Citi will also take a $400 million charge in the fourth quarter to cover the severance and other costs related to the downsizing effort, which will reduce the bank’s work force by about 2 percent, to 262,500 employees. Citi now has roughly 100,000 fewer employees than it did at the end of 2007, before the worst of the financial crisis.
Most of the job losses will come from Citi’s back-office and investment banking operations. Its Wall Street-related business has been hard hit by a slowdown in trading volume amid the turmoil in Europe. But nearly every part of Citi’s sprawling businesses will face cuts.
Citigroup is the latest big bank to announce extensive layoffs, following similar actions by many of its rivals that have coursed through the industry since last fall. While Citi quietly began pruning its work force this summer, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Bank of New York Mellon — and almost every large European bank — have announced big job cuts.
Wall Street companies have come under intense pressure as the world economy has slowed in recent months, and their once-lucrative trading businesses have sputtered as investors have parked their cash on the sidelines. More traditional banking has also been hit hard by anemic demand for loans, as well as new regulations and consumer outcry against fees on checking accounts, debit cards and credit cards.
Speaking at the Goldman Sachs financial services conference on Tuesday, Mr. Pandit framed the layoffs as part of his plan to brace the company for an even more difficult road ahead.
“Financial services faces an extremely challenging operating environment,” he said. “These trends will likely significantly affect the competitive landscape in the coming years.”
Ever since taking over the bank almost four years ago, Mr. Pandit has been making steady progress on a plan to transform Citi from a global banking behemoth into a more nimble, corporate lender. He has shed hundreds of billions of dollars in assets to lighten its balance sheet, strengthened the bank’s risk controls and repaid the $45 billion bailout the bank received to prevent its collapse in the fall of 2008.
For his efforts, Mr. Pandit accepted a $1-a-year salary — although Citigroup’s board handed him a retention package worth at least $23.2 million earlier this year.
But as the market turmoil in Europe has rippled around the world, Mr. Pandit’s recovery strategy has lost some steam. While Citigroup has cranked out seven consecutive quarters of profits after it set aside less money to cover bad loans, the bank has struggled to increase its income. Revenue fell 10 percent to about $60 billion in the first nine months of this year, compared with the period a year ago.
In his remarks on Tuesday, Mr. Pandit said Citi’s investment banking and trading performance in the current quarter had thus far been in line with its third-quarter results. Those numbers were solid, but nowhere near the blockbuster performance its traders had turned in earlier in the year.
And he warned that the bank was unlikely to see a repeat of the $2.6 billion paper gain it realized in the third quarter, when it benefited from accounting quirks tied to the valuation of its own debt. Based on Monday’s credit spreads, Mr. Pandit said, Citi is on track to take a $600 million paper loss in the fourth quarter.