Registered Rep.: What do you say to those who claim your growth strategy is like that of former CEO Chuck Prince?
Vikram Pandit: When I came onboard, we reviewed, in extreme detail, the various business lines of Citi, and I came away convinced that the universal banking model is the ideal one to capitalize on global growth trends. We have made some changes in how Citi executes against the universal banking model. Most notably, we empowered the regional leadership teams to make decisions that enable them to capitalize on local opportunities. Additionally, we've committed to exiting non-core businesses, and set clear goals to ensure the universal banking model works to benefit clients and shareholders.
RR: What role will the wealth management business play in the company over the next 12 months?
VP: Wealth management is a core business for us. In fact, we have the second largest wealth management franchise in the world. We have terrific people all over the world who understand that it all comes down to serving our clients.
For wealth management clients, Citi's universal banking model is particularly compelling. The universal bank concept is about taking our capabilities and making them available to each and every client to his/her benefit. We want to make sure we are bringing clients all the benefits of Citi — our global footprint, our incredible network, our ability to tap our vast information resources for our clients, our capital — that's real value. A Citi client has access to the entire Citi network, which is a substantial.
RR: How will the industry deal with increased regulation of risk management, and the potential squeeze on margins that could result?
VP: The credit crisis has inspired a vigorous global debate on regulatory reform, and that's good.
In my view, three principles in particular — transparency, a level playing field and systemic oversight — are the essential elements we need to consider. The goal of the debate should be to advance global coordination among central banks, regulators and financial institutions.
We welcome a more robust regulatory architecture that embraces standards broad and clear enough to apply to all participants, but flexible enough to adapt to unforeseeable changes in a dynamic market. At Citi, we've taken the steps to enhance and strengthen our risk management, including expanding the risk management team. Over the past six months we've hired 10 new senior managers with extensive risk management experience.