Citi Said to Shrink U.S. Retail Operations

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A heads-up for those who work in or draw business from Citigroup's U.S. retail branch network: your unit might be sold off.

The bank's long-running overhaul is reportedly turning toward radically paring its U.S. retail banking business, The Wall Street Journal reports Thursday.

The story says Citi senior management is finalizing plans to pull out of several metropolitan areas including Boston, Philadelphia and parts of Texas. Remaining retail operations would be concentrated in New York, Washington, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Details are expected to be presented to the company's board next month.

Citi also reportedly will cut back on U.S. consumer lending, confining itself to credit cards and jumbo mortgages. Plans call for targeting the most affluent customers and beefing up the bank's online presence. Citi's U.S. mortgage lending and consumer finance units are already up for sale.

Despite a lengthy history as a nationwide retail bank, Citi already trails its major rivals in both coverage and reputation among branch-level customers. Its network of 1,001 U.S. branches is a fraction of those of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, which boast more than 5,000 each. The WSJ also cites a J.D. Power & Associates customer satisfaction survey earlier this year that ranked Citi "at or near the bottom in every U.S. region where it has branches."

The company has traditional held a stronger position among corporate clients and markets outside the U.S.

Another reported change: placing financial advisors in branches who aren't affiliated with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, the joint venture created in January that includes the Smith Barney wealth management business spun off from Citi.

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