Jane Fraser was making huge decisions at Citigroup even before making history as the first female CEO of a major US bank.
During her 17 years with the company, she: led the massive restructuring of Citi’s global M&A business in the midst of a global financial crisis; manage the company’s mortgage business at a time when the government increasingly controls the mortgage practices of banks; and overhauled Citi’s operations in Latin America, which included reducing retail banking and credit card operations in Brazil and Argentina and launching a new payments system in Mexico that allows consumers to make payments. purchases using QR codes on mobile phones.
Now, seven months into his new role, Fraser is leading a company-wide restructuring aimed at unifying and simplifying business operations, improving profitability and returning more capital to shareholders.
Fraser is America’s most powerful banking woman for 2021. The honor is less the fact that she breaks a glass ceiling than the recognition of a brilliant career and the fact that she runs one of the greatest. banks around the world, with $ 2.2 trillion in assets and some 200,000 employees in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions.
Fraser’s first big move came in January – two months before she officially became CEO – when the company announced it was merging two wealth management divisions into a single business unit called Citi Global Wealth. The combination brings together wealth management services for the ultra-rich and the less wealthy under one roof.
She also made the decision to sell Citi’s retail banking franchises in 13 foreign markets and is leading the company in what she calls a “transformation” of risk management systems and internal controls. The overhaul became urgent last fall when the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency slapped the company with enforcement action and a $ 400 million civil fine for failing to address long-standing issues. related to risks.
“A lot of what we’re looking at… is not just the ‘what’ but also the ‘how’,” Fraser told investors at an industry conference in June. “And that’s where our transformation takes place. … It’s about making sure we position our businesses and determining which will be most useful and which will not. And so we’re going to either get away with it or really reduce it. “It is a question of” concentrating, choosing the spots and then playing to win, all with the aim of increasing returns “.
Fraser plans to present his full view of Citi at an Investor Day scheduled for March 2, 2022.
It’s too early to assess Fraser’s performance as CEO, but Barclays analyst Jason Goldberg has said she’s “off to a good start” in trying to balance company restructuring with the urgent need to respond to regulators’ concerns regarding risk management.
“Look, it takes a long time to right a big ship and despite the downsizing Citi is still a big company,” Goldberg said. “But … she has the right skills [and] she makes a plan. Then it all comes down to execution.