Venu Krishnamurthy, managing director and president of Citigold Wealth Management, discusses his seven years in the securities business.
I was born in India, into a family of engineers, and conversations at home were more about transistors and transformers than stocks and bonds. My entry into financial services was somewhat accidental. My father worked for the national radio network in India, followed by the television broadcasting corporation, and it was understood that I would do something in engineering as well. I attended the National Institute of Technology in India for a degree in electronics. After graduation, I got a job with IBM in India as a customer service engineer.
I left IBM after a year to attend the Indian Institute of Management for an MBA. My father, always supportive, was skeptical. He asked, "Are you sure you want to do that? You're making good money with IBM and you have your engineering degree." But I wanted to study business, and after graduation I got a job in consulting with McKinsey & Co. in India.
Management consulting is an opportunity to see and learn a lot. You work with a new team for a different client every four to six months and participate in some bold decisions about complicated problems. A client partner I worked with said it's probably the only business where you start as a general manager and grow up to be a salesperson. It was also an interesting timeIndia was opening up economically, and traditional firms were becoming more global.
In 1999 I wanted to try something different, so I relocated to New York to work for a startup private equity firmmy first real foray into the world of investments. Three years later I returned to consulting, working for the Boston Consulting Group in New York for more than four years. Then an opportunity arose with Citi Global Wealth Management to lead strategy and M&A in Asia.
I joined Citi in early 2006 and in just over seven years have worked on three continents, in three different businesses: wealth management, consumer banking, and the institutional clients group. I started in wealth management in Singapore as CFO for the joint Smith Barney and private banking business. Eventually I moved to London as CFO for the global private bank. Then I moved back to New York for my present position at Citigold.
My career moves have largely been serendipitous; usually I'm comfortable and then something compelling comes along. That's what happened with my current position. The idea of assembling a team and relaunching our business for high-net-worth clients in the United States was extremely attractive. In 2012, Citigold hired about 100 advisors and relationship managers in the United States and reconfigured its senior management team.
You don't often get to go on a global adventure with your family as I have done. Our sons, 9 and 5, were born in the United States but are really citizens of the world. My younger son had a frequent flier card before he learned to walk; I was 24 when I first got on a plane. They are probably the only kids who can talk about Eli Manning, Lionel Messi, and Sachin Tendulkar with equal ease.
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