Citigroup to dissolve consumer banking in UK

Citigroup is planning to dissolve its consumer banking business in the United Kingdom as part of a companywide initiative to focus less on overseas retail banking and more on wealth management.

The New York megabank will restructure its U.K. operations to zero in on personal banking and wealth management to serve wealthy clients in that market, it said in a press release. 

Citi said it will invite U.K. retail clients with wealth management needs to join its private bank. Those customers who don’t transition to the private bank would have their accounts closed, and the “overwhelming majority of clients” would not be affected until 2023, the company said.

The company, which is currently consulting with U.K. retail branch employees, said that no final decision on the wind-down can be taken until that process is finalized.

The bank’s U.K. retail business is small, with just one branch in London’s Canary Wharf area. If the branch closes, it will have “immaterial financial impact” to the company, the company said.

The Financial Times was the first to report the company’s U.K. retail plans, which were officially announced Wednesday.

Citi’s announcement is the latest development in the $2.4 trillion-asset company’s ongoing journey under CEO Jane Fraser to ditch less productive businesses and focus instead on those that ultimately are expected to generate stronger shareholder returns. In April 2021, Fraser announced plans to exit consumer banking in 13 overseas markets where Citi’s operations were too small to compete. The bank initially set out to find buyers for all 13 franchises but has since decided to unwind operations in both South Korea and Russia

In January, it added Mexico to the list of places where it would get out of consumer banking.

To date, Citi has found buyers for nine of the international franchises, leaving Mexico, China and Poland as the three remaining countries where exit strategies have not yet been finalized.

About two months before Fraser took the reins as CEO in March 2021, Citi created a single global wealth management division. As part of its effort to double down on wealth management, it has also established wealth centers in London, Singapore, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.

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