Citizens Financial Group

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Citizens Financial Group, Inc.
HeadquartersProvidence, Rhode Island, U.S.
Key peopleBruce Van Saun, CEO
ProductsFinancial Services
ParentThe Royal Bank of Scotland Group
Jump to: navigation, search
Citizens Financial Group, Inc.
HeadquartersProvidence, Rhode Island, U.S.
Key peopleBruce Van Saun, CEO
ProductsFinancial Services
ParentThe Royal Bank of Scotland Group
Several banks are commonly known as Citizens Bank.

Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is a British-owned American bank headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, which operates in the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. Citizens is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS), whose headquarters are in Edinburgh, Scotland. Following the financial rescue of RBS, the company's controlling shareholder is currently the British government. As of 2011, Citizens was the 15th-largest bank in the United States.[1]


Early history[edit]

Citizens was first established in 1828 as the High Street Bank in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1871, the Rhode Island legislature gave a second charter to establish the Citizens Savings Bank which eventually acquired its parent group to form Citizens Trust Company. The bank then expanded through Rhode Island, opening a total of 29 branches in that state. Citizens Financial Group was established as a holding company when the bank acquired The Greenville Trust Company in 1954.

In 1985, Citizens changed status from a mutual savings bank to a federal stock savings bank. Expansion into other states began with Massachusetts in 1986.

RBS ownership[edit]

Citizens' branch footprint
Citizens Bank headquarters in downtown Providence, constructed 1991.

In 1988, Citizens accepted a takeover bid from the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), based in Scotland, which used Citizens Bank as a stepping stone into the American market. In the following sixteen years under RBS ownership, Citizens acquired several smaller banks in the New England area to become the second largest bank in the region. In 1996, the acquisition of First NH Bank saw the Bank of Ireland gain a 23.5% stake in Citizens, which was repurchased two years later by RBS.

Expansion outside New England began in 2001, when RBS purchased the retail banking division of Mellon Financial Corporation in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. In one stroke, this made Citizens Bank the second-largest bank in Pennsylvania, and a major player in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Three years later, RBS bought Cleveland-based Charter One Bank for $10.5 billion (see below), which made Citizens Financial the ninth-largest bank in the United States with over $128 billion in assets and 1,400 branches across 13 states, making Citizens Financial Group contribute 25% to the profits of RBS.

In July 2003, the bank purchased the naming rights to the new home field of the Philadelphia Phillies, calling it Citizens Bank Park.

On January 17, 2003, Citizens Financial Group, Inc. purchased Commonwealth Bancorp, Inc.,[2] the holding company for Commonwealth Bank, based in Norristown, Pennsylvania.[3]

In 2004, RBS purchased the credit card division of Connecticut-based People's Bank. This purchase allows Citizens to issue and market its own credit cards. In late 2004, Citizens Financial acquired Cleveland-based Charter One Bank for US$10.5 billion, with branches in Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, upstate New York, and Vermont.

On September 1, 2007, the individual banks under Citizens Financial Group, excluding Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania, were merged into RBS Citizens, N.A.[citation needed]

Financial crisis[edit]

On April 18, 2008, RBS revealed that it would post almost $8 billion in losses related to subprime mortgage securities. Less than a month earlier its CEO, Fred Goodwin, denied rumors that losses were possible.[4]

In May 2008, Citizens Financial Group, an RBS subsidiary, failed to publicly announce that it was under investigation by the SEC for its involvement in the sub-prime mortgage crisis that has devastated the U.S. housing market and bond investors around the world.[5] Only banks involved in the purchase and sale of subprime securities were under investigation.[6]

On January 27, 2010, Citizens Bank was sued for $8 billion,[7] under a claim that the bank used sham accusations of default to recall loans in an effort to prop up its failing parent companies, Citizens Financial Group and "its ultimate parent, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group."

Potential sale[edit]

Following the effective nationalization of RBS in 2008, speculation arose as to whether RBS would retain Citizens Bank. In 2012, public pressure in the United Kingdom grew for RBS to focus on its home market and sell off foreign assets, including Citizens Bank, in order for UK taxpayers to earn their money back. Substantial interest in Citizens Bank has been rumored from other foreign banks such as Brazil-based Itaú Unibanco and Canada-based Toronto-Dominion Bank, the latter of which already has an existing U.S. branch network which overlaps with the existing Citizen footprint east of the Appalachian Mountains.[8] The Bank of Montreal, which also has an existing U.S. presence, has also been mentioned as a possible buyer.[9] Among domestic-based banks that have been mentioned as potential Citizens buyers include JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp, PNC Financial Services, and Fifth Third Bank.[9][10] Citizens has some overlap with all of the domestic banks, with branch divestment all but certain if PNC were to acquire Citizens due to significant overlap in Pennsylvania and Ohio between the two banks as well as the precedent of PNC having to do a federally mandated 2009 divestment of 61 National City branches in Western Pennsylvania due to antitrust concerns following PNC's acquisition of National City in late 2008.[9]

On February 28, 2013, RBS confirmed at least a partial spinoff of Citizens through an initial public offering within the next two years. RBS is expected to retain at least majority control of Citizens in the short term.[11] On October 4, 2013, RBS announced it was selling off its Chicago-area branches, which represent 6% of its U.S. deposits;[12] Citizens later agreed to sell those branches to U.S. Bancorp on January 7, 2014.[13] On 1 November 2013, RBS announced that it would accelerate its spin-off of all of Citizens Financial Group in the US.[14]


Like several other banks, Citizens has branches inside supermarkets, the most notable of which is with Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle, most of which were acquired in the acquisition of Mellon Financial Corporation's retail banking division, although Giant Eagle is starting to replace some of these branches with Huntington Bank branches. There are also branches inside many Stop & Shop and Shaw's stores in New England. One unique aspect at Citizens branches inside supermarkets is full-service banking on Sunday, when banks are traditionally closed (including standalone Citizens branches), usually from 10 am to 3 pm. This made Citizens one of the first banks in North America to operate on Sundays.

In October 2009 Citizens Bank opened a full-service branch inside a Dunkin' Donuts in Bellingham, Massachusetts.[15] The branch offers teller windows, a full-service automated teller machine and Dunkin' Donuts promotions for using the bank's services.[15]

In addition, RBS purchased Lynk systems of Atlanta, Georgia to processes non-cash transactions (such as credit, debit, EBT, loyalty, gift, and check transactions) from merchant point-of-sale terminals, web sites, and ATMs. The company had been rebranded as RBS Lynk, and later as RBS WorldPay before it was sold on November 30, 2010, as part of RBS's disposition of its Global Merchant Services business.[16]

Citizens was one of the first banks in America to use RFID technology on its ATM cards, via MasterCard PayPass. In late 2009, however, Citizens began reissuing its cards under Visa without the RFID technology.

On June 25, 2008, Citizens Bank announced it was selling 18 of its branches in upstate New York as it prepared to open 57 branches downstate. The branches were sold to Community Bank System Inc. of DeWitt, New York. The branches sold were in Ausable Forks, Champlain, Fort Covington, Indian Lake, Lake Placid, Lyons Falls, Long Lake, Malone, Newcomb, North Creek, Plattsburgh, Saranac Lake, Ticonderoga, Tupper Lake and Whitehall. The sale was completed on November 7, 2008.

Charter One Financial[edit]

Charter One Bank branch, downtown Ypsilanti, MI

In late 2004, Citizens Financial acquired Cleveland-based Charter One Financial, parent company of Charter One Bank, with branches in Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, upstate New York, and Vermont. Because Citizens Republic Bancorp of Flint, Michigan already operated under the Citizens Bank name in most of Charter One's territory, Citizens Financial elected to keep the Charter One name in Charter One's old Midwestern footprint. The New York and Vermont branches, however, were rebranded as Citizens Bank.

Despite the use of the different names, the two banks are otherwise the same. Charter One has been fully integrated into Citizens, and has adopted an identical logo. The websites for both banks are also identical, with the only difference being the name. Citizens customers can bank at Charter One locations and vice-versa.

In early 2005, seven Citizens Bank branches in Butler County, Pennsylvania, started to rebrand with the Charter One name. This rebranding resolved a 3½-year-old name dispute with Butler-based Citizens National Bank. By mid-2005, Citizens National and Citizens Financial agreed to a compromise. Citizens National Bank changed its name to NexTier Bank, while the Citizens Financial Group branches reverted to the "Citizens Bank" name. The name change became moot less than five years later when in 2010 Warren, Pennsylvania-based Northwest Bancshares (which Citizens competes directly with in Pittsburgh and Buffalo) agreed to buy NexTier for $20.3 million in cash.[17]

In February 2007 the Charter One franchise acquired GreatBank, GreatBank Chicago, and First National Bank — all brands of GreatBanc Inc. of Chicago, Illinois. With this acquisition came GreatBanc's 10 banking locations and 14 ATMs throughout Cook, McHenry and Will counties. This transaction expands Charter One’s presence in Chicago, Skokie and Evanston and provides entry into the towns of Olympia Fields, Chicago Heights, Frankfort, Cary and Algonquin.

In 2009 Charter One's Indiana bank branches became Old National Bank after Old National Bank bought Charter One's Indiana operations.[18]

Current size and scope[edit]

Today, Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is a $130 billion commercial bank holding company. Through its subsidiaries, it has more than 1,500 branches, approximately 3,800 ATMs and approximately 21,400 employees. Its two bank subsidiaries are RBS Citizens, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. They operate a 12-state branch network under the Citizens Bank brand in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, and the Charter One brand in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Grocer, Stephen (2011-03-24). "Ranking the 50 Biggest U.S. Banks: From BofA to Commerce Bancshares". Dow Jones & Company. Retrieved 2011-06-06. 
  2. ^ Commonwealth Bancorp info
  3. ^ Department of Banking. "DOB: Bank Mergers/Acquisitions in Connecticut". Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  4. ^ Larsen, Peter; Croft, Jane; Burgess, Kate, "Royal Bank of Scotland poised to reveal £4bn loss, May Auction Direct Line and Churchill to raise cash", Financial Times, April 18, 2008 (archived 2008)
  5. ^ Smith, Mark (2008-05-12). "Royal Bank under investigation over US sub-prime loans". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  6. ^ Winnett, Robert (March 20, 2009). "RBS traders hid toxic debt Billions of pounds of "toxic" sub-prime mortgages were bought by Royal Bank of Scotland traders in a spree that was not disclosed to the bank's board.". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Courthouse News Service". 2010-01-27. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b c "Citizens Bank sale would impact Pittsburgh". 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Tascarella, Patty (February 28, 2013), "RBS confirms partial Citizens IPO", Pittsburgh Business Times, retrieved March 19, 2013 
  12. ^ Sabatini, Patricia (October 13, 2013). "30 Years: PNC eats up market share, boosts Downtown building - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  13. ^ Bray, Chad (January 7, 2014). "Citizens Financial to Sell Chicago-Area Branches to U.S. Bancorp". The New York Times. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b Abelson, Jenn (October 21, 2009). "Pastries and finance: a match made in Bellingham". 
  16. ^ "RBS agrees to sell 80.01% interest in Global Merchant Services to a consortium of Advent International and Bain Capital". Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  17. ^ "Northwest Bancshares to acquire NexTier". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. May 5, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Old National Bancorp Buys Charter One’s Retail Bank Branches in Indiana", Wednesday, November 26, 2008
  19. ^ "About Us". Citizens Bank. Retrieved 2011-10-15.