Straight out of university, John Hastings gave it a go as an entrepreneur. But after a year and half, the lure of one of the world’s premier financial institutions was too much to resist. More than 30 years later, Hastings is now the country officer, chairman, and CEO of Citi Canada, the company that drew him away from self-employment so many years ago. He is a trusted resource for the global banking organization’s Canadian arm, overseeing more than 3,000 employees in seven business lines. Here, he offers some numbers on his own career growth and on Citi’s contributions to the progress of its clients.
33 years of experience
Hastings has been with the bank since 1982. He began as an associate in the firm’s banking program before moving to junior banker and several other positions. One was on the trading floor, and another was at a desk responsible for all distribution activities, including loan syndications, private placements, public securities, leveraged finance, and leasing.
“I became the resident market expert,” Hastings says. “That evolved into running the group, which, after seven years, became solely focused on loan syndications and private placements.” Hastings continued with that group until Citi merged with Solomon Smith Barney in 1998, when he returned to banking, progressing through the ranks until eventually becoming head of Citi’s Institutional Clients Group business in Canada. He was promoted to his current position in 2010.
3 areas of concentration
Hastings breaks his role down into three parts. First, he concentrates on business development with clients. He says his prior roles were also “client-focused,” but now the work is often in support of a banking team. “You have to pick and choose when you get involved and when you spend time with the clients to make sure you’re adding value,” he says.
Second, he manages regulatory relationships. “Since 2008, the world has obviously changed, particularly in banking,” he says, and he therefore spends a great deal of time ensuring that Citi Canada operates by the book and that his people have the tools, knowledge, and, most importantly, the desire to ensure Citi Canada’s business operations remain paramount.
Lastly, Hastings must manage his people and oversee administrative functions while marrying the needs of a global organization with the unique aspects of running a business in Canada. “Focusing on fostering a communicative and collaborative culture across a broad spectrum has become the biggest part of my role,” he says.
A team of 20
Citi Canada’s operating committee includes approximately 20 of the firm’s senior managers. The group meets monthly and is composed of business and function heads from the Canadian organization. The meetings afford Hastings the opportunity to disseminate information about what’s going on from his perspective, but they also give key leaders in the group a forum to discuss challenges and triumphs. “I grew up playing a lot of sports, and I always felt that I’ve been a good team player,” Hastings says. “I’m focused on helping my team achieve its goals because that’s going to lead to the success of the company.”
“Citi’s globality is its big differentiator,” Hastings says. As an international organization, the company believes in interconnectivity and three worldwide trends: globalization, digitization, and urbanization. “We look at how those three factors interrelate and how we can leverage our footprint to take advantage of those trends,” Hastings says.
Canada ranks seventh of the 101 countries that Citi inhabits in terms of institutional client business. That success is based on ensuring that Citi Canada is providing opportunities to its clientele on a global basis and crossing borders. “We know the Canadian banks have a strong domestic presence,” Hastings says. “We bring a different dimension by enabling Citi’s clients to achieve objectives through our global infrastructure and 200-plus-year history.”
Citi’s biggest legal vehicle in Canada is Citibank Canada, the company’s bank subsidiary, which has a governance board of eight individuals, including four independent directors. Other key vehicles include the broker/dealer, the trust company, the Canadian branch of Citibank North America, and entities responsible for credit card and consumer-lending activity. Hastings oversees all of them, and that allows him to drive synergies and leverage the entire business.
Citi is committed to Canada. The banking organization’s roots in the country date back nearly 100 years, meaning it has withstood multiple financial crises while maintaining its presence and giving back to the community. “A member of our team coined the phrase ‘brilliance and resilience’ to describe what’s made us successful,” Hastings says. “Our team has shown plenty of both.”
Recently, in 2014, as part of the firm’s annual Global Community Day, more than 75,000 employees around the world gave up a Saturday to benefit their local communities. In Canada, more than 700 employees—about 25 percent of the company’s staff—signed up to work in food banks and carry out other volunteer projects across the country. “I stack our people up against any other firm in the country,” Hastings says. “Pound for pound, we easily outpunch our weight in giving back to the communities where we work and live.”