Captain Titanic shuffles the Citigroup deck chairs again

01/12/2010 2:33 pm EST

Focus: STOCKS

Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor, JubakPicks.com

Citigroup (C) keeps rearranging those deck chairs.

The latest move on the banking industry’s Titanic is the ouster of Teresa Dial, head of the North American retail banking unit since 2008. The company announced that Dial will leave to pursue personal interests.

She would be replaced by Manuel Medina-Mora. He has been CEO of Citi Latin America since 2004. Prior to that he was CEO of Banamex.

Certainly the North American consumer banking business needs to work better. In the third quarter the consumer business, including credit cards and mortgages, generated a $9.4 billion loss.

But I think the real message in this latest shakeup is that the big problem remains at the top.

Dial was one of Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit’s first senior hires after he took over at the top of the bank. He recruited her from Lloyds TSB in March 2008.

At some point, you’d think, the board would say, Enough juggling of management positions. Let’s find a CEO with some experience in the retail banking business that was once upon a time Citigroup’s strongest business.

Citigroup’s board is going through its own changes.  John Deutch and Michael Armstrong, two longtime board members, are expected to leave the board before the company’s April shareholder meeting. Look to see who gets to fill those seats—business as usual suits or tough-minded executives who will push for change—to see if Citigroup will tackle its real problem, the one at the CEO level, anytime soon.

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