Citi @ Florence, KY

Speaking up.

When the Coronavirus slammed the US, many businesses were totally unprepared.

I posted an article on FB about the closing of the Citibank site (mostly, Bankcards, with a small contingent of USCC Citigold representatives) in Florence, KY.

Seems that they were open for business as usual, with the majority of employees still on site.

Then, it was discovered that 3 employees had been diagnosed with the dreaded virus. They closed the building for a few hours on a Monday while it was “deep cleaned”. Employees returned to the site the same day.

Then, on Wednesday of the same week, another employee tested positive.

Finally, senior management invoked their COB/Continuity Of Business plan & sent all employees home. Many of them were able to connect electronically & as such, worked from home (WFH).

I was appalled that it took a 4th employee for them to finally come to their senses. And the whole situation clearly pointed out just how shortsighted their COB plan actually was.

Citi always depended on “moving & redirecting call traffic in the cloud” to handle emergency situations at any one of their sites. But they were never fully prepared to take on a disaster like the one many businesses faced.

The thinking was always, “Well, if there was a natural disaster that took out the building, it was probably devastating & large enough to greatly impact the employees that lived there as well.”

They never imagined a situation like the one they faced.

And that’s a major problem! COB plans should cover every possible risk to a company (physical, financial, reputation, telecommunications, sabotage, etc. & to every possible degree).

So after I slammed Citi senior mgmt for what I believed was a way-too-slow reaction to a dangerous situation for their employees, I felt that it was appropriate to “defend” my position.

So I added a comment…

“Oh, in case anyone thinks I wrote this just because “Ah, he’s just a disgruntled ex-employee!”, nothing could be further from the truth.

“I still LOVE my Citi & all its people…always have & always will.

“I still bleed Citibank blue (none of that red umbrella shit)!”

I have NO ISSUES WHATSOEVER in helping people/companies by pointing out their mistakes…in hopes of learning from them, not repeating them & being that much smarter going forward.

I often did the SAME EXACT THING in different Citi boardrooms, offices & conference rooms when I was still there.


The seniors scowled at me when we were doing due diligence & interviewing the first company (Msource?) to handle our outsourced CitiPhone calls. I was told (during a break) to “Please, shut up! The contract’s probably already signed!”

I replied, “I really don’t give a shit! They have tons of holes in the their processes! BTW, why invite me then? You know how I am!”

They (them & us) didn’t approve any one of the several proposed enhancements I put on the table. 🤬

– They refused to give their location to customers who asked (as if the customers couldn’t already easily detects their accent). They said, “It’s a matter of security”. I replied,”You have access to our customers’ very confidential information! That’s absolute nonsense!”

– They would use clearly-American first names. One rep even called himself “Bubba”!!! I recommended that they merely “Americanize” their regular names in a common-sense fashion.

– They had no alternate site, nor definitive plans for one. I lost my mind on that one.

What was so damned frustrating to me is that I received NO SUPPORT WHATSOEVER from my USCC partners at the meeting!

But, in 6 months time, they incorporated EVERY SINGLE ONE of my recommendations into their operation.

Oh, did I mention that I wrote to the various (very) Senior Managers…ya know, 1-3 levels above the USCC…about all my issues with outsourcing?

Same way the USSC (we were the U.S. Service Center) senior mgmt team, in the beginning, refused to listen about the poor service we were providing.

(Note: Before I came down from Nat’l Operations in NY to SA, I was the main liaison with the USSC for the NY Banking Division. I listened to their calls, read their investigations…

…and developed a serious twitch whenever someone said, “Didja hear what…?” or “Pls read & handle this for me!”)

When CEO John McEachern laughed, then cursed, at a video of 6 employees from NYB at a focus group, absolutely massacring us, I stood up (I was subbing for my buddy, Dan Owczar at a Directors meeting) & said, “John, you’re making light of a very serious situation! It’s the blind leading the blind down here, I shit you not! I know 4 of those 6 people on the video personally, 3 are branch managers & they’re all straight shooters! And that’s nothing compared to what I hear on the phone myself every single day!”

“Well, what do you recommend, Mike?”

“First, let’s take what they’re saying seriously. *glare* These guys know what the hell is going on. They speak directly, in person, with the customers. They receive all the stupid calls we incorrectly transfer to the branches.” 

(Note: I was running Tax Shelter Operations at the time, not even part of the CitiPhone organization. But I was supposed to come down to San Antonio ~6 months earlier than I actually did – – as a CitiPhone Director – – but they pulled some bureaucratic/organizational bullshit with me so I diplomatically declined.)

John asked that I provide him, by the end of the week, with a list of the top 5 areas on which to concentrate.

I actually sent him an e-mail that same afternoon, copying the entire senior mgmt team, with my top 25 items…none of which I hadn’t previously communicated a thousand times before!

I then met with CitiPhone & Training on each & every subject.

Excruciatingly painful, very detailed & often, contentious discussions took place regularly over the next few months & I truly believed it greatly helped them to see things much more clearly.

Oh, and they learned.

A lot.

At Lehman Brothers, I refused to hand out a series of Qs & As, prepared by Corporate in NY, soon after Bears Stearns collapsed in Feb 2008 to handle any inquiries from our mortgage-servicing customer base. They threatened to fire me…I threatened to go to every media outlet & gov’t agency with their thinly-veiled lies & half-truths disguised as legitimate, honest responses to valid questions & concerns.

Within an hour, I reworked the whole piece for my people & they agreed to let us use it.

Eventually, with the Great Mortgage Crash of 2008, Lehman Brothers was the 1st major Wall St firm that the Feds “allowed” to fail. They propped up everyone else & paved the way for mergers & emergency funding.

Not afraid to stick my stupid neck out when people tend to play 🐵 🙉 🙊!!!

As always, thank you so very much for listening!

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