Gary Weiss profiles Vikram Pandit in this month’s magazine, and his conclusion seems spot-on:
What Citigroup needs now is not a wannabe Sandy Weill but someone with the elusive qualities needed to revive the banking giant from its slump. Pandit’s current course doesn’t seem bold enough, nor does his vision seem clear enough, to put the lumbering colossus back on track.
My views on Pandit are known, and it seems they’re shared by Citi types, too:
Citi’s challenge is now more structural than operational, a management nightmare ill suited to a C.E.O. running his first-ever public company. “I don’t know who his godfather is,” says one former Citi banker. “He has the background to run a hedge fund, not a bank.”
And when Pandit meets reporters, they tend to emerge from the experience decidedly underwhelmed. Weiss is no exception:
He talks more about growing in the future than winding his way out of Citi’s past, reciting his strategy in well-rehearsed cadences, reflecting a Pandit-era culture that favors neologisms like globality and clientcentricity.
I’m reminded of a classic slide from what Weiss describes as "a widely hyped three-and-a-half-hour dog and pony show for analysts and investors on May 9". This comes from a presentation by Manuel Medina-Mora, jealous head of one of Citi’s most important fiefs, Latin America:
As a symbol of everything that’s vapid and content-free about Pandit’s strategy, it can hardly be improved upon.