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Citigroup deploys the latest installment of its transformation plan

Can Pac Swire | Flickr

Citigroup Inc. initiated its most comprehensive restructuring plan yet to better align its management structure with its business strategy and simplify the bank’s structure on Sept. 13.

The restructuring was the next step in the bank’s multi-year transformation plan after shares plummeted 40% since Jane Fraser, CEO of Citigroup, took the helm in March 2021 with her vision of unlocking Citigroup’s true value and delivering higher returns in the medium term.

In a press release, Citigroup said it would make the leaders of its five interconnected businesses report directly to Fraser and become members of the Executive Management Team, allowing them to “have greater influence on Citi’s strategy and execution, while enhancing accountability.”

Conditionally, the statement said the bank would create a new Client organization responsible for strengthening client engagement and experience, narrowing down geographic management to local–market client coverage and delivery as well as localizing legal entity management. It would consolidate leadership of all geographies outside the United States to Ernesto Torres Cantu, Head of International for Citi.

“I am determined that our bank will deliver to our full potential, and we’re making bold decisions to meet our commitments to all our stakeholders,” Fraser said in the statement. “These changes eliminate any unnecessary complexity across the bank, increase accountability for delivering excellent client services and strengthen our ability to benefit from the natural linkages that exist amongst our businesses, all with an eye toward delivering on our medium-term targets and our Transformation.”

The bank’s previous step was the exit of 13 markets in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa with an unexpected exit in its consumer banking business in Mexico with Citibanamex.

Streamlining management will result in massive layoffs for the bank, with 240,000 current employees, which is 7.43% higher than the number of employees the bank had in 2021.

Fraser said that the layoff number will come in the fourth quarter earnings report, with the full implementation by the first quarter earnings season in 2024. She said Citigroup will be able to explain to investors and analysts how these implementations deliver the “simpler organization” they’ve been looking for.

Some investors and Citigroup employees believe the changes Fraser has spearheaded are logical and remove the bureaucracy in the bank.

“Citi has a number of very good businesses,” Noor Menai, President and CEO of CTBC Bank USA, told The Financial Times. “To the extent that the changes make it easier for investors to isolate and see the performance of the individual businesses, I think that’s a good thing.”

Fraser and the leadership team at Citigroup are ambitious about the transformations they are implementing but warn employees that they want people who share their vision of the bank. 

“Get on board. We have incredibly high ambitions for this bank and the train, it’s gonna move fast,” Fraser told employees in a town hall meeting reported by The Financial Times. “So lean in, help us win with clients, help us deliver the changes, or get off the train.”

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