Citi Bank

overall rating:

1.6

planets

Finnie Zhao
7/12/2022
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Since Citibank was slammed with a $57 million fine for inaccurate financial reporting, they have made robust efforts to incorporate ESG strategies with commitments to reach firm-wide net-zero by 2050, make a $1 billion investment in sustainable finance by 2030, and drive systematic change in the banking sector through its self-developed frameworks and principles. Although Citi has been recorded with environmental controversies, I hold optimistic attitudes toward its future ESG performance and cannot wait to see the positive change happening in the future owing to its current commitments. To sum up, I give the bank a rating of 1.6 planets out of 3.

What it's made of:

1.8

Citibank was founded in 1812 in New York and now has over 4,000 branches in 42 countries. As an iconic brand with over 200 years of history, Citi owns an unparalleled global network with businesses in 95 countries. Citibank’s major businesses include credit cards, banking, lending, investing, and wealth management. As stated on its website, Citi, the world’s most global bank, has played an essential role in financing the transition to a low-carbon economy. The bank has leveraged its position and announced in 2021 a new commitment of 1 trillion in sustainable finance by 2030. The investment will include $500 billion for environmental finance and $500 billion for social finance. Citi has co-founded multiple principles and frameworks to ensure reliable and standardized benchmarking resources for the industry. In 2003, Citi co-founded the Equator Principles (EPs), which is the leading framework for managing environmental and social risk in financing major projects, credit policies, and environmental reporting. Citi also co-founded the Green Bond Principles, which provide issuers with guidelines encouraging transparency in the sustainable bond market and the emerging climate transition bond market. In 2019, Citi collaborated with other banks to develop the Poseidon Principles, a framework for lenders, lessors, and financial guarantors to integrate climate considerations into lending decisions with international shipping clients to help the sector decarbonize in line with the goals of the International Maritime Organization. Besides, Citi also runs a $200 million Impact Fund, which invests in U.S.-based private sector companies that are applying innovative solutions to help address some of society’s most pressing challenges. Companies invested in the fund encompass sectors including online marketplace platforms, renewable energies, healthcare, affordable housing, etc. Overall, I think Citibank does an excellent job in managing its businesses sustainably and investing in innovative entrepreneurs.

How it's made:

1.2

Incidents of environmental controversy have cast doubt on Citi’s authenticity in ESG pursuits. In 2019, Citigroup was fined $57 million by the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority for inaccurate regulatory reporting about the bank’s capital and liquidity levels from June 2014 to December 2018. After that, Citi actively adjusted its structure and business strategies and invested in sustainable finance products. Overall, Citibank has now made determined efforts on the company’s overall ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) performance, as reflected in the company’s website and its sustainability reports. 

In the Environment aspect, Citi plays a leading role in driving the transition to net-zero. It has announced its plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, including 2030 targets for Energy and Power loan portfolios. Citi also co-founded the Net Zero Banking Alliance to establish an industry framework to decarbonize the banking sector.

In the Social aspect, Citibank proclaims to narrow the racial wealth gap and increase economic mobility. It has invested $1 billion in strategic initiatives as part of Citi and the Citi Foundation’s Action for Racial Equity commitment in year one of a three-year commitment. It has also launched the Diverse Financial Institutions Group to improve firm-wide engagements with minority depository institutions and diverse asset managers. Furthermore, Citi supports increasing affordable housing in the U.S. by providing $5.6 billion in loans for affordable housing projects in 2021 and thus became the largest U.S. affordable housing development lender. Besides, Citi has also issued a $1 billion social finance bond to expand access to essential services. It aims to invest in opportunities for 15 million low-income households and 10 million women globally by 2025. Citi has made solid commitments to leveraging its market power to create positive social impacts for society.

In the Governance aspect, Citibank holds high standards for its corporate governance as it stated to serve employee, client, and community needs; promote a culture of accountability and ethical conduct, and commit to addressing global challenges through its core business. To ensure responsible business practice, the company has set up standing committees in audit; ethics, conduct, and culture; executive; nomination, governance, and public affairs; personnel and compensation; and risk management.

Who makes it:

1.8

Citi did a great job in disclosing its sustainability efforts, in particular its commitments to climate change solutions and net-zero emission. Since 2019, Citi has publicly reported its ESG performance on its website annually by publishing Global Environment, Social, Governance Report in accordance with GRI standards and the Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures Report in accordance with the TCFD framework. In its 2021 Sustainability Report, Citi declared that they have ESG specialists in Banking, Capital Markets and Advisory; Global Markets; Treasury and Trade Solutions; and Citi Global Wealth. In its latest 2021 TCFD report, Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser stated that Citi is committed to supporting a transition to a sustainable net-zero economy by balancing both environmental and social needs. The executive board put emphasis on the significance of ESG and encouraged impact investing as one of the bank’s major businesses, as reflected in its annual reports and sustainability reports. These years, Citibank has put great emphasis on constructing a team of environmental specialists that help the bank in sustainable planning. Since 2020, Citi has formed a new Global ESG Council that is composed of senior members of management and a Climate Risk team to conduct credit risk analysis, scenario analysis, stress testing, and regulatory engagement. Citi has also established a Natural Resources & Clean Energy Transition team to drive client engagement efforts in the energy, power, and chemicals sectors. Together, these efforts will lead the company towards its 2050 net-zero target and its $1 trillion sustainable finance commitment.

Sources:

https://www.citigroup.com/citi/about/esg/

https://www.citigroup.com/citi/sustainability/

https://www.privatebank.citibank.com/we-offer/sustainable-investing

https://www.citigroup.com/citi/about/esg/download/2021/Global-ESG-Report-2021.pdf

https://www.citigroup.com/citi/sustainability/data/taskforce-on-climate-related-financial-disclosures-report-2021.pdf