Magazine article American Banker

Citi Aims to Show Kinder, Gentler Side with Its Blog

Magazine article American Banker

Citi Aims to Show Kinder, Gentler Side with Its Blog

Article excerpt

Byline: John Adams

A quick online search of "Citi" and "blog" will call up hundreds of blogs about the banking giant, most of which are entirely beyond Citigroup Inc.'s control and many with decidedly critical posts.

The company is now adding its voice to the fray with an internallyproduced blog that can provide details about specific financial products, offer comments from executives on earnings reports, explain Citi's position on regulatory issues and post responses from readers about all of the above.

"There's an image out there of the 'big bad bank.' The blog is like going back to [George H.W.] Bush, 'kinder and gentler,' " said Ron Shevlin, a senior analyst at Aite Group LLC. "The blog is a way for the bank to show consumers that it is there to help them."

Recent posts on the Citi blog, which is accessible from the home page, included a piece explaining how it is aiding distressed homeowners by participating in government rescue programs. The responses included some complaints asking the bank to help those who are current with payments on "underwater" mortgages.

Citi has also posted items on the role of women in the financial recovery; its activity in the Treasury Department's second-lien modification program - including a response to a frustrated customer who wrote that he's been waiting for a decision on a modification since July 2009 (Citi wrote there's a three-month trial modification, and the time for a decision may vary); and how "opt in" overdraft regulations donot "go far enough" to protect consumers (Citi says consumers should be given an option at the point of sale).

The posts are mostly bylined "Citi," though an early post from chief executive Vikram Pandit described the site as a "new way for us to share ideas and create dialogue." The posts do not counter or directly address other blogs about Citi. …

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