Citigroup CFO breaks down the bank’s approach to technology projects

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  • Citigroup, one of Wall Street’s biggest banks, prioritizes technology in consumer banking.
  • CFO Mark Mason told Insider how Citi is using data to inform new technology opportunities.
  • This article is part of “The CFO Project: Future of Finance” series which details the priorities of some of today’s most influential financial leaders.

As Chief Financial Officer of Citigroup, Mark Mason oversees the finances of a bank that collectively holds some $ 2.4 trillion in assets and $ 354 billion in retail deposits.

Mason also has a distinct vision of Citi’s annual budget, which in 2020 included $ 43 billion in operating expenses in areas such as compensation, advertising and marketing, and technology.

Almost 20% of this expenditure budget, or about $ 7.4 billion, is now devoted to technology spending; in 2010, this figure was 10%. The increase reflects the nation’s trend


the biggest banks

spend more time, effort and money upgrading both


retail banking

tech and front-end tools used by retail clients, market makers and portfolio managers.

“In many ways, there are so many benefits that flow from the investments we make in technology, and technology is changing and evolving so rapidly,” Mason told Insider in an interview in November. “While margins are tight for very profitable and very profitable businesses, technology in many cases gives you the opportunity to lower your unit cost. “

When Insider spoke to Mason, his team, like others within the bank, were reviewing their annual budget. This process includes meetings with the CEO of Citi, Jane fraser. This year, Mason said, he and Fraser discussed how Citi’s chief data officer for finance interacts with the company’s other data managers, including those in Citi’s institutional and consumer operations.

“It’s all coming together to ensure that the end-to-end view is how we examine data as it moves through the organization,” Mason said.

“If you think of data from a financial operation or any institution, as a CFO, what you want to make sure is that the quality of the information you produce is as accurate and timely as possible,” said he added. .

For Citi, Mason said, these data questions are about businesses and teams. Timely and accurate information about risk-weighted assets and the use of bank capital, for example, can help inform “how much I want to allocate to a new product or customer opportunity”.

Data on Citi retail customers – for example, the bank has more than 130 million credit card customers through branded and co-branded offers – is also important.

“These data tell a lot about the nature of this consumer, his behaviors, what he likes, what he dislikes, the types of rewards or incentives to which he is likely to be more responsive than ‘others,’ Mason said.

Technology investments – especially early-stage partnerships with new fintechs – can take a long time to pay off. From a finance and planning standpoint, it is therefore difficult to know how to approach their value. Mason said this was a major focus when bringing new technology internally to Citi.

“One of the things I have to do is think about what it takes to put new technology in place: how to measure efficiency over time, and then how do I actually get that productivity to another end ? »Said Mason.


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