Citigroup Isn’t Even Good At the Only Thing It’s Good At

Things are not good when your new CEO’s priority number one is to “stop destroying our shareholders’ capital.” But The Wall Street Journal isn’t above kicking a bank when it’s down.

The latest weak point to be splashed on the cover of the C Section is Citi’s retail banking operation, which is still in the hands of one of Vikram Pandit’s cronies and which has the highest average deposits per branch of top lenders but which may or may not still keep track of customer accounts longhand. Plus, there’s this compelling anecdote in the lede:

Adam Greenfield has been a Citibank customer for 15 years, but he has grown frustrated with what he calls its poor service and “tone deaf” efforts to sell him new products.

After Mr. Greenfield’s account at the Citigroup unit was compromised late last year, he decided he had enough. Now, Mr. Greenfield, who runs an urban-design practice in Manhattan, is looking for a new bank.

“I never found that they particularly cared about me,” he said.

Unsurprisingly for a bank so “tone-deaf,” Citi was not interested in commenting on the experience of a single (soon-to-be-former) client.

But read on: There’s an antiquated computer system that won’t be upgraded until next year; some cutbacks in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Texas; and higher costs than at other retail banks. There’s also some evidence contrary to the thesis:

The unit earned $231 million in the fourth quarter, a 41% increase from the same period a year earlier but a 32% drop from the third quarter of 2012.

A Citibank spokeswoman said the North American retail bank has shown improvements in other ways.

It finished 2012 with the highest checking balances, the highest annualized checking growth and the lowest attrition in five years. Acquisition of new customers was the highest since 2009.

“We’re not where we want to be by any means, but we are making progress,” Ms. Stewart said in a recent interview.

No matter, say unnamed sources.

Now, the pressure is mounting on Ms. Stewart to deliver results, according to analysts and company insiders.

And the branches are so much less cozy than the WaMu sites that Chase took over.

Citi Still Lagging in Retail Overhaul [WSJ]

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28 Responses to “Citigroup Isn’t Even Good At the Only Thing It’s Good At”

  1. BelzeBubba says:

    Shaz vs Matt in a fight to the death.

    Who will win?

  2. Guest says:

    Does anyone else find this title ironic?

    -Guy questioning Shazar's career choice

  3. Back door guest says:


    Two part question
    Did you actually get paid for this post?
    Did it really take you all day to write it?

  4. Bejujular says:

    I'm trying to guess what the point of this post is?

    Is it that Jon is a terrible "writer"?

  5. Inner Matt Thoughts says:

    Shazar has Nick Cannon Presents Wild 'n Out on DVD

  6. Shazgay says:

    Given Vikram's general contempt of female management I wouldn't go so far as to assume she's one of his "cronies" (see: Old Lane).

    And an antiquated computer network! Such breaking news Jon, good scoop. JPMorgan's triparty repo platforms, on which the entire banking system relies, are leftovers from Manufacturer's Hanover and Chemical Bank and they still crank out my allocations on command. It's industry-wide.

    I also wouldn't throw stones about shitty IT systems given the technical performance of this site since since you showed up, champ.

  7. Jon Shazar says:

    Guys, please cool it. I'm trying my best.

    You don't know what it's like!

  8. Hobbes says:

    I don't know about you Jon, but I was taught to never start a sentence with the word 'but' in elementary school.

  9. guest says:

    a simple "wrong" would've done just fine.


  10. 10xLevered says:

    I got you Shazar. You got pretty pumped up by the positive response you got on your first Citi dig and you thought "Wow! This writing thing is really easy! The Dealbreaker commentariat loves me!" And then you go ahead and try to rehash the same shit. But worse.

  11. guesticles says:

    If you are bundling DB posts into tranches, how can I make sure the Shazar stuff is sold to UBS again?

  12. Freedom of Speech says:

    You disgust me.

  13. Guest says:

    Wait, I thought that Citi was only good at destroying shareholder capital? I'm pretty sure we have solid evidence that they have that down to a science

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  16. seks sohbet says:

    p by the positive response y una mezcla de alumnio y manganeso (

  17. now much of financial/banking subject. Citigroup as in Citibank?

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