Jane Fraser wants to simplify Citigroup Inc., the original megabank. That won’t be easy.
On Monday, Ms. Fraser takes over as chief executive of the third-biggest bank in the U.S. Once the industry’s problem child, the bank has stabilized and built up its defenses, proving sturdy and profitable even during the pandemic. Unlike her predecessors, she comes to the job at a time when Citigroup is relatively under the radar.
But Citigroup, which used to be the world’s largest financial-services firm, is struggling to keep up with rivals. While Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley are hitting new highs in market value, Citigroup’s is half of what it was in 2006. Its profit and revenue, once roughly double that of other big banks, have now been lapped by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. And last fall, regulators ordered the overhaul of vast systems underpinning its sprawling operations, raising anew questions about the bank’s complexity.
Ms. Fraser, the first woman to run a major U.S. bank, now has to reinvigorate the $2.3 trillion giant.
She will have to juggle responding to the regulators’ concerns—an expensive, multiyear project—with a reappraisal of the bank’s strategy. Already Ms. Fraser, 53 years old, has launched a “refresh” she hopes can simplify the bank inside and out, making it easier to run and improve.