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Martin Carpenter to retire (from banking)

Martin Carpenter’s “fantastic career” as Citi’s local head of securities services will draw to a close later this year. He’s got no set destination in mind, but there’s still plenty of travel on the cards.

Carpenter’s 13-year stint as the head of Citi Securities Services for Australasia will conclude in the third quarter of 2022. Stepping into the role will be Mark England, current co-head of sales for Citi Securities Services in APAC, who will relocate to Australia from Hong Kong. While officially it’s a retirement, Carpenter himself says that it’s more a “retirement from banking”.

Mark England

“I’ve been pondering my next steps and it felt like in the last few months it was shaping up as a good time,” Carpenter said. “You’d be surprised, but there’s no big plans. I’m keeping a list of hobbies and courses I want to do, and some potential careers, but nothing definitive. The emotional step of this one was a big enough thing to do in itself. I’ll take a good pause and into next year start to think more seriously about what’s next.”

“I think it’s at a big inflection point now for me and the business. I think it’s a good time for me because I’m personally looking to do something different, and it’s going to be a very orderly change and a long transition to a colleague of mine who I’ve worked with for many years… We really couldn’t hope for a smoother transition.

The last two years have left few with any desire to spend more time at home. Carpenter’s downtime will instead comprise trips to country Australia to visit friends and tour the wine regions. The break will be well-earned.

Carpenter and Citi are fresh from the completion of the RBC client transfer, which this publication described at the time as “one of the biggest and most complex of back office transitions.” That transfer added about $100 billion in assets under custody from 26 new clients and 150 staff across Citi’s Australian business service offices in Sydney, Melbourne, and Kuala Lumpur.

It also pushed Citi ahead of Northern Trust to take the number two position on the Australian Custodial Services Association tables (as at 14 February, 2022). Just as scale has become increasingly important to the super funds custodians service, custodians themselves have had to get bigger to stay competitive in a post-Your Future, Your Super world.

“Closing the RBC transaction successfully and on-boarding the clients (was a high point). But equally with that it was the way the two teams came together,” Carpenter said. “I don’t know whether we were just culturally aligned but the way that people have co-operated and worked in partnership – there was a lot of rolling up the sleeves and people were quite comfortable to step outside their job description to get things done.”

“There’s been some really fascinating transactions that I’ve been involved in. In the early days our division used to support the investment bank on some of their M&A activity, including when Fortescue was first launched as a company with a $2 billion high-yield bond. It was extraordinary to be a support player in the whole thing but to witness the way that played out was one of the highpoints.”

In recent years, the industry has been in a “commoditised phase” where it was difficult to differentiate between the offerings of custodians. That’s starting to change, Carpenter says, with innovations like distributed ledger technology and big data helping Citi to separate from the pack.

“Australia is now a market where we do look quite different to some of our competitors,” Carpenter says. “Some of it is those technology things; some of it is that our product set looks different. We’re part of a universal bank, we do unit registry ourselves. It’s been partly strategic, partly fortuitous that we’ve ended up with an offering that does allow us to grow quite strongly from where we are today.”

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