Citizens to Hire 350 Mortgage Officers, Appoint New Treasury Head: CEO

Mortgage & Real Estate









Citizens Financial Group intends to double its number of home loan officers and install a new treasury services head in its efforts to catch up with regional rivals, Chief Executive Bruce Van Saun said after the bank’s initial public offering Wednesday.

The Providence, R.I., bank, which made its first step of independence away from parent Royal Bank of Scotland by selling 25% of its shares to the public, will hire 350 mortgage officers as part of its immediate plan to double returns over two years.

“We will not have sexy new products, just more people out there,” Van Saun said in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon.

Citizens will also announce soon the appointment of a leader of the bank’s global treasury solutions unit.

The recruit comes from the capital markets division of a leading global bank and will be based in Connecticut, Van Saun said, declining to name the person as of yet. The hire is not presently affiliated with Royal Bank of Scotland or its U.S. operations.

Citizens will make plays in two consumer markets already crowded with competition, too: auto and private student loans, bank officials have said. It will, for example, beginning in October consolidate and refinance both federal and private student loans, an area dominated by Sallie Mae.

Citizens will also move down the credit spectrum from “super prime” to prime car borrowers, Van Saun said. He did not detail how what FICO range the bank will target. Citizens makes at present car loans in 43 states.

Banks have seen auto margins come under attack in the face of sharp competition from specialty finance companies, executives including TD Bank’s Tim Hockey said at investor conferences this month.

The Citizens IPO, at $3 billion, is the second-largest IPO in 2014, following Alibaba Group Holding’s $25 billion debut just last week. Investors were lukewarm to Citizens’ offering, forcing shares down to $21.50 per share from a marketed range of $23-$25, as marketers suggested. The stock closed at $23.08 in the first day of trading.

“Citizens could be described as a ‘big ugly’, a term some institutional investors use to describe large-cap banks that have uninspiring returns and little growth,” said Jeff Davis, managing director at Mercer Capital, ahead of the offering.

Citizens was the ninth bank IPO of the year, compared with only four in 2013 and four in 2012. A stronger outlook for earnings growth is largely attributed for the uptick in activity and may lead to additional banks deciding to go public, analysts agree.

Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase managed the deal.

RBS is expected to full divest Citizens by 2016.

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