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Citi offers junior bankers sun with Malaga office

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By Natalie Sherman

Business reporter, New York

Benalmádena, near MálagaImage source, Getty Images

While some Wall Street banks launch return-to-office battles in London and New York, Citigroup is trying a different tack: offices at the beach.

The bank has opened a new hub for junior staff in the seaside city of Malaga, on Spain’s Costa del Sol.

In addition to sun, staff are promised a reprieve from the industry’s traditionally gruelling hours.

Though salaries are also lower, more than 3,000 people applied for a spot, the bank said.

The bank has hired 27 people so far, from a stated goal of 30. The group, most of them aged 22 to 26, is drawn from 22 countries and speaks 15 different languages.

Its staff in Malaga will work eight-hour days with no weekend work for around half of the $100,000 (£86,000) starting salary offered for the same roles in London and New York.

According to one career website, investment bankers in London typically work a 65-70 hour week in quiet periods, although this can rise to as many as 100 hours in busy periods.

Image source, Citi

Image caption,

Citi formally opened a new office in Malaga on Wednesday

The first day at the office, which formally opened on Wednesday, included a round of hobnobbing with Malaga’s mayor, Citi said.

Officially, the new recruits will assist teams working with clients in a range of industries, including property, technology and healthcare. Bank representatives said the jobs are office-based, not remote,

Citi first announced the plan in March, saying it was meant to help it reduce turnover and draw new people to the industry, which has seen its allure fade as tech companies and other firms in finance dangle similarly high salaries but less demanding days.

“Low levels of junior banker retention are being seen across the industry, and the message is clear: the key driver behind many junior-level departures is the search for a better work-life balance. At Citi, we are listening,” Manolo Falcó, the bank’s global co-head of banking, capital markets and advisory said at the time.

The bank has also raised starting salaries, while Citi boss Jane Fraser, the first woman to lead a Wall Street bank, famously declared Zoom-free Fridays last year, calling for a “reset” from the “relentlessness of the pandemic workday”.

The moves come as the pandemic has lain bare strains in banking’s infamously tough work culture.

In recent years, for example, young staff at Goldman Sachs have revolted against senior managers, taking gripes about burnout, return-to-office demands and, most recently, allegedly stingy coffee perks to the press.

In May, Goldman appeared to soften its image when it said senior staff would be allowed to take as much holiday as they wanted in order to promote “rest and recharge”. Junior bankers, however, will still only be entitled to a fixed amount of holiday.

The bank follows tech firms LinkedIn, Bumble and Netflix in introducing the perk.

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