Citigroup announced Thursday it will exit 13 international consumer banking markets, shifting its focus to wealth management and away from retail banking in places where it is small. Citigroup will focus its global consumer banking business on four markets: Singapore, Hong Kong, London and the United Arab Emirates. But Citigroup will depart China, India and 11 other retail markets, where "we don't have the scale we need to compete," said Citi Chief Executive Jane Fraser.
Fraser, who moved into the CEO role in March, described the pivot as part of an effort to "double down" on wealth management, where the growth opportunities are better. Most of the markets being exited are in Asia, where Citigroup's global consumer banking business at the end of 2020 had $6.5 billion in revenues, 224 retail branches and $123.9 billion in deposits.
The move came as Citigroup reported first-quarter profits of $7.9 billion, more than three times the level in the year-ago period. Revenues fell seven percent to $19.3 billion.
As with other large banks, Citigroup's profits were bolstered by a strong performance in its investment banking and trading businesses, as well as the release of reserves set aside for bad loans. These benefits were offset somewhat by a drag from low interest rates.
The other 11 markets affected by the decision are: Australia, Bahrain, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.