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BANKING

Jane Fraser faces two big challenges as Citi’s CEO in waiting

It seems odd that a good soldier like Mike Corbat should hand to one of his colleagues the tough task of leading Citi through the Covid battlefield.

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When Jane Fraser takes over as chief executive of Citigroup in February, she will face two big problems: JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America.

Unusual among the big three American banks, Citi’s brand is far stronger outside the US, while it is a less significant force in its home market – the world’s richest for banking and financial services.

Mike Corbat announced on Thursday his plan to retire next year, and had a stab at marking his own homework, pointing out that from 2012 to 2019 Citi’s net income increased from $7 billion to nearly $20 billion, while its return on tangible common equity increased from 5% to over 12%.

However, he acknowledged: “There is always more to do, and I believe the time is right for my successor to lead Citi through this next stage of progress.”

Closing the gap

The toughest thing on that more-to-do list will be closing the gap to the country’s two leading banks, which as well as larger balance sheets boast higher profits and returns.

This gap is most obvious in the stock market.