• Empowering informed financial choices.

    By Brandee McHale, Director of Programs, Citi Foundation June 04, 2010 02:06 PM

    A recent major study by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation showed most Americans lack the knowledge and skills they need to make the right financial decisions for themselves and their families. These findings from the National Financial Capability Study are a cause of great concern at Citi because they showed, among other things, that most Americans aren't adequately saving for emergencies, college or retirement, and just 46 percent correctly answered two basic questions about interest rates and inflation. The study also found that more than one in five respondents use high-cost alternative borrowing methods such as a payday loans and pawn shops.

    As millions of Americans struggle to recover from the economic crisis, financial educators and financial services providers like Citi are searching for new ways to improve the financial skills of consumers. The traditional approach has been classroom-based, emphasizing accumulation of knowledge in a group setting. But there's a consensus building about shifting the focus to building financial capability and giving consumers the knowledge to help them make better-informed financial decisions.

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  • Working to stabilize Europe's economy.

    By Citi June 04, 2010 01:54 PM

    In our increasingly interconnected global economy, events around the world can have serious impact here at home. And in the last several weeks, we have seen instability in European financial markets cause volatility on American exchanges. That instability, due largely to Greece's debt crisis, is being addressed in an aggressive and unprecedented way by the European Union and the European Central Bank (ECB).

    Still, much uncertainty remains. A core problem is the state of the euro-area government bond market, which is currently focused on the potential for some countries to default on their debts rather than bond yields. That focus has left many European financial institutions holding hundreds of billions of euros in risk assets that were previously considered free of risk. Remarking and recategorizing these assets as risky negatively impacts the ability of banks to hold these bonds, and therefore support the capital needs of some euro-zone countries. To improve the situation, our Institutional Clients Group (ICG) has proposed a new program, reported by Reuters among others, that would help stabilize the European bond market: the European Debt Assured Purchase Agreement program.

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  • Partnering for community development.

    By Citi June 01, 2010 12:19 PM

    Citi's corporate citizenship is founded on alliances that are long-lasting, comprehensive and constructive. For example, Citi has worked closely with ACCION Texas for more than ten years, as it has grown to have the largest small-business microloan portfolio in the U.S. Our alliance has included: a landmark deal in 2008, in which Citi's Commercial Bank and Citi Microfinance provided a financing structure that enabled ACCION to expand; development of industry-standard technology; ongoing financial support from the Citi Foundation; and ideas and strategic thinking by the Citi Community Development team in Texas.

    Citi also partners with the YWCA of Metropolitan Dallas to help that agency deliver essential financial education. With grant funding from the Citi Foundation and leadership and volunteer support provided by Citi Community Development, the YWCA is able to help many low-income women get access to tax credits and social benefits that can help ensure their well-being and that of their families.

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  • Women: World's largest emerging market.

    By Erica Jayson, Associate Director of Marketing, Women and Company June 01, 2010 11:57 AM

    Women collectively represent the single most important force in the global economy. So much so that the Harvard Business Review has coined the phrase "Female Economy."1 Over the next five years, women's global income is estimated to increase by $5 trillion, more than twice the GDP growth expected from China and India combined.2 Propelled by this new social paradigm, women are moving the global economy forward.

    At Women & Co., we're watching this transformation and seeing that it's not only through earnings and wealth accumulation that the economic momentum of women impacts our world. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, there may be no better investment for developing countries than the investment to educate girls. It leads to higher wages, increased health care and better education in communities. We witness this reinvestment mentality play out among the Women & Co. community again and again. Women pass it on. They share their knowledge, promote issues important to their families and make decisions based on a community-oriented value system.

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  • Diversity: a competitive advantage.

    By Ana Duarte-Mccarthy, Chief Diversity Officer, Citi May 28, 2010 09:47 AM

    The 2009 Global Citizenship Report, featured in Citi Foundation President Pam Flaherty's post last week, includes a discussion on how we work internally to build a diverse workforce and to provide all of our employees with the opportunity to reach their full potential.

    This is critical work that not only benefits our colleagues and their families, but also helps to maintain and build one of Citi's key competitive advantages. Our workforce, which reflects our international client base, not only understands each customer's specific needs, but brings to the table deep knowledge and experience, a creative and innovative perspective and a wide range of ideas and solutions.

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  • Securing a future.

    By Citi May 26, 2010 04:10 PM

    Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has done tremendous work developing the concept of the Financial Opportunity Center, a neighborhood-based program to help low-income families learn more about how they can achieve financial stability and grow their incomes. People can walk into one of the Centers and get help finding living-wage jobs, accessing public benefits and managing income and expenses. There is also financial coaching to help clients develop a roadmap for their future.



    LISC's Financial Opportunity Center is the kind of effort we've made it our business to support. "Our whole mission around economic empowerment is really to help people build a stronger future for themselves," says Daria Sheehan, senior program officer of Citi Foundation. That's why the Citi Foundation is proud to contribute $1 million through 2010 to expand the project to areas of Houston, San Diego and Newark, and benefit an ongoing program in Chicago.

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  • Helping small business owners harness the power of social media.

    By Raj Seshadri, Head of Small Business Banking, Citibank May 26, 2010 10:30 AM

    So maybe not everyone is on Facebook...yet.

    That's why, as part of National Small Business Week, Citibank Small Business is hosting an online seminar to help small businesses get online.

    A recent Citibank survey revealed that small business owners are not taking full advantage of online tools to help them grow their business. In the survey, 63 percent of small business owners called "word of mouth" the most effective way to market their business and find new customers -- yet 81 percent said they do not use social media.

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  • Pandit addresses Responsible Finance and "Responsible Economic Growth."

    By Citi May 25, 2010 10:17 AM

    Speaking at the graduation ceremony for Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs last week, Citi CEO Vikram Pandit told students about his optimism for the American model of growth based on entrepreneurship and creativity, calling it a magic formula, although one which is no longer America's secret. As the U.S. debates public policy to control the excesses that caused the financial crisis, Pandit said care must be taken to preserve the essential drivers of economic enterprise such as the ability to both make capital work, quickly and efficiently, and connect people with opportunities.

    Pandit outlined three challenges going forward. First, he called for comprehensive reform so that the financial system can better generate capital, jobs and growth that benefit everyone. Key to restoring the trust in and health of the markets are a level-playing field for all financial industry participants, the end of the phenomenon where a bank is "too big to fail", a strong federal consumer authority to protect consumer interests and real transparency into financial transactions.

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  • Women: Defining the family's financial legacy.

    By Dawn McAvoy, Director of Marketing, Women and Company May 24, 2010 01:04 PM

    My favorite t-shirt growing up proclaimed, "Anything boys can do, girls can do better." It made sense when I was 9, but a few decades later, I know it's a little more complicated. I think it's more accurate to say that women just do things differently. Even when it comes to finances.

    And when it comes to our finances, women are entering a new age and taking a new approach. We are no longer just driving the purchasing decisions; we are also driving the saving, investment and philanthropic efforts for our households. A recent Women & Co. study shows that two-thirds of affluent women in the U.S. now consider themselves to be the CFO of their households.

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  • The foundation of citizenship.

    By Pam Flaherty, President and CEO, Citi Foundation May 18, 2010 05:37 PM

    At Citi we have not only an opportunity, but feel a sense of obligation to make a positive contribution to the communities we serve. Our work towards meeting that goal was recently outlined in our 2009 Global Citizenship Report, which featured the activities of the Citi Foundation, an organization I have the privilege of leading.

    The Foundation, which is committed to the economic empowerment of individuals and families (particularly those in need), provides grants for programs that complement Citi's citizenship efforts in five key areas: microfinance and microenterprise, small and growing businesses, financial capability and asset building, college and careers and neighborhood revitalization in the United States.

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