Choral relief

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The Choir: Sing While You Work

Never mind Bank of America or JPMorgan. For Citi, a more serious source of competition these days comes from the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and Birmingham’s City Council.

Citi is one of five teams taking part in the world’s only famous choirmaster Gareth Malone’s latest TV series, The Choir: Sing While You Work.

The series tracks the performance of teams of volunteers from five very different workplaces across the UK. P&O Ferries and Sainsbury’s are the other teams involved. For Citi’s staff the series provided a chance to come together, boost morale and draw a line under a difficult few years for the bank.

Malone seems to have been unreasonably scared by the mere prospect of going to London’s Canary Wharf where Citi is based. By the time he entered Citi’s building, he was a jabbering wreck. “The island is hermetically sealed – you go through security to get on it, and then there are these impenetrable, daunting towers of steel and glass and concrete, buildings where people can’t even go from one floor to the other without separate security,” he said, somewhat melodramatically.

Gareth eventually calmed down, manned up and entered Citi’s actually quite nice building on Canada Square. Once inside, he did the only thing he seems to know how to do: he formed a choir.

This one contained 11 nationalities and included traders, members of the cleaning staff and senior management, including co-head of corporate investment banking for EMEA James Bardrick and David Poole, head of UK private banking. And by all accounts, the choir that came together was no joke. Indeed their collective vocal power was such that it reduced a room of hardened bankers to tears while performing songs including Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror for an audience that included the bank’s entire board. For Citi’s singers, no message could have been any clearer. If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and join a choir.