Global Head, Citi Private Bank
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We must learn lessons from our experiences during this pandemic and try to envision an improved normality.
To those of you for whom a month of heightened devotion has just begun, please let me take this opportunity to wish you Ramadan Kareem. Naturally, isolation is the antithesis of what this special period should entail. Nevertheless, I hope you will find spiritual reflection and solace, as well as looking forward to celebrating in the traditional way next year.
While it may not be an immediate prospect, life after COVID-19 is something that all of us are contemplating. As part of this, we may well ask ourselves whether things will ever be quite the same again. Happily, much of what we most treasure will ultimately be restored, particularly our ability to meet freely and share experiences together. At the same time, though, there is a growing feeling that we should strive for more than just ‘returning to normal.’ We must learn lessons from our experiences during this pandemic and try to envision an improved normality. Put simply, we need to build back better.
What might building back better involve? The possibilities are extensive. Higher environmental standards – characterized by the cleaner air that much of the world has enjoyed during recent weeks – make an obvious goal. Harlin Singh, our Global Head of Sustainable Investing, has explored how we as investors might influence these and other positive outcomes in her newly published article. Meanwhile, our approach to healthcare could put even greater emphasis on prevention – enabled by technologies such as artificial intelligence – as well as curing us when we get sick. The recent pieces by Singularity University’s executive founder Peter Diamandis envisioning tomorrow’s healthcare are well worth reading.
The scale of the task before us continues to grow, meanwhile. For all the progress in our struggle against COVID-19, the pandemic remains a huge challenge. The total number of cases has reached almost 2.7m worldwide, with more than 176,000 now having lost their lives. Even further reaching is the economic fallout. Steven Wieting estimates that a quarter of a billion people globally may have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. He and David Bailin explore what financial markets currently think about the prospects for economic recovery, and give their assessment of what rebuilding might involve in their latest note.
Of course, building back better is something to which many of you have been deeply committed since well before the pandemic. An incredible example of this is the life-changing work of Soozi Sinegal McGill and Shal Foster in Rwanda. In the wake of that nation’s devastating genocide, their vision of empowering Rwandan girls through education has borne extraordinary results. The achievements of the pupils of the school that Soozi and Shal created are nothing short of remarkable. This brief film about the school is one of the most beautiful and heart-warming things that you may see today.
On a final uplifting note, I wanted to share with you our latest musical interlude. This week’s performance is the final movement of Mahler’s Third Symphony, performed by the world-class Philharmonia Orchestra, with whom Citi is proudly partnering. This wonderful piece takes the form of a melancholic melody that builds into an ending of immense optimism and affirmation. As such, it perfectly captures both the somber climate in which we are living, and our determination to build back better. I do hope that you can take a few minutes to appreciate and be inspired by this magnificent performance.
Thank you for the trust and confidence you show in the Private Bank.