Citi appointed Ebru Pakcan as global head of trade for treasury and trade solutions (TTS) in mid-February, in what is a notable promotion for the transaction banking veteran.
She replaces John Ahearn, who had held the position since joining the firm in 2004 and was named chairman for the division in October. Ahearn is due to retire later this year and will support Pakcan as she transitions into her new role.
This is an interesting decision by Citi, given that Pakcan will be moving into a trade role after a career that has largely focused on cash management.
Before taking up her current position as head of treasury and trade solutions for EMEA in 2016, Pakcan was global head of payments. Between 2008 and 2011, she was head of payments, EMEA.
“We want to bring our cash management and our trade businesses closer together and Ebru’s track record and diverse experience will enable her to do this,” says Naveed Sultan, global head of TTS at Citi.
“Ebru can bring everything that we have developed in cash management and now give it a trade lens. This will take us – an established market leader – to the next level.”
Pakcan’s promotion follows a number of other moves within Citi designed to bring different skill sets into the TTS business.
Earlier this month, the bank appointed Shahmir Khaliq as global head of a combined operations and technology organization, which will support the TTS business. Khaliq was previously the global head of direct custody and clearing for the bank’s equities and securities services business.
At the end of January, Gerald Keefe became the head of corporate and public sector sales for TTS globally, moving from his position as head of Asia-Pacific corporate banking.
“The plan is to make some non-traditional moves to enhance and realise the full potential of TTS platform," says Sultan. "To connect other parts of ICG more closely with TTS, refresh talent, bring in new energy and create a new blend of talent, which will position us very strongly for an increasingly digital economy."
“We believe that our strategy to be the financial platform for global commerce will pay off.”
Citi’s TTS business accounted for $9.9 billion in revenue for the bank in 2018. In 2019, this rose to $10.3 billion, around 14% of the total $74.3 billion revenue for the year.
Trade and cash management are closely related, so the appointment of a cash manager to a trade finance role is not wholly unexpected.
“There is huge overlap between the two businesses – the same customers, connectivity, technology,” says a banker at a rival firm.
He says Pakcan is an excellent choice to lead the trade team, adding: “She is well-respected, calm, collected and analytical – all successful ingredients needed for a successful senior transaction banker.”
After a period of retrenchment after the global financial crisis, transaction banks are slowly but surely entering new markets to capture strong trade and payments growth in emerging markets, including Asia and Africa.