Larsen leaves Citi in surprise move

Jonathan LarsonOne of the stalwarts of Citi’s drive to reinvent itself to become digital is leaving the bank. Jonathan Larsen, the bank’s global head of retail banking and mortgages, resigned at the end of last week.

The first Citi executive to run a global consumer bank function from Asia, Larsen, sources say, left for personal reasons to spend more time with his family based in Hong Kong. It is believed one of the factors has been the constant travel especially to New York.

Meantime, Will Howie (head of US retail bank), CD Davies (head of global mortgages), Ray Romano (chief risk officer, US commercial and retail) Surath Chatterjee (wealth management), Cindy Silverman (sales and distribution) and Angus Vassie will report directly to Stephen Bird, CEO of Citi’s global consumer banking. Anand Selva, head of consumer banking, will continue to head the region working with Sergio Zanatti, head of credit cards and loans and Gonzalo Luchetti, head of retail banking.

Larsen, who took on the additional role of head of US consumer banking and mortgages in June 2015, has been global head of retail banking since 2013. He has been behind the transformation of Citi’s branches globally working with Eight Inc, the company behind the Apple stores.

According to an internal memo seen by The Asset, Bird says Larsen, who he worked closely when he was CEO of Asia-Pacific, played a pivotal role transforming the bank’s consumer banking franchise for nearly two decades. “He also refined Smart Banking into a distinctive experience and competitive differentiator in iconic locations from Mongkok to Fifth Avenue.”

Larsen was very much ahead of the times. He was a firm advocate of the mass adoption of the smartphone. Starting with his appointment as the country business manager and CEO for Citibank Singapore in 2005, he was instrumental in transforming Citibank’s presence from five customer touchpoints to over 800 and repositioning Citibank as a mainstream retail bank in Singapore.

As the county head and Citi country officer for Singapore in 2008, when he had oversight of the institutional clients group, consumer banking and global wealth management, he pushed the digital agenda and changed the whole concept of the branch. Following his appointment as head of consumer banking Asia-Pacific, he started to convert branches, located in convenient locations, to become more like high-tech wealth management centres.

Global retail banking and mortgages generated US$12 billion in revenues at the end of 2015. Asia’s revenue account for a quarter of the global total and half of the total revenue in the Asia-Pacific.

Larsen’s business spans 19 countries  including 12 in Asia  serving 25 million clients through some 2,700 branches and a wide range of digital and partner channels. It accounts for about US$400 billion in client assets in the form of deposits and investment assets under management. Citi’s consumer bank in Asia serves 16 million clients and is the largest pan-regional credit card issuer and the largest retail wealth management provider in the region.

In addition to his global role, Larsen was also a member of Citi’s global consumer management committee and served on the asset and liability committee. He joined Citi in 1998.