North benefits from a bright light of the big Citi
Belfast Briefing: Not only does Anna Moss lead Citi in Belfast, she is credited with helping to bring investment
Belfast’s Titanic Quarter: this year Citi bank celebrates its 10th anniversary in Northern Ireland. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Having an office just a stone’s throw away from where the bow of the Titanic first kissed the river Lagan could be a little unsettling for someone who claims to have a powerful dislike of water.
Moss is a managing director and general counsel with Citi, the bank founded in New York in 1812 and now a global institution with 200 million customer accounts in more than 160 countries. She is also a member of Citi’s office of the general counsel Emea senior management team and general counsel Belfast – which is why her office is in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.
This year Citi celebrates its 10th anniversary in the North. The group was the first major tenant in what is being ambitiously marketed as the city’s new financial services district.
When Citi announced plans to open a technology centre of excellence in Belfast in November 2004, it was hoped the banking group would create about 375 jobs by 2009.
It has since brought additional information technology, securities and banking operations, as well as human resources, legal and compliance functions, to Belfast. What started out as small-time romance between Belfast and Citi has blossomed into a full-blown love affair that has generated more than 1,400 jobs to date.
Moss says a lot of this success is down to the “extraordinary talent pool”.
“One of the four pillars in terms of the reasons why we are here is talent. That is at the top of my list and, to be frank, for all the various reasons that we decided to come here the main driver for me running legal operations was the talent. There is a very impressive talent pool – very little skills set but a good talent pool with so much potential.”
Moss also highlights how the group is focused on building successful relations between business and universities and local governments.
So will Citi’s success in the North prompt other major financial institutions to follow in its footsteps?
“People ask me frequently why no other banks come and if anyone else going to come. I think there are a number of reasons for the other big banks – they have already got established footprints or, in some cases, they are going through the trauma of reorganisation because of regulatory issues,” Moss says.
“The long-term view is [Belfast] is a great position to be in, with very little competition at this stage. Ultimately, if other people do come in and take the same approach as we have – to hire, to train, to coach, to grow – then over time we will build a fluid financial services legal market here with a developed skills set so that staff have an opportunity to move around.”
Moss adds: “It has been a very successful environment for us here and continues to be.”
Moss is unofficially credited – and would probably modestly decline all knowledge if asked – with helping Invest NI land several high-profile investment projects such as Allen & Overy’s legal services centre in Belfast.
Earlier this year, her role in helping to create jobs and bring investment to the North was recognised when she received an MBE for “services to economic development in Northern Ireland”.
“It is a milestone for me – wonderful – but it is also a massive recognition for the achievements of the team here,” Moss says.
Her MBE medal will have to vie for pride of place in her Titanic Quarter office with another award, however. It’s a somewhat nondescript and frankly less valuable sports trophy but, to Moss, what it represents is invaluable.
Community activities Every year Citi holds a global community day during which its staff are encouraged to go out into their local communities and volunteer or do some fundraising activity. One year Citi’s senior management team in Belfast opted to take part in a charity dragon boat race.
Moss says she is “absolutely terrified of boats” but she wanted to be part of something she believes in – corporations, in her opinion, have responsibilities.
“I generally do not go on boats because I do not like the water. My approach in the dragon boat race was not to be in the boat very long – just to cruise through it so we didn’t have to hit round two and three,” she says.
“But once I was in the boat, I could see everyone else was getting all pumped up and excited about it, and I couldn’t help myself and I said there is no way we are going to lose this race – so we went through all the various heats and we won it.”
And that’s exactly the kind of person Northern Ireland needs to fight its corner.