‘There needs to be a better understanding as to what wealth managers do,’ says Poole, Citi’s new head of strategic client segments for EMEA. ‘It’s not just about making the rich richer — if you put that down as a simple phrase it sounds pretty unappealing, and morally I can’t come to terms with that. It’s about careful management of capital, for these wealthier people, who need guidance as to how they spend and where they invest it.’
Ever ascendant in private banking circles, Poole began his career at Lazard Brothers under Sir John Nott in the mid-1980s before joining Singer & Friedlander. He went on to become head of business development for Merrill Lynch’s private client division before joining Citi Private Bank (Spear’s Private Bank of the Year in 2014) in 2006 as managing director and acting head of the UK market.
Citi’s strength, he reckons, it’s its global reach and the expertise it manages to pool together, with bankers, investment counsellors and investment finance experts ‘acting as a quasi self appointed family office’. ‘We sit on the same side of the table as our clients and will advise independently to ensure the best outcome is achieved,’ he says. ‘[For example], in the financial crisis we advised clients to remove liquidity from Citi to spread their risk.’
He thinks the industry’s two biggest challenges at the moment are client reporting and tax-efficient investing. The private bank responded to its clients’ requests for up-to-date and interactive reporting with the launch of the In View app, while Poole says new regulation requiring increased transparency means private bankers need to be aware of the tax implications of their investment advice.
After six years heading up the UK private bank, Poole was promoted to his new role last year, after two record years for Citi – ‘a good time to hand over the baton’, he says.
He emphasises Citi’s geographic strength and ‘seamless’ interfaces, most appreciated by its jet-setting clientele, from non-resident Indian UHNWs to the ‘most sophisticated’ financial professionals around, including hedgies, asset managers and FX principals.
‘With the right advisers with the right approach, we can talk about re-investing their capital in businesses which create employment, social infrastructure, wealth, healthcare and education,’ he says. ‘We can talk about them establishing foundations and charities. Wealth management is about healthy capitalism — and we as bankers and wealth managers need to encourage that.’
The amiable banker is certainly in a good position to do that. A man who’s worked with luminaries from U2’s Bono to members of the Rothschild family (he also previously worked at their bank), he graduated from Bristol University with honours in English and theology.
When not inside Citi’s iconic building in Canary Wharf (or dancing on the roof with colleagues, as clients saw him do for the BBC show The Choir: Sing While You Work), he enjoys cycling, playing tennis and walking the family Labrador when he isn’t ‘knackered’ after work.