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Citigroup's 20,000 job cuts are not what you think

If you've been keeping abreast of recent events at Citigroup, you will know that the bank is cutting 20,000 jobs. You will also know that it's already informed London employees that cuts are coming, starting next week. But do not be deceived into thinking that you know everything. 

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When it announced the 20k layoffs last week, Citi followed up with an explanation of how it plans to achieve them. Only a small proportion of the cuts will be a direct result of the simplification initiative at the center of Project Bora Bora. 

Speaking to investors on Friday, Citi CEO Jane Fraser said that just 5,000 of the 20,000 Citi job cuts will come from a reduction in layers of management. Under Bora Bora, the bank is reducing its hierarchical complexity and cutting managerial layers from 13 to eight. In doing so, it's changing reporting lines so that senior staff will have more reports, while middle manages will have more autonomy (CFO Mark Mason outlined how this will work in his finance team here).  

The 5,000 "mainly managerial" job cuts are happening fast. Fraser said Citi's 12,000 managers have already been reduced to 10,800 as four layers were removed in three phases that began late last year. Cutting the fifth and final layer could seemingly be the most painful yet: Citi has 3,800 of its 5,000 mostly managerial job cuts still to go. When the process is over, likely at the end of Q1 this year, the bank will seemingly have up to 40% fewer managers than it started with.

Even if 5,000 managers are cut, however, Citi will still need to find another 15,000 job cuts to get to its 20,000 total.  These 15,000 additional cuts, which will take place through to 2026, will require a different approach. Fraser said they will be achieved by consolidating functions, by eliminating "stranded costs" in businesses already closed, by exiting other "marginal businesses" (including, it seems Muni bonds and distressed debt trading), by "right sizing the core expense base" and by increasing automation and efficiency. She said the bank already retired 6% of its legacy platform base and automated 90% of price verification for its priority fixed income and equities securities.  

As the additional 15,000 cuts take place over the next two years, the implication is that Citi will dig deeper into its businesses. Despite suggestions that the cuts so far contributed to the bank's terrible fourth quarter performance, Fraser said the existing cuts simply removed bureaucracy and that revenue generators were unaffected. This could yet change. 

While it cuts jobs, Citi will also be spending. Mason and Fraser said last week that the bank plans to keep investing in risk and controls and in "transformation and technology." This is why, alongside the cuts, it needs to grow revenues by between 4-5% per year. 

Last year, revenues across Citi were up 4%, driven by transaction services and US personal bank. However, they fell by 7% in markets and by 15% in the investment banking division. That's not a good start. 

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Photo by Saffu on Unsplash

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Jo
    John Wick
    25 February 2024

    Just fire Jane Fraser

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