Citi Private Bank Survey Finds Caution, Cash Conservation and COVID-19 Driving Investor Sentiment Into 2021

Citi Private Bank today released results from a survey led by the Private Capital Group, providing a rare insight into the thinking of some of the world’s sophisticated family offices and investors during an unprecedented health and economic crisis.

In one of the private banking industry’s most comprehensive polls* of investor sentiment since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, ultra-high net worth individuals and family offices flagged a mood of caution, cash conservation, and monitoring investment opportunities and risks created by the pandemic driving their thinking.

Nearly three-quarters of all respondents described their 12-month investment sentiment as “cautious”. Unsurprisingly, topping the list of concerns were COVID-19, both in terms of vaccine availability, as well as monetary and fiscal response by governments and central banks.

Going into 2021, nearly half of those surveyed expected meager total portfolio returns in the next four quarters of 1% to 5%. When asked what portfolio changes they now plan to make, 56% reported making “some tactical changes,” while only 14% reported making “significant portfolio changes”.

A remarkable 59% of family offices reported having increased their allocations to direct investments for the next 12 months. In terms of direct sector investments by clients in a post-COVID world, respondents named information technology (24%), healthcare (16%) and real estate (15%) as their three top preferences.

Stephen Campbell, Managing Director and Chairman, Private Capital Group, Citi Private Bank noted: “Our findings capture the sentiment of respondents from all regions of the globe. We find that family offices and ultra-high net worth individuals have weathered the crisis well. They are positioned to deploy further capital as they see opportunities arise, especially in private markets. However, it cannot be ignored that the survey found liquidity to be at a premium, and clients often willing to sacrifice short to medium term returns to maintain that.”

The survey was conducted during Citi Private Bank’s Family Office Leadership Program, which was held virtually for the first time due to social distancing restrictions. Over 4,000 family principals and office heads from more than 100 countries joined the event, often described as the “Davos for family offices”.

Peter Clive Charrington, Global Head of Citi Private Bank, commented: “The results and analysis in this report give a rare insight into the thinking of some of the world’s most sophisticated family office executives and other leading investors. We asked them about their outlook for the global economy and financial markets, as well as what they are doing with the portfolios that they oversee. The answers about the opportunities and risks ahead – and the actions that respondents expect to take – provides Citi Private Bank the opportunity to better address the challenges and needs of our global clients. We have found to a surprising degree that our clients have remained closer to their Citi team as they navigate these uncertain times.”

As part of Citi’s Institutional Clients Group, the Citi Private Capital Group is able to provide clients with institutional access and opportunities in both the public and private markets. Over the last several months, the group has received a heightened level of client inquiries around what other Single Family Offices are doing especially regarding commercial real estate and liquidity solutions. Citi Private Bank serves more than 1,400 family offices and private investment companies in more than 80 countries.

*About the survey:

The Private Capital Survey 2020 was conducted as part of Citi Private Bank’s 2020 Family Office Leadership Program, held from 15 June to 8 July 2020. While the program ran for three weeks, polling for the survey was conducted online over a longer period from 12 June to 20 July 2020. It drew responses from a total of 179 participants. Of the stated number of respondents, 127 (or 71%) were those with family offices, while the remaining 52 (or 29%) were ultra-high net worth individuals who do not have a family office. In total, respondents hailed from 103 different countries.

About Citi Private Bank:

Citi Private Bank is dedicated to serving worldly and wealthy individuals and families, providing customized private banking across borders. With around $500 billion in total client business, the franchise serves clients across 50 cities in over 100 countries. Citi Private Bank helps clients grow and preserve wealth, finance assets, make cash work harder, safeguard assets, preserve legacies, and serve family and family business needs. The firm offers clients products and services covering capital markets, managed investments, portfolio management, trust and estate planning, investment finance, banking and aircraft finance, art advisory and finance, and sports finance.


Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

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Media contact :
Gabriel Morales
Citi Private Bank Communications

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