Citi hires BofA vet Plaus to lead North America private bank

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Citi has appointed Don Plaus, head of private wealth at Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch, to lead its private bank operations in North America, effective April 1, according to an internal memo seen Wednesday by Reuters.

Plaus will replace Hale Behzadi and will report to Ida Liu, Citi’s global head of private banking, according to the memo.

The move will reunite Plaus with former colleague Andy Sieg, who left Merrill Lynch last March to join Citi as its head of global wealth.

Plaus announced his retirement from Merrill in February 2023 — only to delay his plans when Sieg said he was leaving.

“Don has extensive [high net worth] and [ultra high net worth] leadership experience in North America, having been at Merrill Lynch for more than 30 years,” Liu said in the announcement, also seen by AdvisorHub.

Behzadi, meanwhile, is stepping down at the end of the month after 22 years at Citi. Before her current role, she worked as a market manager in Southern California and, later, in the west region, according to LinkedIn. She spent 12 years at Bank of America before moving to Citi.

Citi last week announced it had hired away Antonio Gonzales from JPMorgan to lead its Latin America private-banking business. Gonzales, a 17-year JPMorgan veteran, had been head of that bank’s Brazil private bank.

In a March 2023 memo, Citi CEO Jane Fraser said the bank’s expanding wealth management arm is a “core pillar of our strategy [that] will improve our business mix by adding more fee-based revenue and drive improved returns.”

However, Fraser told investors in January that the wealth unit was lagging and “isn’t where it needs to be,” according to the Financial Times.

Citi’s wealth revenue fell 3% year-over-year in the fourth quarter, and the bank’s private-bank revenues sunk 10% over the same span, according to its January earnings report.

Citi is in the midst of a good run of hiring coups. The bank lured Viswas Raghavan from JPMorgan last month, to serve as head of banking and executive vice chair.

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