Citizens Financial Group

Citizens Financial Group, Inc.
Type Subsidiary
Industry Finance
Founded 1828
Headquarters Providence, Rhode Island
Key people Ellen Alemany, CEO
Products Financial Services
Employees 21,400
Parent Royal Bank of Scotland Group
Several banks are commonly known as Citizens Bank.

Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is an American bank headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, which operates in the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. Citizens is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, with headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Following the financial rescue of RBS, the company's controlling shareholder is currently the British government.



Early history

Citizens was first established in 1828 as the High Street Bank in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1871, the Rhode Island legislature gave a second charter to establish the Citizens Savings Bank which eventually acquired its parent group to form Citizens Trust Company. The bank then expanded through Rhode Island, opening a total of 29 branches in that state. Citizens Financial Group was established as a holding company when the bank acquired The Greenville Trust Company in 1954.

In 1985, Citizens changed status from a mutual savings bank to a federal stock savings bank. Expansion into other states began with Massachusetts in 1986.

RBS ownership

Citizens' branch footprint
Citizens Bank headquarters in downtown Providence, constructed 1991.

In 1988, Citizens accepted a takeover bid from the Scotland-based bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which used Citizens Bank as a stepping stone into the American market. In the following sixteen years under RBS ownership, Citizens acquired several smaller banks in the New England area to become the second largest bank in the region. In 1996, the acquisition of First NH Bank saw the Bank of Ireland gain a 23.5% stake in Citizens, which was repurchased two years later by RBS.

Expansion outside New England began in 2001, when RBS purchased the retail banking division of Mellon Financial Corporation in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, and three years later, bought Cleveland-based Charter One Bank for $10.5 billion (see below), which made Citizens Financial the ninth-largest bank in the United States with over $128 billion in assets and 1,400 branches across 13 states, making Citizens Financial Group contribute 25% to the profits of RBS.

In July 2003, the bank purchased the naming rights to the new home field of the Philadelphia Phillies, calling it Citizens Bank Park.

On January 17, 2003, Citizens Financial Group, Inc. purchased Commonwealth Bancorp, Inc., the holding company for Commonwealth Bank, based in Norristown, Pennsylvania.[1] In 2004 RBS purchased the credit card division of Connecticut-based People's Bank. This purchase allows Citizens to issue and market its own credit cards. In late 2004, Citizens Financial acquired Cleveland-based Charter One Bank for $10.5 billion, with branches in Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, upstate New York, and Vermont.

On September 1, 2007, the individual banks under Citizens Financial Group, excluding Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania, were merged into RBS Citizens, N.A.

Financial crisis

On April 18, 2008, RBS revealed that it would post almost $8 billion in losses related to subprime mortgage securities. Less than a month earlier its CEO, Sir Fred Goodwin, denied rumors that losses were possible.[2]

In May 2008, Citizens Financial Group, an RBS subsidiary, failed to publicly announce that it was under investigation by the SEC for its involvement in the sub-prime mortgage crisis that has devastated the U.S. housing market and bond investors around the world.[3] Only banks involved in the purchase and sale of subprime securities were under investigation.[4]

On 27 Jan 2010, Citizens Bank is sued for $8 billion,[5] claiming that the bank used sham accusations of default to recall loans in an effort to prop up its failing parent companies, Citizens Financial Group and "its ultimate parent, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group."


Like several other banks, Citizens has branches inside supermarkets, the most notable of which is with Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle, most of which were acquired in the acquisition of Mellon Financial Corporation's retail banking division. There are also branches inside many Stop & Shop and Shaw's stores in New England. One unique aspect at Citizens branches inside supermarkets is full-service banking on Sunday, when banks are traditionally closed (including standalone Citizens branches), usually from 10 AM to 3 PM. This made Citizens one of the first banks in North America to operate on Sundays.

In October 2009 Citizens Bank opened a full-service branch inside a Dunkin' Donuts in Bellingham, Massachusetts.[6] The branch offers teller windows, a full-service ATM and Dunkin' Donuts promotions for using the bank's services.[6]

In addition, RBS purchased Lynk systems of Atlanta, Georgia to processes non-cash transactions (such as credit, debit, EBT, loyalty, gift, and check transactions) from merchant point-of-sale terminals, web sites, and ATMs. The company had been rebranded as RBS Lynk, and later as RBS WorldPay before it was sold on November 30, 2010 as part of RBS's disposition of its Global Merchant Services business.[7]

Citizens was one of the first banks in America to use RFID technology on its ATM cards, via MasterCard PayPass. In late 2009, however, Citizens began reissuing its cards under Visa without the RFID technology.

On June 25, 2008 Citizens Bank announced it was selling 18 of its branches in upstate New York as it prepared to open 57 branches downstate. The branches were sold to Community Bank System Inc. of DeWitt, NY. The branches sold were in Ausable Forks, Champlain, Fort Covington, Indian Lake, Lake Placid, Lyons Falls, Long Lake, Malone, Newcomb, North Creek, Plattsburgh, Saranac Lake, Ticonderoga, Tupper Lake and Whitehall. The sale was completed on November 7, 2008.

Charter One Financial

Charter One Bank branch, downtown Ypsilanti, MI
The Charter One Bank logo used in Citizens’ Midwest branches.

In late 2004, Citizens Financial acquired Cleveland-based Charter One Financial, parent company of Charter One Bank, with branches in Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, upstate New York, and Vermont. Because Citizens Republic Bancorp of Flint, Michigan already operated under the Citizens Bank name in most of Charter One's territory, Citizens Financial elected to keep the Charter One name at most of these branches (except in New York and Vermont, which were re-branded as Citizens Bank), though it adopted a logo similar to Citizens as well as the green-colored theme.

Despite the use of the different names, the two banks are otherwise the same, with Charter One having been fully integrated into Citizens and allowing Citizens customers to do banking at Charter One locations and vice-versa. The websites for both banks are also identical, with the only difference being the name.

In early 2005, seven Citizens Bank branches in Butler County, Pennsylvania, started to rebrand with the Charter One name. This rebranding resolved a 3½-year-old name dispute with Butler-based Citizens National Bank. By mid-2005, Citizens National and Citizens Financial agreed to a compromise. Citizens National Bank changed its name to NexTier Bank, while the Citizens Financial Group branches reverted back to the "Citizens Bank" name. The name change became moot less than five years later when in 2010 Warren, Pennsylvania-based Northwest Bancshares (which Citizens competes directly with in Pittsburgh and Buffalo) agreed to buy NexTier for $20.3 million in cash.[8]

In February 2007 the Charter One franchise acquired GreatBank, GreatBank Chicago, and First National Bank — all brands of GreatBanc Inc of Chicago, IL. With this acquisition came GreatBanc's 10 banking locations and 14 ATMs throughout Cook, McHenry and Will counties. This transaction expands Charter One’s presence in Chicago, Skokie and Evanston and provides entry into the towns of Olympia Fields, Chicago Heights, Frankfort, Cary and Algonquin.

In 2009 Charter One's Indiana bank branches became Old National Bank after Old National Bank bought Charter One's Indiana operations.[9]

Current size and scope

Today, Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is a $130 billion commercial bank holding company. Through its subsidiaries, it has more than 1,500 branches, approximately 3,800 ATMs and approximately 21,400 employees. Its two bank subsidiaries are RBS Citizens, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. They operate a 12-state branch network under the Citizens Bank brand in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, and the Charter One brand in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. [10]

See also


  1. ^ Department of Banking. "DOB: Bank Mergers/Acquisitions in Connecticut". Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Smith, Mark (2008-05-12). "Royal Bank under investigation over US sub-prime loans". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  4. ^ Winnett, Robert (March 20, 2009). "RBS traders hid toxic debt Billions of pounds of “toxic” sub-prime mortgages were bought by Royal Bank of Scotland traders in a spree that was not disclosed to the bank's board.". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Courthouse News Service". 2010-01-27. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  6. ^ a b Abelson, Jenn (October 21, 2009). "Pastries and finance: a match made in Bellingham". 
  7. ^ "RBS agrees to sell 80.01% interest in Global Merchant Services to a consortium of Advent International and Bain Capital". Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  8. ^ "Northwest Bancshares to acquire NexTier". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. May 5, 2010. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "About Us". Citizens Bank. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 

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