How does a company lose 69 million customers? Just ask Citigroup.
Bloomberg News reports that once upon a time, about a decade ago, the bank had a global retail empire stretching from Tokyo to Tegucigalpa. It offered consumer banking in 50 countries, covering half the planet’s land mass, and served 268m people.
Then a financial crisis, billions of dollars of losses from complicated securities linked to subprime mortgages and a government bailout upended its plans. The bank has since sold or shut retail operations in more than half the countries in which it had a presence, including Guatemala, Egypt and Japan. It reduced the number of branches in the U.S. by more than two-thirds and has gotten out of subprime lending, student loans and life insurance. In the process, it let go about 25% of its customers along with more than 40% of its workforce.
“Banks are figuring out that providing every product and every service to every client in every country was just wrong,” said Vikram Pandit, who led Citigroup from 2007 to 2012 and used to tout what he called the company’s globality. “So they are unwinding and shedding assets. We’re not close to being done.”
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