Banks diversity push sees Citigroup recruit associates in U.S. from outside finance

NEW YORK, June 20 (Reuters) – Facing intense competition for
talent and pressure to hit diversity goals, banks are getting
more creative in their hiring, with Citigroup Inc
recruiting U.S. associates this summer without banking
experience or business degrees.

Launched this year, Citigroup’s pilot program aims to boost
its diversity goals by recruiting associates from
under-represented minorities as well as nontraditional
backgrounds.

The group consists of 10 recruits, including lawyers, a
dentist and an engineer – and eight of them have not attended
business school.

“We are trying to catch them right before they go to
business school to give them a different opportunity,” said Paul
Burroughs, global chief operating officer and North America head
of corporate banking for the New York-based global bank.

Banks have for years recruited candidates from liberal arts
programs for entry-level jobs like interns and analysts. Citi’s
effort is novel, said Patrick Curtis, chief executive of online
career forum Wall Street Oasis, because it seeks to bring in
associates, who manage analysts, from outside of the business
world.

“The associate role is typically a post-MBA role, and it is
considered a career-track role,” said Curtis, referring to the
Master of Business Administration.

Citi is betting that non-MBA candidates will bring
different, sector-specific expertise that will help their
investment and corporate banking teams.

Its program also expands its recruiting network as banks
face cutthroat hiring competition from peers and tech companies,
which has pushed up wages. They are also under pressure from
investors and policymakers to increase diversity, which has
traditionally been lacking among senior ranks.

In 2018, about 26% of employees in the U.S. financial
services industry were women and 1% were Black, according to
data from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

In 2021, 40.6% of Citi’s mid- and senior-level staff
globally were women, up from 37% in 2018, its disclosures show.
In the United States, 8.1% of Citi’s mid- and senior-level
employees were Black, up from 6% in 2018.

Citi, JPMorgan Chase & Co and others have expanded
recruiting to more colleges and cities, and offered training for
people from other careers to attract talent for internship and
entry-level banking roles.

Citi received 125 applications for 10 spots in the new
program. Two are Hispanic and eight are Black, the bank said.

The candidates get a roughly three-month crash course in
finance before joining the broader class of associates in July,
a job two rungs up from interns and analysts, and one rung below
vice presidents. The post typically lasts three to five years
before associates may be promoted.

Candidates from outside finance may need extra support early
in their careers, which this program aims to provide, Citi’s
Burroughs said.

Associates in the investment bank can work 80- to 90-hour
weeks said Curtis, which may be a tough adjustment.

The program’s class includes a former U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development lawyer, a packaging engineer and
Carolina Botero, 33, a Columbia University-trained dentist.

“They were welcoming to my background,” said Botero, who
hopes to ultimately land a job with Citi’s investment bank.
“They saw my value.”

(Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts Marshall; editing by Michelle
Price, Megan Davies and Jonathan Oatis)

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