Citigroup has named Marty Lippert as its new CIO in the latest installment of the struggling finance giant's attempts to revamp operations and achieve a massive rebound in its fortunes.
Lippert, a veteran of IT and business management roles at the Royal Bank of Canada (RMC) and Mellon Bank, will have the additional role of corporate operations and technology COO at Citi, underlining the group's attempts to consolidate IT spending and the operations budget.
Citi CEO Vikram Pandit said the firm's "competitiveness is dependent on having leading technology and operational capabilities" and added that Lippert's appointment would help "orchestrate what we believe will be one of the great turnarounds in US corporate history".
Attempting to marrying IT and ops won't be a new trick for Lippert as he was charged with a similar task at RBC. Pandit's remit for "client-centric" solutions also chimes with what Lippert described as a "client-first initiative" at RBC, accentuating the needs of customers over functional domains. "The customer does not look at the service that the insurance area is providing or the service the bank is providing - they see the value of the service that RBC provides," Lippert told The Banker magazine in 2005.
The appointment comes two months after Citibank it was seeking to extract US$1.5bn in annual IT costs as part of a broader restructuring intended to suck out $7.5bn in operating expense. The savings in IT would come in part from consolidating assets across operating lines and units, many of them picked up through a long history of acquisitions and divisions. Another bid to extract value from IT investments would come from keeping a tighter rein on application development, the firm suggested.
However, given the dependence of IT in the banking and finance sector, Citigroup is unlikely to lock down technology spending. In May, the firm even took the unusual step of appointing a "chief innovation officer", selecting former CTO, COO and merger strategy chief Deborah Hopkins for the job. The role would involve tying together "strategy, information technology and research and development to drive cross-business, client-focused innovation across the company", Citigroup said in a statement.