There may never be a good time to change jobs, but some times are worse than others.

Joining a new company in a managerial position at the start of a pandemic, for example, is clearly not ideal.

But it was the hand given to Jeff Sutton, global head of portfolio solutions at Citi Private Bank, that made a large-scale move from Oppenheimer & Co in April of last year, just weeks after the lockdown. world to slow the spread of Covid -19.

He was keen to foster better communication between the various elements of his new team, but the new home work environment presented a particular challenge for Sutton as he sought to make his mark.

“I’m very collaborative and team-oriented, and I think the more people involved in the decision-making, the better the decisions made,” he says.

‘It’s hard to have more informal conversations [away from the office but] I made sure that when I first joined I was going to take the time and ask people to give me that time to get to know them. During this honeymoon period, I spent a lot of time on Zooms with every member of my team, as well as members of all the partner teams we work with, getting to know everyone. It was taking a long time. It was tiring, but it paid off in a very good relationship.

One working relationship that Sutton ended earlier than expected was his partnership with Ray Joseph, former co-head of Citi Investment Management. Joseph had sought to recommend Sutton for his new role. It was a position Joseph had held before he was promoted to oversee Citi Investment Management in 2019.

But just a few months after Sutton’s arrival on board, Joseph was on the move, joining Wellington Management in October 2020 to become director of research.

“I was thrown into the fire a little faster than expected with this change,” Sutton said. “ But when it happened I was already pretty aware of it. ”

From the ground

Joseph’s move did not change what drew Sutton to Oppenheimer’s Citi, where he had held a similar role overseeing manager due diligence, creating referral lists and managing discretionary portfolios.

“I realized that what I really enjoyed about my experience at Oppenheimer was creating things, improving processes and creating investment content on the platform. The role at Citi as Global Head of Portfolio Solutions gave me the opportunity… to redo everything, but on a larger scale, ”he says.

During his first year in office, Sutton was busy streamlining the company’s investment process and revising its list of priority funds. He is quiet about how many strategies have been removed, or which ones, but says new offers have been added in their place.

“We had strategies on the priority list that weren’t getting a lot of interest within the company, so we did some streamlining to create more capacity for additional strategies,” he says.

“It will be an evolving process that will take one to three years to go through, but we have regular meetings and we are really on top of our managers.”

Sutton says that while the company examines passive strategies, he wants to focus the research team on active managers.

“This means using active strategies that are independent of the benchmark, strategies that have a high active share – which means they look different from the benchmark – which are more concentrated in nature,” says -he. “If a manager doesn’t meet these types of characteristics, then why bother?”

While keen to put his stamp on the research process, Sutton also emphasizes an element of Citi’s due diligence process that began under Joseph, where the company asks portfolio managers about the diversity of their teams. investment.

“We want to work with these managers to give them feedback, to engage with them to make them understand where they stand in terms of diversity and inclusion compared to their peers, and if they are late, we want to let them know, said Sutton. “We want to let them know that we know and we judge them.

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Benjamin Steele

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