The concept of priority banking has always existed in Bangladesh. If you look at in the traditional sense, being a priority banking customer meant having access to novelties such as a special queue, separate seating arrangements, discounted fees, etc. However, City Bank has taken the idea to another level with Citygem. If you enter their premises at Gulshan Avenue, you will see how the bank has left no stones unturned to woo the high-net-worth clients. Interviewing Fahria Huque, SVP, and Head of Citygem Priority Banking was quite an experience as she unfurled the world of luxury banking and her journey as a maverick in the field for the readers of ICE Today.

Fahria Huque,
SVP, and Head of Citygem Priority Banking

A knack for challenges

Being brought up by parents both of who were highly independent and successful individuals imbued an eagerness in Fahria from an early age to land a career that would treat both genders equally. Eventually, she had her heart set on the banking sector and took the first leap during the final days of her university life as an intern for HSBC. Her determination and passion to create her own identity as an ace banking professional saw her climb up the ladder rapidly. “I started out as a relationship officer and within a short period of time, got promoted to the Service Manager. Then I got the opportunity to work as the Department Head at HSBC Select, their Priority Banking Segment”, she added. After nine prosperous years with HSBC, Fahria believed that it was time for her to take the next step in her career. This step came in the form of Citygem where she was in charge of the Flagship Center at first before being appointed as the Head of Priority Banking. “What I always looked for was not a job, but a career and in the banking sector, I found that. My experience over the years has shaped me to become a more mature and confident individual capable of taking on great challenges, explore new horizons and chase my dreams,” she stated. Under her leadership, Citygem is continuously raising the standards and setting the benchmark through its offering for the priority segment.

A cut above the rest

The City Bank can be credited as one of the true innovators of the banking sector who never shy away from thinking out of the box and introducing new concepts. They were the first to bring Amex in Bangladesh. Their initiative known as City Alo is already making headways by empowering women not only through banking but numerous workshops as well to help them realise their dreams and potentials. “The City Bank has always believed in promoting the strength in women and we translate that philosophy within the bank as well as outside. At the moment 17% of our employees are women and one-third of our active Board Members are female. In fact, our DMD Ms. Mahia Juned is one of the very few female DMD’s in the country’s banking industry. We are frontrunners when it comes to shattering the glass ceiling,” she exclaimed. It is truly an institution that takes care of their female employees and is an active advocate for gender neutrality. However, their effort in ensuring women empowerment isn’t the only thing for which City Bank has been receiving plaudits lately. They have also ushered in an era of highly personalised and luxury banking.

Truly a Gem

As I have mentioned earlier, their flagship priority center is unlike any other bank I have ever been to and their meeting rooms (which have their own themes such as topaz, pearl, amber etc) will rival most five-star hotels in Dhaka. “We began changing the scenario of the priority sector by developing our Human Resources first. We developed Relationship Managers who act as experienced financial advisors for high-end clients,” Fahria explained. Citygem offers a unique value proposition to its clients, starting from virtual office for private business meetings, exclusive locker facility with state of the art powder room, property and real estate information desk, Limousine for 24/7 airport transfer along with our personalized meet and greet services Dhaka and Chittagong airport, unique and innovative travel/lifestyle and health packages for the clients. Recently they have also launched an exclusive service proposition for the ultra-high net worth customers known as Sapphire which pledges unprecedented privileges, trust and exclusivity features tailored to their esteem and lifestyles. “We believe in top-notch service and we go above and beyond to provide that, which sets us apart. This philosophy has helped us to attract the most high profile individuals of our country in a span of six years, we have managed to acquire more than 5000 high net worth clients, having a sum of deposit and asset portfolio of BDT 3500 Crore” she added. For their efforts, Citygem has been awarded ’The Best Bank for Premium Services’’ by Asia Money, a leading financial publication specialised in the banking sector and capital markets consecutively in both 2018 and 2019. And Fahria is one of the key individuals who have helped City Bank reach the pinnacle.

She encouraged young women everywhere to dream big, be passionate and work hard. “If there is a will, there is away. This saying has helped me overcome every obstacle in life and I truly believe that if your heart is in the right place and you have enough willpower, nothing will stop you from achieving your goals,” she concluded.

Irfan Aziz is a Sub Editor of ICE Today magazine. He is a pug enthusiast who loves looking at memes, writing and sketching.