Thursday, June 13, 2024

Citigroup executive responsible for implementing thousands of job cuts quits

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The Citigroup executive in charge of implementing the bank’s sweeping restructuring plan has quit for a job at a non-profit firm, depriving the bank of one of the most senior Black women in finance.

Titi Cole’s exit, after four years at the bank, comes a month after Citi said it had completed the core of a reorganisation that chief executive Jane Fraser unveiled in September.

Fraser, in an internal memo, also announced that Mike Whitaker, who leads the operations and technology teams, was also leaving the bank. At the same time it is hiring Tim Ryan, the outgoing US head of PwC, as the new head of its technology and legacy franchises teams.

Ryan had been the favourite to become the global chair of the Big Four accounting firm, but bowed out of the race late last year after encountering opposition and had previously said he planned to retire at the end of June. PwC brought forward the US leadership transition, saying on Tuesday that Paul Griggs would become US senior partner immediately.

Cole is leaving as Citi is still well short of its goal of eliminating 20,000 jobs — roughly 10 per cent of its staff — by the end of next year. The bank said last month that it had told 7,000 employees that their jobs were being cut. It has said some of the remaining cuts would come from automation over time.

Investors have cheered the restructuring, which reoriented the bank around its five business lines, after years of lacklustre share price performance. Its stock has climbed about 50 per cent since September.

Inside the bank the verdict on the restructuring has been more mixed, as the thousands of lay-offs have unsettled employees.

First-quarter earnings were better than expected despite the disquiet, with fees from investment banking rising more than rivals, though profits were still down about 25 per cent on the first quarter of last year.

Fraser has said the bank’s new structure has improved efficiency by eliminating a layer of upper management and support teams. But the restructuring has also created a new operating unit within the bank — Citi’s client division — which has sucked up thousands of employees.

Cole’s exit also removes one of the most senior women besides Fraser from the bank, after the chief executive appointed five men to head the new divisions. Cole joined Citi four years ago from Wells Fargo, where she had helped to revive the US-focused bank’s troubled consumer unit in the wake of multiple scandals.

Two years ago, Cole was handed the job of managing Citi’s exit from consumer banking in more than a dozen countries as part of a push to simplify the bank, a task that is mostly complete. But a big piece of that job remains unfinished, as the group last year shifted from trying to sell its large consumer bank in Mexico to offloading the unit in an initial public offering, which is expected next year.

Cole was put in charge of managing the implementation of the current restructuring late last year.

A person familiar with the circumstances of Cole’s departure said it was unrelated to the restructuring and she had been planning to leave the bank for a non-profit even before the latest revamp was announced.

Additional reporting by Stephen Foley in New York

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