How do you unlock the value of a more nimble, fast-growing division from an older, foreign-owned bank? That was the challenge facing Bruce Van Saun, then CFO at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). He had joined the storied firm in 2009, after their £500 billion bailout of loans and guarantees from the U.K. government.
Within RBS, the Citizens group in the U.S. was growing quickly by appealing to commercial clients and middle market companies. But the skills and personnel needed to make what was effectively start up achieve success are very different from the assets needed to succeed as a megabank.
In an unusual step, Van Saun decided to IPO the Citizen’s division. These types of transactions typically involve a sale or a (majority-owned) spinoff. But Van Saun wanted to shakeup the culture at the new firm, and an IPO would allow him to recruit more entrepreneurial sorts of bankers that might not be attracted to a sleepy, foreign-owned recently bailed out bank.
Citizens Financial Group (CFG) listed its initial public offering in 2014; today, the Providence, Rhode Island has $164.4 billion in assets, 2,900 ATMs and 1,100 branches in 11 states. The bank has grown into the 13th largest bank in America. Van Saun is its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He was named American Banker’s 2019 “Banker of the Year,” sits on the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Board.
The bank (among other things) finances most iPhone purchases or monthly leases.
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Next week, we speak with Brian Kelly, better known as “The Points Guy.” Kelly took an interest in credit card and airline points, and turned it into a substantial media business, with 60 employees and 7 million unique visitors a month.