A Synopsis of Citibank’s Amazing Expansion in the Late 1990s and Early 2000s
Over a twenty-year period, Citigroup as an organization transformed from a modest company to an industry leader, possessing tremendous resources and significant decentralized finance news market power. Citigroup’s share price has increased almost three thousand percent from 1990 to 2000, compared to the market’s overall approximate 450% growth.
The focal point of management’s vision was to become a “leading e-business enabler”. The company identified the efficiencies offered by the digitization and automation of internal and client processes. In addition, globalization represented an unprecedented growth opportunity given the perfect competition of the retail market, and the arguably oligopolistic (domestic) and monopolistic competition (globally) position of Citibank as one of a few global money center banks serving Fortune 500 companies.
The shared pursuit to attain the fruits of globalization fostered the joint need between Citibank and its blue-chip corporate clients to evolve the organization and processes to best position the firm to leverage international opportunities. While Citibank attained the technological, operational and cost efficiencies presented by e-initiatives – migration of clients away from legacy systems, the new capabilities did not inherently foster inimitable resources (capital) for the company.
To be sure, the company’s e-initiatives developed new capabilities to supplement the core business similar to a number of technology initiatives in other industry sectors. As such, innovation (revenues) and market share (profit) gains were likely predicated on the quality of the banking relationship and collaborative servicing efforts in the form of high-level management committees, cohesiveness of relationship managers and product managers, customer call centers, and other byproducts of the newly decentralized organization. In addition, we would attribute growth realized by the banking business to broader macroeconomic trends.
We would attribute the restrained creation of shareholder value to management’s inability to fully monetize the lauded synergies of the “financial services supermarket” proposed under the leadership of Sanford Weil. Management presented the array of cross-selling product opportunities to consumer and corporate clients, and the resultant creation of shareholder value as a consequence.