Q&A: Suzanne Rickard, Citigroup Management Associate Program
Vault: Tell me a little bit about Citigroup's Management Associate Program
Rickard: The program is a two-year rotational program. The way it's set up is that you have the opportunity to rotate and train as well as perform in different functions within the retail bank. You start out with a financial associate rotation, being the person who takes deposits for clients at the teller window -- handling money, etc. Then you have training as a customer service officer where you answer clients' questions and assist them with any banking related issue.
The next rotation was as an account representative, which they call Client Financial Analyst (CFA). During that rotation, I was able to open accounts for clients and also received my Series 6 and Series 63 licenses as well as my Life and Health License, so I was able to sell investment and insurance products. There's also an operations rotation, a corporate headquarters rotation, as well as a commercial, small business banking part.
Vault: How big is the program?
Rickard: In my class in the retail bank area there are 11 associates. In total [at Citigroup], I believe it's maybe 200 or 300. I think it's been in existence for many years but has taken on a variety of structures. For the retail bank section, it could range from as small as five or so people to as large as our class, which is 11 people. They do a hiring process three times a year, in the spring, summer and fall.
There's a program for each different section of the company. For the credit card department there's a different program, for human resources there's a different program, and so on.
Vault: Where are you now in the program?
Rickard: I've already done the consumer rotation. I've also dealt with operations -- that's the back office, making sure that everything balances in terms of money at the end of the day and also dealing with audits. The rotation I'm in right now is the commercial, small business banking position.
Vault: So how long is each rotation?
Rickard: The financial associate rotation was about three months, the service officer rotation was two or three months, the CFA portion is about five or six months, the operations one where you deal with audits is about three or four months. The corporate project rotation, it's supposed to be a short one, but I stayed about five months.
Vault: What sort of corporate project did you work on?
Rickard: I did a rotation in [Citigroup's headquarters in] Long Island City with one of the main directors of a new product. So I dealt with the marketing of the product. I dealt with the legal group. I dealt with the finance group. I dealt with other cross-functional issues. Having a product with Citibank, you have to make sure it works with everyone else and that they can sell it too.
Vault: What kind of product was it?
Rickard: It's called CitiGold. It's a premier bank product for high net worth clients. It's a type of checking account that looks to consolidate the clients' account relationships. So for example, you can open a brokerage account with that product or handle your credit card accounts through that account. We want clients to feel like they can consolidate all their finances with us, where you can have banking, borrowing, brokerage and insurance, which are all interrelated.
Vault: You mentioned other cross-functional issues in working on this project? What types of other departments did you deal with?
Rickard: I worked with our customer service group, our online system group and others. Basically everything that goes into producing and processing a financial product. It was interesting -- a lot of work starting from scratch, but it's been going well.
Vault: And where were your other rotations?
Rickard: For the operations rotation, I was at a very busy branch at 34th Street that was across from Macy's. The day-to-day traffic at that branch was nonstop. They had three floors in the bank at that branch, and we dealt in the millions [of dollars]. I was there around the holidays, dealing with hundreds of people coming in and out constantly.
Vault: So what do you do in an operations role?
Rickard: I'm basically making sure transactions are being done properly, approving transactions if they're large amounts, making sure all the cash "proves" [checks out against transactions].
Vault: So with that much cash moving in and out I'm curious as to how much slips through the cracks on a daily basis?
Rickard: That branch was really good. Everyone was pretty accurate, consistently. The operations manager had been with the bank for I think 20 or 30 years, and had done operations at the bank at a lot of different branches. He had a lot of experience and knew the type of people to hire and what systems to have.
So training with him, I knew what things to recognize what to look for, it ran like a well-oiled machine. But sometimes it would get a little hectic because there were maybe 15 people or so taking clients, asking you to help them. You're constantly being asked questions, and there's not a whole lot of time to have lunch, or do other things. You're there for a couple hours after the bank closes, making sure that everything "proves out." At the end of the day you may feel like you've just gone through a frenzy but you're also happy that everything worked out for the clients as well as the staff.