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Citi Investor Services-A Strong Focus on Improving Client Satisfaction

In 2009, Citi's Investor Services, a business within the company's valued Global Transaction Services Division, placed a significant focus on changing its organizational structure with the goal of improving the overall client experience across the securities product suite. To execute on this vision, two separate, yet complementary, units were formed, the Client Executive Team and the Client Sales Management Team. The Client Executive Team was tasked with monitoring and driving client satisfaction, with the ultimate goal of deepening Citi's existing client relationships and reducing attrition. The Client Sales Management team was handed the responsibility of growing Citi Investor Services' overall market share and cultivating relationships with Senior Management at existing and prospective clients.

We are now approaching the two-year anniversary of this re-organization, which is widely viewed within Citi as a success. The client satisfaction scores and sales numbers continue to rise, and the marketplace is starting to take notice. In a recent article in Scrips Issue, Richard Greensted stated, "For too long, many outside the firm struggled to explain Citi's raison d'être in the investor services business. That was because many inside the firm didn't seem too good at explaining it, either. But Citi has sharpened up its communications skills and now has a very compelling story to tell. A growing number of people are listening. Perceptions in the marketplace can be difficult to change, but Citi continues to forge ahead improving its model and process to ensure that clients continue to get a higher quality service."

Jervis Smith, Global Head of the Client Executive Group, noticed that "early on, we set our standards for what we had to do to drive our client satisfaction levels upwards, our mantra can be described as people, process, and passion. We needed to get the right people aligned, implement formal structured processes, and make sure there were some powerful changes made. There is still much more work to do and the model is evolving, but we have come a long way over the last two years." The Client Executives have really been able to provide very pro-active and consultative services to their clients and focus on the entire client relationship, both globally and cross-product. Most client feedback has been very positive thus far."

What has been achieved so far? First, a top-down evaluation of all the people we deemed to be "client-facing" was performed. Various Product, Service Delivery, and Operations teams were combined into the Client Executive group to ensure a more cohesive approach as we rallied behind our common mission. With the goal in mind of increasing our number of multi-product buyers, we co-mingled our teams, which facilitated the cross-pollination of talent, ideas and expertise among the Client Executives.

Second, we implemented a clear internal training program, with defined goals for enhancing product and industry knowledge.

Third, in an effort to bolster client satisfaction, we defined and implemented a tightly managed issue review process and outlined a clear path for the remediation of service issues. This included a more automated approach for tracking client requests, and a strengthened process for escalating urgent items to senior management. A structured and robust service review process was implemented and satisfaction levels have been closely monitored on a weekly basis and reported throughout the organization.

For some large and complex international clients, a Global Client Executive oversees the entire relationship to ensure that satisfaction levels remain high across geography and product lines. The Global Client Executive meets monthly with the client service team to ensure a cohesive client approach. Client Executives also partner with their counterparts in Capital Markets on the Operational Client Relationship Team. This allows for a unified approach to client satisfaction for certain clients, which is realized through joint service visits, joint conference attendance, enhanced communication and cross-product presentations to clients.

Additionally, a Global Client Advisory Board (CAB) meeting is hosted by Citi once a year and is supported by regional CAB Meetings. It is a forum for Senior Client contacts to gain a view into the Citi Securities and Fund Services Strategy and evaluate how well Citi executes on it. The event also facilitates peer networking and covers Industry initiatives, Industry Regulations and New Product launches.

And the way forward? Peter Verduin, the North America Head of Client Executives commented, "I am very happy with the way the Client Executive model has evolved thus far. The overall service review scores are increasing and most clients see a noticeable improvement in service from a few years ago. That being said, we are continuing to make improvements in our overall service model so that all of our clients can experience the benefits. For example, if we have a client using multiple products, such as global custody and fund accounting we would arrange for them to have one client service representative who can handle all of their queries. Additionally, some of the businesses have grown via acquisitions over the years, so we are looking for more service consistency across all of our products. This can be a challenging change to implement due to the systems involved, multiple departments, and complexity involved-but we will get there." One thing is clear, Citi Investor Services has listened to its clients and market participants and is continuing to perfect its service/relationship model to better differentiate itself from competitors.