Citi’s Fraser Warns Asia Consumer Not ‘Firing on All Cylinders’

Citigroup Inc. President Jane Fraser said she’s worried about signs the bank is seeing in consumer behavior in Asia as it weighs what a potential recovery could look like in the U.S.

Fraser, who also leads the firm’s global consumer unit, said individuals in recent months have remained cautious about spending, despite the fact that certain parts of Asia weren’t hit as hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Citi’s Fraser Warns Asia Consumer Not ‘Firing on All Cylinders’

“Asia has been a little concerning,” Fraser said Wednesday at the Bloomberg Invest virtual conference. “The consumer is far from firing on all cylinders in Asia, and I think that’s a concern for us here in America.”

Citigroup’s consumer franchise in Asia operates in 17 markets. The bank has more than 16 million credit-card accounts in Asia and its wealth-management business in the region caters to more than 400,000 consumers.

Citigroup, with more than 13,000 workers in New York, plans to start ramping up its return to the office next month, with about 5% of staff making the move in.

Fraser, who’s led the bank’s response to the virus in North America, said Citigroup is committed to bringing its employees back to offices as soon as it’s safe. The firm believes having employees in offices is an important way to build culture and encourage mentorship.

“I’m not prepared to declare the death and demise of the office just yet,” Fraser said. “In the long run, I think it’s very important that we’re back in the office.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.