- Several banks are commonly known as Citizens Bank.
Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is an American bank headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, which operates in the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Between 1988 and its 2014 initial public offering, Citizens was a wholly owned subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group. RBS sold its last 20.9% stake in the company in October 2015.
Citizens operates more than 1,200 branches and approximately 3,200 ATMs across 11 states under the Citizens Bank brand.
Citizens ranks 24th on the List of largest banks in the United States.
Citizens was 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. It established Citizens Financial Group 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.
In 1988, Royal Bank of Scotland Group acquired Citizens. Under RBS ownership, Citizens acquired several smaller banks in New England to become the second largest bank in the region. In 1996, in conjunction with the acquisition of First NH Bank, the Bank of Ireland gained a 23.5% stake in Citizens, which RBS then acquired two years later to resume 100% ownership.
In 1999, Citizens acquired the United States Trust Company of Boston and the retail banking business of State Street Corporation, significantly increasing its footprint in Massachusetts.
Expansion outside New England began in 2001, when RBS purchased the retail banking division of Mellon Financial Corporation in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware for $2 billion. At one stroke, Citizens Bank became the second-largest bank in Pennsylvania, and a major bank in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
In July 2003, the bank purchased the naming rights to the new home field of the Philadelphia Phillies, which was named Citizens Bank Park.
On January 17, 2003, Citizens Financial Group purchased Commonwealth Bancorp, the holding company for Commonwealth Bank, based in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
In 2004, RBS purchased the credit card division of Connecticut-based People’s Bank. This purchase allowed Citizens to issue and market its own credit cards.
Charter One Financial
In August 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 for $10.5 billion. 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 Midwestern footprint. However, it re-branded the New York and Vermont branches as Citizens Bank. This purchase made Citizens Financial the 12th largest bank in the United States with over $131 billion in assets and 1,530 branches across 13 states.
In early 2005, the Charter One name replaced the Citizens Bank banner on seven branches in Butler County, Pennsylvania. 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.
A new corporate logo designed to show Citizens Bank’s connection to the Royal Bank of Scotland debuted on April 26, 2005.
In July 2006, Citizens Bank eliminated the mortgage department in Michigan and terminated over 100 employees.
On September 1, 2007, the individual banks under Citizens Financial Group, excluding Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania, merged into RBS Citizens, N.A.
In November 2008, Charter One sold its network of 65 branches in Indiana to Old National Bank which rebranded them under the Old National Bank banner. The transaction closed in June 2010.
In 2014, Citizens sold 94 branches in metropolitan Chicago to U.S. Bancorp.
Citizens Republic Bancorp was founded in Flint, Michigan in 1871 and merged with Republic Bank in 2006. In 2007, Citizens Republic prevailed in a case to prevent Citizens Financial from using the similar name in Michigan and Ohio.FirstMerit Bank acquired Citizens Republic in 2013 and rebranded all branches as FirstMerit until 2016 when Huntington Bancshares acquired FirstMerit. With conflicting names no longer an issue, Citizens Bank announced June 30, 2014, that Charter One branches in Michigan and Ohio would be rebranded as Citizens Bank. The name change officially took place on April 27, 2015, bringing to an end the name Charter One in Cleveland; the city in which it was founded.
In May 2008, Citizens Financial Group failed to publicly announce that it was under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for its involvement in the sub-prime mortgage crisis that devastated the U.S. housing market and bond investors around the world. The SEC only investigated banks if suspected of involvement in the purchase and sale of subprime securities.
In 2008, the company lost $929 million and anticipated writing off $2 billion in bad loans. Royal Bank of Scotland posted the biggest loss in British corporate history and announced cost-cutting measures at Citizens.
A Philadelphia developer sued Citizens Bank January 27, 2010, for $8 billion, 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.”
The Road to IPO
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 foreign assets, including Citizens Bank, in order for UK taxpayers to earn their money back. Substantial interest in Citizens Bank had been rumored from other foreign banks such as Brazil-based Itaú Unibanco and Canada-based Toronto-Dominion Bank, the latter of which already had an existing U.S. branch network that overlapped with the existing Citizen footprint east of the Appalachian Mountains. The Bank of Montreal, with its existing U.S. presence, was also mentioned as a possible buyer. U.S. banks mentioned as potential Citizens buyers included JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp, PNC Financial Services, and Fifth Third Bank.
In February 2013, RBS confirmed at least a partial spinoff of Citizens through an initial public offering within the next two years. Then in October 2013, RBS announced it would sell its Chicago-area branches, which represented 6% of its U.S. deposits; Citizens later agreed to sell those branches to U.S. Bancorp on January 7, 2014. Finally in November 2013, RBS announced that it would divest all of Citizens Financial Group.
The bank began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol CFG on September 24, 2014, raising $3 billion. By April 2015, RBS Group’s shareholding in the bank had dropped to 45.6%. A further sale in July 2015 reduced RBS’ stake to 23.4%. RBS sold its remaining stake in the bank in October 2015. However, Citizens still uses the RBS “daisy wheel” logo.
In June 2016, it was announced that Citizens Financial Group had joined the Fortune 500 for the first time.
Misappropriation of depositor funds
In August 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and other federal regulators levied nearly $35 million in penalties against Citizens Bank “for failing to credit to customers’ accounts the full amount of their deposits”. The regulators declared that, from 2008 to 2013, “The bank’s actions resulted in consumers being shorted millions of dollars”. Joint action by the CFPB, the FDIC, and the Comptroller of the Currency determined that Citizens Bank had engaged in “deceptive practices” by “fail[ing] to give customers their full deposits at times when the size of the deposit didn’t match the number written on deposit slips”, despite promising to correct such discrepancies, instead pocketing the difference. The bank was required to reimburse its customers for lost funds as well as pay roughly $20 million in fines to the three agencies.The New York Times said that Citizens Bank’s misconduct “is appalling precisely because it is so basic”, demonstrating that “regulators like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are a necessary defense against a system prone to abuses”.
Paul Manafort investigation
On May 12, 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported that the United States Department of Justice requested from numerous banks, including Citizens, Trump 2016 campaign manager Paul Manafort’s transaction records. According to the article, the request was related to the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. Manafort reportedly secured a 2.7 million-dollar loan from Citizens in 2016.
On February 26, 2018, Bloomberg News reported that Citizens’ stock price dropped 4.1 percent after U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of Manafort was released, appearing to indicate that Citizens was the “Lender B” cited as having lent 3.4 million dollars to the former campaign manager of President Trump.
Franklin American Mortgage
In August 2018, Citizens completed its acquisition of Franklin American Mortgage in a deal valued at $511 Million, expanding its presence into Tennessee and Texas.
Like several other banks, Citizens has agreements with several supermarket chains to locate bank branches in the stores. The greatest number of these are in Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle stores, most of which were acquired in the acquisition of Mellon Financial Corporation’s retail banking division. Citizens also operates branches inside many Stop & Shop and Shaw’s stores in New England. One unique aspect at Citizens branches inside supermarkets is full-service banking from 10 am to 3 pm on Sunday, when banks, including Citizens standalone branches, are traditionally closed. This made Citizens one of the first banks in North America to operate on Sundays. In September 2010, Giant Eagle announced a new agreement with Huntington Bank in which Huntington would open branches in several stores in Ohio and West Virginia and will replace existing branches of other banks when the store’s agreements with those banks expire.
On June 25, 2008, Citizens Bank announced would sell 18 branches in upstate New York as it prepared to open 57 branches downstate. Community Bank System Inc. of DeWitt, New York purchased the branches 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 completed on November 7, 2008.
In October 2009, Citizens Bank opened a full-service branch inside a Dunkin’ Donuts in Bellingham, Massachusetts. The branch offers teller windows, a full-service automated teller machine (ATM) and Dunkin’ Donuts promotions for using the bank’s services.
Citizens was one of the first banks in the US to use Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology on its ATM cards, via MasterCard PayPass. In late 2009, however, Citizens began reissuing its cards under Visa without the RFID technology.
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