Under Pressure: Citi's New CIO As Change Agent

The CIO shuffle continues in the financial services industry, with struggling Citigroup looking to its new tech chief to help orchestrate "one of the great turnarounds in U.S. corporate history."
The CIO shuffle continues in the financial services industry, with struggling Citigroup looking to its new tech chief to help orchestrate "one of the great turnarounds in U.S. corporate history."Earlier this month, Citigroup named Marty Lippert as its new CIO. Continuing the trend of adding on operations responsibilities to the CIO role, Lippert also will have the title of corporate operations and technology chief operating officer. Before this appointment, Lippert was head of technology operations at Royal Bank of Canada, and before that he spent 16 years in IT at Mellon Bank, where he last held the title of executive VP for information management and research and chief financial officer of technology.

At Citi, Lippert is replacing Marvin Adams, who moved to Fidelity in December, according to our sister publication Wall Street & Technology.

"Mr. Lippert will play a critical role in driving transformational change across Citi's newly centralized Global Technology and Operations divisions," the bank said in a statement. Lippert will oversee Citi's corporate shared services and real estate operations. He will join the company's senior leadership committee, and work closely with Kevin Kessinger, chief operations and technology officer.

Citi is looking for a lot from Lippert:

"In today's global environment, our competitiveness is dependent on having leading technology and operational capabilities," said Citi CEO Vikram Pandit. "Marty's appointment emphasizes the importance we place on technology in driving enterprise transformation, and we'll look to him to be a key architect of that change. This role is central to Citi's commitment to operational excellence and cost management, and we are excited to have Marty on board to help orchestrate what we believe will be one of the great turnarounds in U.S. corporate history."

Lippert's move to Citi is indicative of a couple of current trends among CIOs. First, the financial services industry, despite dark clouds, seems to have little trouble attracting top talent. Second, CIOs, in particular those in financial services, are taking on more operational responsibilities, such as HSBC NA's Andrew Armishaw, who was recently promoted from CIO to chief technology and services officer, with responsibility for security and fraud operations, corporate real estate, and other operational functions, as well as managing the IT group.

It's also indicative of the tendency by many organizations to bring in a CIO from outside rather than promoting one from within. Lippert is being looked to as a change agent, someone to drive both business innovation and operational efficiency. That is often the rationale for bringing in an outsider rather than elevating a worthy candidate from the IT ranks (or elsewhere).

Citi wants to drive IT-based innovation every way it can. The company recently appointed Deborah Hopkins, a finance executive with IT experience, as its new chief innovation officer, to "bring together the strategy, information technology, and research and development to drive cross-business, client-focused innovation across the company."

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