a Mont Blanc pen, has been suspended.
Of greater concern to staff, perhaps, is the impact the ramped-up AML measures are going to have on their personal working environment.
The majority of incentive programmes in place at the bank are to be suspended until further notice, including a freeze on Sales Incentive and Business Development Incentive programme bonus pay outs from June until further notice. Achievements towards a so-called ‘Jamaica Incentive’ – which involves rewarding good performance with Caribbean holidays – have also been halted as of July.
Money laundering is a common concern for banks with high net worth clients. Citi says the need to combat money laundering concerns is “urgent” and a “number one priority”.