As CEO for the largest foreign bank in the Philippines, Aftab Ahmed is responsible for one of the very successful Citi Franchises in Asia.
Dating back to 1902, the same year that the bank decided to establish its presence in Asia, Citi is a highly-recognized brand name in the Philippines. Amongst the foreign banks, Citi has the largest customer and asset base, and maintains its position as the most profitable bank. It consistently is placed amongst the top 10 commercial banks in the country, and is the only foreign bank with this distinction.
Proudly serving the local business community, Citi provides corporate and investment banking, treasury and trade solutions, and markets and securities services for the public sector, top-tier Filipino corporations, multinationals and financial institutions operating in the country. The pioneer in business process outsourcing, it is also home to the Citi Service Center that provides voice and non-voice services to Citi affiliates, subsidiaries and branches in Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa, North America and Latin America regions. Through its consumer banking operations, Citi clients enjoy access to world class wealth management and credit payment products and services that remain unmatched by the competition.
In managing the Citi Philippines Franchise, Aftab leads a team of nearly 8,000 banking professionals, and is the envy of the industry that continues to look to Citi for quality talent.
“In an ever-changing world, it is imperative to remain relevant. To achieve this objective, you need to have a high-level curiosity and a strong interest in everything that goes on around you. It is this thought process coupled with Citi’s client centricity that has kept Citi Philippines at the forefront in terms of delivering world class financial products and services,” says Aftab.
Earning the clients’ trust and keeping it is a key priority for Aftab and Citi Philippines. Since coming on board in the middle of 2015, he has had a very high appreciation for the century plus track record of innovation and contributions made by the Philippines Franchise. He fully recognizes that few companies have the distinction of having such a rich history and that the team has a responsibility to continue to add to the tradition of market leadership.
Aftab hit the ground running and after a year, has reaped a record number of awards from global, regional and national organizations for Citi’s Franchise, its businesses, its products, its services and its contributions to the community by way of corporate social responsibility programs.
Offering a full suite of products and services spanning from day-to-day working capital and treasury management solutions to financial advisory and long-term debt and equity capital raising, Citi’s corporate and investment banking platform has helped propel growth for institutional clients in the country and across the globe. The team acts as the ‘one stop window’ for institutional clients to partner with Citi across products and geographies, helping multinational clients expand in the Philippines and local clients expand both domestically as well as around the globe. Citi’s capital markets and advisory services are offered through its affiliate Citicorp Capital Philippines Inc.
Citi also has a best-in-class Markets and Securities Services business. It provides market-making, sales and structuring services in foreign exchange, fixed income, commodities products and their derivatives, and a full range of custody and administration services to investors, intermediaries and issuers. Citi’s Treasury and Trade Solutions team delivers the most complete and advanced range of cash management and trade solutions in the country.
With an enviable track record for innovation and customer service, Citi in the Philippines is an acknowledged leader in consumer banking. It is the financial partner of choice of the country’s mass affluent consumers and offers a full range of world-class banking products and services covering retail loans and deposits, wealth management, personal investments, insurance, consumer branch services and lifestyle convenience products and services such as credit cards.
In Asia Pacific, the Philippines serves as a regional hub for the Citi Service Center, which is focused on delivering support to more than 60 countries in Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa.
With comprehensive coverage and service propositions, Aftab draws extensively on his leadership skills to stay on top of the day to day needs of the business and on his entrepreneurial mindset to empower his teams and motivate them to pursue the appropriate forward looking initiatives for the Firm.
“Leaders need to be versatile, agile, and flexible to be able to effectively address different business requirements and situations,” shares Aftab. “Working for Citi, I feel very much like an entrepreneur – you are empowered and encouraged to act like an owner.”
Aftab has worked in 11 countries including the US, Pakistan, Greece, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, Germany, Taiwan, Singapore, Egypt, Hungary and now the Philippines. He brought to his Philippines role nearly four decades of international banking experience, covering multiple client segments and disciplines including Corporate Banking, Correspondent Banking, Commercial or Business Banking, Consumer Banking, Consumer Finance, Distribution, Operations & Technology as well as Treasury.
He has built his whole career at Citi, starting as an Executive Trainee. With his energy and drive, business acumen, and most importantly his passion to learn and contribute, he progressively was given challenging assignments. He has held several senior roles at Citi at the country level as Country CEO, Consumer Country Business Manager, and Corporate Bank Head. He has also held senior cluster and regional roles including Director of Retail Branch Expansion & Operations for the Retail Bank in North America, Consumer Finance Head for Asia Pacific, and Consumer Cluster Head for Pakistan, Middle East and Egypt.
In his different business and leadership roles across multiple geographies, he has been extensively involved in and has successfully contributed towards Country and Regional initiatives to: grow franchises; expand branch footprint; increase the customer base; deepen relationships; and protect as well as grow portfolios.
Passion, energy, focus, commitment and the desire to connect are the crucial values that are an integral part of Aftab’s DNA and these have helped him grow both as an individual and as a professional. “To remain relevant, learn from the past, live in the present with an eye on the future. This will allow you to grow personally and professionally and will better position you to handle change.”