Citigroup – Citigroup’s Jane Fraser, First Girl to Run Main U.S. Bank, Discusses Her Plans
In September, Jane Fraser shattered the monetary trade’s final glass ceiling when she was named the following chief govt officer of Citigroup Inc., one of many world’s three most essential banks. Weeks later, she was saddled with regulatory homework by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Workplace of the Comptroller of the Forex, which mentioned the bank should replace its expertise and techniques to higher handle threat.
Born in Scotland, the 53-year-old Fraser involves the job with a gold-plated résumé: levels from Cambridge and Harvard and profession stops at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and McKinsey & Co. earlier than she joined Citigroup in 2004. There she served below three CEOs because the New York-based megabank grappled with losses, bailouts, and strategic repositioning throughout the Nice Recession and its aftermath. She helped as the corporate disposed of just about half of its belongings and minimize tens of 1000’s of jobs, an expertise she says will information her in managing future challenges.
As she prepares to take over in February, Fraser says she is planning to put money into a few of the bank’s largest companies, together with its sprawling custody community and its burgeoning wealth administration effort. In mid-November, as Covid-19 instances have been spreading quickly, she spoke with Bloomberg Markets by way of videoconference from her workplace in New York about her profession and her ideas on the way forward for finance.
JENNY SURANE : To start out, I’m very curious what it’s been wish to expertise this enormous profession change at a loopy time like this. It’s most likely not what you have been anticipating.
JANE FRASER : It’s an attention-grabbing time as a result of I believe Covid has modified fairly a number of issues. It has definitely accelerated digitization. It’s modified the constructions of our purchasers’ industries. It’s altering our personal trade sooner than we thought would occur. So that you’re making an attempt to deliver a recent perspective to what the agency shall be targeted on by way of technique, but in addition fascinated about our individuals, fascinated about the macro setting, these different dimensions. It’s form of been a confluence of fine timing to suppose all of these issues by way of.
However I additionally suppose it’s been fairly a divisive interval. We’re definitely fearful there’s a little bit of a Ok-shaped restoration popping out of Covid. Banks are going to play an important function in serving to to drive the restoration. We do anticipate it to be fairly sluggish. We’re definitely seeing it in client [banking]: You’ve obtained the “haves” and also you’ve obtained those that are actually struggling. I believe it goes to that sense of, what are the values of the trade? How can we ensure that we’re a part of the answer? Not simply from the monetary market perspective. I believe all of us realized many classes out of the final disaster about what a bank actually is and [the role it] must play.
So it’s digital. It’s about humanity. There’s clearly the [environmental, social, and governance] agenda, however in an actual approach—not a plaque on the wall or simply good statements. And Mike [Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat] has given me an enormous present by way of time of transition. He’s been a pacesetter of such integrity within the bank. His legacy goes to be considered in [terms of] the place we have been popping out of the disaster to the place we’re as we speak—it has been fairly outstanding. Huge footwear to fill. The apprenticeship I’ve had with him over the past couple of months and going ahead has been very useful as a result of it means it’s not such a jolting transition for the agency.
JS : I hoped we may additionally go approach again and discuss your upbringing in Scotland. You’re solely the second Citi CEO born outdoors the U.S. after Vikram Pandit, who was born in India. Does that provide you with a unique perspective?
JF : We’re a really world bank. We’re firmly American, however we’re additionally very world. I actively selected to return and stay within the States. However then again, I include the angle of somebody who’s lived all around the world and who’s seen the nice, the unhealthy, and the ugly round that.
I don’t suppose it makes an enormous distinction for Citi as a result of numerous the individuals’s careers in Citi have been in numerous companies all around the globe. I take a look at the administration staff and, you realize, it’s a veritable United Nations. It’s extra of a worldwide mindset. Globalization has had a nasty rap of late. However there’s good and unhealthy in every little thing. The worldwide mindset is a optimistic one as a result of it does make you not simply suppose you’ve obtained a monopoly on the easiest way of doing issues. You do are typically very inquisitive about how issues are being finished elsewhere. And that’s numerous the mindset within the agency, and it’s an important one.
JS : May you are taking me again to why you determined to hitch Citi in 2004 from McKinsey?
JF : Yeah, I believe there have been a few issues. Once I turned companion at McKinsey, I labored half time all of the years of my partnership. The children have been little, and my husband was form of on the peak arduous work a part of his profession as nicely. He’s 11 years older than me, as I wish to remind him continually. He says it makes him extra clever. At that time [in 2004], the children have been at college, they have been settled, and I used to be prepared to return full time. I beloved McKinsey, however I used to be able to not simply advise however to truly do. I needed to see if I may really do reasonably than simply write the presentation.
And what I beloved about Citi is the globality of the place. It was just like McKinsey—that world mindset of individuals from all around the world with totally different points of view and sophisticated, fascinating alternatives and points to unravel for purchasers.
It’s a firm that basically helped corporations and people to develop globally and to entry world markets. What’s really distinctive in regards to the agency is that it doesn’t simply achieve this out of world hubs, that it does so domestically as nicely and actually has an impression on the bottom.
And I see it on totally different dimensions. We’ve given microfinance [loans] now to three million ladies around the globe. It’s occurring on the grassroots stage in nations all around the world, and it’s not a quantity you hear as usually, however it’s an enormous quantity. In the event you’re going to allow progress, numerous this occurs at a group stage and on the native stage. And I like the truth that we’re in a position to do each. Do the massive world impacts, but in addition have the impression domestically. It’s a bit quieter, however it’s usually extra impactful in some methods.
JS : Are there key moments out of your profession that you simply suppose actually ready you for this subsequent function?
JF : Yeah, I believe numerous the time throughout the [financial] disaster. I had been engaged on [then-Chief Financial Officer] Gary Crittenden’s staff with [current CFO] Mark Mason, Sara Wechter, who’s head of HR. There was a bunch of us who have been a part of that actual disaster the place we thought the system was taking place. We have been all within the company heart, making an attempt to set the technique and assist lead the agency by way of this. And there have been a number of seminal moments.
I’d say one was with Vikram. We have been sitting in one of many large convention rooms up on the previous head workplace and Vikram’s there, and over the Sharpie and the whiteboard we simply absolutely acknowledged that the agency had failed in most of the core missions. We’d forgotten to be a bank. We have been sitting there saying, “OK, but there are some extraordinary things in the bank itself, assets and businesses.” And he mainly mentioned, “So if you’re starting from scratch, what would you pull from Citi?” And it was how we separated Citi from Citi Holdings [the unit that contained assets the bank no longer wanted].
And we began with the client base—the multinationals—and mentioned that’s what everybody needs from Citi. It’s a systemically precious community that gives cash administration, overseas exchange, commerce, lending. That platform and that community globally could be virtually inconceivable to copy. And we mainly constructed out what the agency was from there, and due to this fact what went into Holdings. And what went into Holdings, it was fairly daring: 48% of the belongings of the bank on the time, 100,000 workers. It was numerous companies, a few of which have been actually troubled from the monetary disaster, however others that have been simply nice companies that didn’t actually match together with his imaginative and prescient of what the agency was.
That’s one thing I attempt to deliver each time: to mortgages, to the personal bank after I ran it, to Latin America and Citibanamex [Citi’s Mexican bank]. You begin with: What’s the imaginative and prescient of the long run? What’s that progress, return, shopper story going to be? And you then go and resolve for the remaining. That basically formed me.
And I believe the opposite piece that formed me was simply being daring, being brave. You needed to be very decisive, you needed to take robust selections, a lot better to take them early. If we hadn’t offered our German client franchise, if we hadn’t offered our large business actual property enterprise—there have been numerous totally different companies that we exited in 2007 and in early 2008, thank goodness, as a result of when the disaster actually hit, we might have had a a lot more durable time. So I realized to be a lot bolder. And in case you make a incorrect determination, you make one other determination. These have been actually the 2 issues: What’s the imaginative and prescient? And be daring. Take these robust selections. Gumption. I’m making an attempt to deliver the identical values and pondering to the agency going ahead.
JS : Once I take a look at your path by way of the bank, there are numerous current stops on the patron banking aspect. Does your elevation to CEO inform us something about the place Citi is searching for progress?
JF : Really, I spent most of my profession at Citi and earlier than on the wholesale aspect. My first three years at Citi have been within the funding and the company bank, after which company heart, after which the personal bank was within the institutional division. And so it was solely in mortgages after which the retail bank that was my first time in client. After which in Latin America we offered our [retail] franchises in South America. And there we have been actually working a giant institutional franchise, though clearly Citibanamex is rather more retail. So I’ve really had extra of a wholesale and institutional focus. The identical after I was at McKinsey. I’ve loved studying extra in regards to the client franchise.
Have a look at the funds area going ahead. I noticed this in Latin America and numerous geographies as we have been digitizing the wholesale purchasers. Take [Argentina’s state-run] YPF, one of many large oil corporations. We have been digitizing their fee system from the fuel pump all the best way to the treasury. However we have been beginning to deliver a few of our know-how from the patron aspect into that as a result of wholesale and retail funds are converging.
So, having been concerned in each side of the enterprise, you begin seeing the place the points of connectivity are as we take a look at how digitization is altering. I’ve benefited by working in totally different areas of the world and in numerous components of the enterprise.
Once I first moved into mortgages, I knew nothing about mortgages. So one of many items I definitely realized is that it’s a must to get a staff round you who is aware of greater than you do, and who’re stronger subject material consultants, after which get them to work nicely and flourish collectively. I now have the boldness to do this, in any other case you’re not going to succeed.
JS : I did wish to drill down into your expertise in Latin America as a result of that was the function you held the longest and that you simply had earlier than you have been named president and placed on this path to changing into the following CEO. Did that step really feel like a profession threat, or was it extra strategic? You flew below the radar there for a short while.
JF : Among the best items of recommendation I ever obtained was, don’t take into consideration what are the roles that may get you to the extra senior job. Take into consideration the experiences and the roles that may make it possible for when you’re in one thing [bigger], you’ll be rather more profitable at it. Once I went from the personal bank to mortgages, numerous people have been questioning why. However it was as a result of it gave me publicity to totally different dangers. I hadn’t managed unsecured threat earlier than. I hadn’t had numerous expertise working a corporation extra targeted round ops [operations] and tech. I hadn’t had numerous regulatory expertise and dealing with [Capitol] Hill or with the board and getting publicity there.
After which clearly rising markets in Latin America. Once I was down in LatAm [from 2015-19], we had the Venezuelan disaster. Negotiating with the federal government there was not simple. [We were] ensuring our individuals have been protected. We’d been in Venezuela a century, and numerous multinationals trusted Citi’s presence there. We labored by way of the disaster in Argentina, which was a serious monetary disaster. We had the Brazilian melancholy—they’d the worst financial situations in a century.
However numerous the time in Mexico was [figuring out] the right way to take what was an iconic bank, however one which was challenged, and convey it into a way more trendy period, a extra trendy tradition, and reinstill the delight and the aim behind the work. It’s an identical strategy to the work we’re doing now in response to the [U.S. regulators’] consent orders. What’s the imaginative and prescient of the bank? What’s this rather more trendy bank? And galvanizing the group across the transformation agenda reasonably than simply remediating points within the order. Now we have numerous help from the regulators and the board round that.
JS : What are you studying from the work you’re doing thus far?
JF : One of many issues has been “phone a friend.” I used to be on the telephone speaking to [CEO] Brian Moynihan at Bank of America and speaking to [consumer lending division CEO] Marianne Lake over at JPMorgan. They’ve gone by way of related transformations. In the case of security and soundness and these points—we’ll be die-hard rivals on a deal or a pitch—however when one thing’s good for the entire monetary system, there’s a extra noble objective in there. Speaking to them has been very useful. And having [chief administrative officer] Karen Peetz, who’s had expertise from outdoors [as president of BNY Mellon Corp. and a board member at Wells Fargo & Co.].
The investments we have to make to fulfill the orders, we’re placing a world-class bar in opposition to them in order that we’re really actually modernizing them for a digital period and that post-Covid world the place all of these trade constructions would have modified. So numerous work on end-to-end enterprise processes, numerous cultural work as nicely. We simply discuss excellence and the right way to make it possible for we’ve obtained excellence in what we do for purchasers and what we do operationally and what we do from a threat and management perspective. And that’s bar. However it’s additionally one which feels in tune with the age the place you eliminate the bling and simply concentrate on the fundamentals and ensure they’re actually robust and make individuals proud. That’s the purpose.
JS : Rivals admire Citigroup’s treasury and commerce options community and your branch-light client model within the U.S. What different components of Citi do you suppose deserve extra consideration?
JF : I believe wealth [management] is definitely an space that Paco [Ybarra, CEO of the institutional clients group] and I’ve been taking a look at very carefully. We take a look at Asia with Peter Babej, who’s our companion [and CEO of Citi business] out in Asia, we take a look at the expansion in wealth that’s on the market. Citi does have an iconic model, an aspirational model in Asia. The buyer franchises, significantly in Singapore and Hong Kong—numerous that’s been round a wealth proposition.
Now we have our business bank around the globe, which actually helps entrepreneurs. There are $100 million corporations in revenues as we speak who will usually be pondering in a number of geographies. In order that they want our platform and our community on cash administration, overseas exchange, and so on., to do this. So we assist them. That’s usually the place the supply of numerous the wealth is being created—in these business bank relationships in addition to the institutional division. We’ve obtained a extremely excellent high-end personal bank. In order we take a look at wealth, we see this as a possibility to deliver the patron and the institutional enterprise collectively on this area over the following few years. That’s an space that we expect is underappreciated. It suits with the model, with the historical past, with our strategic identification as a bank. So it’s one you’ll hear extra from us on going ahead.
Safety companies is one other space. I noticed that in Latin America. Our custody community was extraordinary there, and plenty of of our rivals used our community around the globe. It’s one other underappreciated piece that we’ll be investing considerably in. Paco and the staff have an important technique there.
The identical once more in funds, as we see wholesale and retail coming collectively. That B2B2C [business-to-business-to-consumer] area is a reasonably attention-grabbing one for us.
JS : It’s attention-grabbing how a lot wholesale banking has been influenced by the private experiences of bankers and purchasers.
JF : The dialogue we’ve been having is how areas are altering and numerous the linkages between totally different components of the agency. Sarcastically, Covid helps. I definitely think about everybody again in [the office]. I do suppose from a cultural standpoint—apprenticeship, the sense of belonging—you might be higher collectively. However we’ve definitely realized that you may have numerous collaboration on Zoom calls and the like. We’ve needed to suppose in another way due to Covid. You by no means thought you possibly can have 20 merchants working the buying and selling ground in New York, with everybody else working from residence. That was inconceivable in January. And but, a number of months later, that’s the place we have been. It’s actually helped everybody take into consideration companies and the place alternatives lie and trade constructions. It actually obtained accelerated. I do know I’ve needed to suppose in another way.
JS : Who have been your most essential mentors alongside the best way?
JF : Let’s begin with Mike, as a result of he’s had essentially the most impression and positively from him [I learned] what the bank stands for. He’s definitely taken robust selections on getting comfy with the uncomfortable in variety, the pay hole, and [he’s chosen to be] radically clear round that. He’s been a CEO who has enormous ambitions for the bank however doesn’t have his personal private ego in there. And I believe that’s very admirable. He’ll do regardless of the bank wants him to do within the function.
After which from Vikram, you realize, he would usually deliver the dealer’s mindset. There have been no favored kids. It was that scientific, fact-based, goal decision-making on issues. And he was good round that. And that braveness I realized, definitely. And God forbid with Vikram, in case you went into his room with out your HP-12C [calculator] of the day, as a result of he may do the mathematics in his head.
At McKinsey, Lowell Bryan was a implausible mentor. He ran the monetary establishments group there, and I labored with him. He was somebody who actually pushed me out of my consolation zone on a regular basis. I’ve usually mentioned I needed to be 120% ready for every little thing, however that doesn’t push you to take extra probabilities. While you do get pushed and you are taking these large leaps, that’s while you study essentially the most. And while you fail at one thing otherwise you don’t do nearly as good a job as you possibly can have finished, get comfy choosing your self up and studying from it. That’s one of many issues I like in regards to the States. I needed to deliver my children to the States for that purpose. It’s that, OK, that didn’t go as nicely, decide your self up and get on with it and go get ’em. I like that about this nation.
JS : While you have been named CEO, there was an enormous outpouring of help from all around the banking trade and past. Had been there any reactions that stood out to you as significantly essential or significant?
JF : I beloved the dads who have been saying it was their daughter and even their sisters or wives, however significantly their daughters, that had texted them or talked about it. And, you realize, I’m a working mother. I’ve had a phenomenally supportive husband, a really affected person man, and nice children. However, nonetheless, I’m a working mother. And that simply reveals it’s doable with out being superwoman. You could be your self. And I believe that’s one thing that’s so essential.
There are such a lot of superb ladies in monetary companies. They’re a extremely spectacular group and a supportive group. All of us have nice male mentors and supporters. I’ve been very lucky to be the primary, however I’m going to be the primary of many.
[General Motors Co. CEO] Mary Barra has been tremendous and gave me some fabulous recommendation. [U.S. Chairman] Tim Ryan over at PwC has been giving me some teaching periods on weekends. And it’s not simply because I’m a lady. There’s a little bit of a way of let’s make it easier to alongside right here, which is a good spirit. I believe it makes you’re feeling optimistic about capitalism, that it’s not nearly income.
JS : To wrap up, I’d love to listen to in regards to the second you might be proudest of in your profession.
JF : One I actually beloved was once we put in place the QR code system for funds in Mexico. This began as Ernesto Torres Cantú, who was our Mexico head on the time, saying there’s lots of people right here who’ve been left behind, will not be a part of the banking system, and are actually deprived. We’d checked out India and seen from our companion there—Paytm and others—how shortly a QR code-based system [can take effect]. It doesn’t have to be that good of a telephone that’s in everyone’s arms. And in the previous couple of years everybody had obtained a cell phone in Mexico, however they didn’t all have a bank account. Working with the central bank in Mexico after which getting the opposite banks on board, we put in a nationwide fee system that labored on the bank rails. It was due to this fact well-regulated. It will be truthful. And clear and equitable. However may make an enormous distinction.
There was a shoeshine man who sits outdoors the constructing at Citibanamex. He was one of many first individuals we confirmed the right way to put the system on his telephone. And a few months later, he mentioned that he used to get robbed as he commuted residence at the very least each six weeks. He could be bodily attacked and his cash taken. And he mentioned, “I don’t get robbed anymore because it goes into a digital system.”
We’re a bank that may have an effect on stuff on the native stage in addition to take the massive world concepts. However when you possibly can translate it to the native communities quietly is when you possibly can really make a distinction. These are these human moments the place you notice that is the stuff it’s about.
Surane reviews on monetary corporations, together with Citigroup, in New York.