On Monday night, Citi CEO Mike Corbat appeared on a panel at NYU’s Stern School of Business alongside hedge fund manager John Paulson and private equity chief Joseph Landy. The conversation was free flowing and touched on a number of subjects du jour, like too-big-to-fail, post-crisis regulation, and the future of the global economy, but, as he was speaking before students, Corbat was also there to make the case for people to come work at Citi. Knowing full well that the banking industry in general and Citi specifically probably holds little if any allure for the junior banking set these days, he put on a happy face nonetheless and really committed to the part, telling those assembled:
1. Despite regulatory constraints, it's still a super fun time to be a banker.
2. Banks are going "digital" so you could think of yourself like a pioneer, on the Oregon Trail.
3. Bottom line: We're all adults here. Everyone knows you all want to go to a PE firm or hedge fund but not everybody's gonna because there literally aren't enough chairs to go around at these places. Their offices aren't that big, relatively speaking, and there straight up are not enough places for people to sit. I'm not stupid, I get it. Who wouldn't want to go work for Paulson and Co. over a bank, especially when that bank is Citi. But again, it just comes down to math. So when you get the "We'll be in touch line" from them, you come give me a call.
There’s a narrative in banking that the smartest workers are decamping for private-equity firms and hedge-funds, where the rules can be looser and the paychecks bigger. Michael Corbat, chief executive of Citigroup Inc., is not particularly concerned. For one thing, there’s only so many people those places can hire. “I think what probably John and Joe would describe is, there’s a limited number of seats in these firms,” Mr. Corbat said on Monday night...Besides, to Mr. Corbat, consummate Citigroup salesman that he is, it’s an exciting time to be joining the industry, with opportunities in globalization and “the move toward digital.” Banking, he said, “is a business that’s still got the opportunity to grow.”