Monday, February 9, 2009

Citizens Bank in Transition

Is it time to abandon ship at Citizens Bank? Melissa Burden of The Flint Journal reports:

"John D. Schwab, executive vice president and chief credit officer, joined the company in November 2002 and oversaw the Flint-based bank holding company's credit approval and credit quality issues. He retires after 40 years in the banking business.

"Schwab's retirement follows the announcement late last month that Bill Hartman would retire as president and chief executive officer at the end of January and that Cathy Nash, who most recently headed regional banking for the company, was chosen to succeed Hartman."

The downward spiral of Citizens Republic Bancorp Inc. (CRBC) stock over the past three years.


  1. Citizens (there is no apostrophe) has been in transition, in pursuite of, "wow," for nearly a decade. With the stock at $1.04, I think it's safe to assume they haven't quite nailed it.

    As for abandoning ship... it used to be that there was very little turnover. Many people -aka "internal controls" - loved going to work there. Year after year, you could go to the annual Christmas sing-a-long and see the same, familiar, friendly faces - bankers, customers and their kids. The last one I went to yielded an entirely new crop of unfamiliar, very scared faces. I didn't see many customers or children.

    For the leadership team that believes, "perception is reality," you've got a lot of polishing to do on the old weatherball.

    Sorry, Bill and Charlie: Bank OnePointFive just didn't happen the way you schemed. Cathy? Good luck. You'll need a hell of a lot more than that, though. A history lesson in your company would be a damn good place to start.

  2. Thanks for the comment...and the copy editing. After years of complaining about what editors have done to my work, I now realize I'm a pretty lousy copy editor. From now on, it's Citizens,not Citizen's.

    You sound like somewhat of an insider. Any thoughts on what the future holds for Citizens?

  3. You're welcome.

    I'm a... ghost... of Citizens past. My blood flowed red on warm days, blue on cold days, yellow when there temperature stayed the same and boiled in agitation when there was precipitation! Of course, some of that might have been Churchill's martinis, too.

    I can't say what's going to happen to the company in the future. The path it took several years ago needs to be recognized as the wrong one and an immediate direction change executed, otherwise it will continue to fail. Put simply: even the Bible has been twisted and bastardized to do the most horrendous atrocities known to man. It should therefore be considered that maybe, just maybe, the tomes the management team sought to emulate might have been poorly interpreted and executed.

    Personally, I'd like to see the company wildly succeed by embracing what it was: a community bank that gave a damn. That's not, "project an image of giving a damn." I mean, "go home and worry at night if you did enough for the car dealer down the street or the old lady who needed a loan for new windows," kind of give a damn.

    Whether they realize it or not, their success depends *solely* on the success of the communities they service (the current "the economy sucks" thinking is more "bottom feeder" than "market leader;" that attitude might be fine for some other Michigan-based bank, but not Citizens).

    Literally, they should jealously adopt a, "to hell with the investors, to hell with Wall Street, we're taking care of our communities and our staff," attitude. If they do that, they'll do fine.

    Disclosure: I'm not a stock holder. Though, at the current price, it's a steal.

  4. damn shame, just a shame. They were an institution that Flint, Flintstoners were proud of. So many of us started our first forays into banking with them...Thanks for sharing.


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