Citi may be more cautious than states in reopening offices

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Citigroup's Jane Fraser said the firm may be more cautious than local governments once it starts reopening offices around the world.

The bank has clients in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions and has operations across the U.S., where some governors are pushing to reopen commerce. Fraser, Citigroup's president and head of its global consumer bank, is leading the bank's pandemic response in North America.

"We will continue to prioritize the safety of our employees, customers and communities," Fraser said in a LinkedIn post Tuesday. "That may mean being more cautious than the guidance of a city, state or country."

Citigroup's Jane Fraser
Citigroup's Jane Fraser

Competitor JPMorgan Chase, meanwhile, told staff Tuesday that it would would begin bringing them back to their workplaces through a phased approach and using guidance from government entities and health authorities.

"We want to do it at the right time — which may differ by region, country and state — and in a manner that prioritizes your health and safety," the bank's senior leaders wrote in a memo, the contents of which were confirmed by a spokesman. About 180,000 employees, or 70% of the firm's staff, are working from home.

Citigroup said last week that roughly 80% of its employees around the world are working remotely as part of the firm's efforts to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Fraser said Tuesday that the bank will do its best to allow employees to keep working at home if they feel uncomfortable returning to the office.

"For colleagues, our guiding principle has been to keep on site only those who cannot possibly do their jobs remotely," Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat said during Citigroup's annual meeting Tuesday. "In areas with high community transmission, virtually all of our traders are off the floors."

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