Citibank cleans up its portfolio

The market participants believe that it might be the first step before leaving Russia.
The new strategy of Citibank, a subsidiary of the American Citigroup, led to an outflow of retail customers. For two years, their number has decreased by 40%, and the units - by half. In Citibank, this is explained by the transition to digital channels and the clearing of the portfolio from passive customers. Experts agree that the reduction of business is aimed at reducing business in Russia quickly and painlessly in case of sanctions or other external reasons.

As several sources in the banking market told Kommersant, Citibank is gradually moving away from serving middle-class retailers, as it decided to focus on the segments of mass affluent (above average) and premium, often traveling abroad. "Citibank is literally creating conditions for middle class customers to become uncomfortable in it," one of Kommersant's sources said. "The bank closed half of the offices in two years (now there are 24. of them), significantly reduced the issue of credit maps for the mass segment. "

Indeed, according to Citibank's annual reports, since 2014 the number of its private clients has decreased by 40%, to 600 thousand people. According to the head of the private banking department of the bank, Mikhail Berner, this was due to the clearing of the portfolio from inactive accounts, which began in 2014 and is being conducted for the first time since Citi arrived in Russia, that is, since 2002. At the same time, the bank holds a firm policy of digitalization, the manager assured, the overwhelming majority of clients use the bank's services only through remote channels and have not visited offices for a long time. According to Citibank's forecasts, the number of users of remote service channels by 2018 will reach 75% of the active client base. However, one client complains that Citibank began actively translating all online, without even having implemented a card-to-card transfer service and limiting the call center's working hours.

Citibank is 100% owned by the American Citigroup, one of the largest financial institutions in the world. Its main activities are lending to legal entities and individuals, operations in the foreign exchange market and securities market. The main sources of the bank's liabilities are the funds of legal entities and balances on the accounts of citizens. As a result of the second quarter of 2017, Russian Citibank ranked 19th in terms of assets in the ranking of Interfax. According to Fitch analyst Sergei Popov, about half of Citibank's retail portfolio falls on credit cards (about 300,000).

Mr. Berner assured that the bank is working on the development of remote channels and, in particular, is looking for a solution to organize a system of transfer from card to card. "We are looking at how to ensure compliance of this service with legislation on combating the legalization of proceeds from crime. We need to thoroughly identify where the money comes from and where they are going, as soon as we figure it out, card transfers will appear, "he said. For those who need cash, the bank has provided an opportunity to withdraw them without commission at any bank's ATMs.

Also, the bank has re-arranged several offices into high-tech, where everyone can in practice learn how to work with mobile and Internet banks. "Customers come to us either through Internet channels or through direct sales," said Mikhail Berner. "We are opening a counter at Domodedovo airport, there are racks in a number of shopping centers (for example, Aviapark and Gagarinsky)."

Although the loan portfolio of individuals since the beginning of 2016 really increased by 8%, to 50.3 billion rubles., According to sources close to the bank, this was due to the increase in limits to existing customers. New extradition is extremely small, and business cuts - the conscious policy of Citibank, assures the interlocutor of "b".

According to Yegor Grigorenko, partner of the consulting company Bain and Company, if there are no new extortions, within a year and a half the entire loan portfolio of the bank will be "blown away" by about a third. The goal of such a strategy is to reduce operating costs amidst remaining high retail risks, experts believe. Also this approach, Mr. Grigorenko believes, in case of increased political tension, new sanctions or other problems, for example, large corporate clients will help the bank to quickly turn off business in Russia.