Citizens Financial Group CEO Bruce van Saun on why banks aren’t slowing down despite loss predictions


Providence, Rhode Island-based Citizens Financial Group recently bought Investors Bank and HSBC’s New York branches for about $4 billion. It is now the 12th-largest bank in the nation with $225 billion in assets. Citizens’ leader, CEO Bruce Van Saun, is planning to bring to New York the personal touch that made his company successful in New England and Pennsylvania. As the market anticipates big financial losses for banks, he explains how to play defense.

Welcome to New York. Your name is on the ballpark of the Philadelphia Phillies, and I wonder if that’s good branding here.

The World Series was good for our brand, and I will add we’re now the official bank of the New York Giants, who are good after several tough years. And we’re the official bank of the New Jersey Devils, who are off to a flying start. I don’t know if we have the magic touch or not, but those are facts.

The Fed wants to slow the economy, but banks aren’t showing signs of a slowdown. What’s going on?

The environment is still pretty good. Our consumer customers all saved a lot of money during the pandemic, their balances are still high, and they all have jobs because unemployment is so low.

How about businesses?

During the pandemic, companies did a lot of good things. They leaned into expenses, got more digital, locked in low-cost financing, extended debt maturities. Many of our clients are having record years. They grumble about supply chains and labor shortages, saying things would be even better without those issues. There is no migration to bad credit on the corporate side.

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