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'There are a number of waves to ride' in Asia: Citi CEO

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Citi CEO Jane Fraser joins 'Influencers with Andy Serwer' to discuss new opportunities for the banking sector across Asia.

Video Transcript

ANDY SERWER: Let's drill down into Asia then a little bit.

- Yeah.

ANDY SERWER: Not a homogeneous region at all.

- No.

ANDY SERWER: And so I'm wondering, sort of top down, what your strategy is, say, geographically, A, and then product, B, sort of a matrix view.

- Well, I mean, I'd start off by saying we've taken a pretty hard look very early on. Made the call actually to exit our consumer banking franchises in Asia. That's a part of the business that I think is very locally driven. And while we've had big strengths in that historically, I would rather focus our shareholders' money in the capital into the areas I think we have a competitive advantage. So we're exiting our retail franchises in Asia. And in monetizing that value, excess capital will go back to the shareholders.

Then when I look at the Asian markets themselves across the board, you're right, different geographies. You're seeing some differences. But I'd say it is the epicenter for wealth creation. We're seeing this in terms of a rapidly growing middle class. Therefore, we're focused on wealth. We're seeing this in half of the world's unicorns have been created in Asia.

So it's also driving our mid-market businesses as the-- almost like an elevator for clients in the mid-market. Many are born digital, rapidly go, become Asian players, not just their domestic players. And we're seeing the time frame from birth to IPO in Asia for most companies being six years, which is an astonishingly short period.

And then finally, what we are again seeing across the board is this digital acceleration. It's being powered by e-commerce. It's being powered by technology innovation. And so all of this activity that's occurring of transformation means, for us and I think for our peers, wealth being in this epicenter of that wealth creation. Being in the epicenter of digital and technology innovation is really critical.

I'll give an example. I was sitting down with the finance minister of India this weekend who-- last weekend, sorry. Time flies here. She was in town for the IMF. And we were talking about the fact that Citi serves 50% of the unicorns in India. We serve about 30% of the multinational companies in India. And how incredibly vibrant those markets are, and how digital that has become in the last few years.

So I think these trends are going to be the same, no matter where you are. And we're also seeing the recovery from COVID starting to accelerate. I was pretty encouraged see ourselves. We're starting to bring people back into our sites again after the second surge of COVID in India. And we're seeing it beginning to see a stronger recovery thereafter, after a pretty brutal few months in many, many geographies in Asia from a COVID perspective. I'm bullish, as you can tell.