Top Citi banker Ray McGuire leaves to pursue NYC mayoral run

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Ray McGuire, one of Citigroup’s top investment bankers, is leaving the firm as he takes the first steps toward a run for mayor of New York.

McGuire on Thursday will open an account with the city’s Campaign Finance Board, said Lupe Todd-Medina, a spokeswoman for his campaign. That step will give him the ability to raise funds from donors and hire more staff as he seeks the Democratic nomination, Todd-Medina said. Former Infor Chief Executive Charles Phillips is helping run the campaign.

One of the most senior Black executives on Wall Street, McGuire, 63, has been rumored to be interested in a mayoral run for months. He’s recently been more publicly vocal about some of his beliefs, including ideas on how to reform educational systems in low-income and minority neighborhoods as well as the need for better health care in those communities.

“I’m considering running for mayor because the same old political solutions and approaches aren’t big enough to solve today’s problems,” said Citi's Ray McGuire.
“I’m considering running for mayor because the same old political solutions and approaches aren’t big enough to solve today’s problems,” said Citi's Ray McGuire.

“I’m considering running for mayor because the same old political solutions and approaches aren’t big enough to solve today’s problems,” McGuire said in a statement Thursday. “This city is a big, complex business that is failing right now. It needs a chief executive who has a vision, who knows how to spark growth, revive the economy, attract the best talent and get this city back to work.”

McGuire was raised by his grandparents and his mother, a social worker, in Dayton, Ohio. He attended Harvard University for his undergraduate education, and received law and master of business administration degrees from the university as well.

‘Big money’

“There’s suspicion among city voters about Wall Street and big money in general,” said George Arzt, a Democratic political consultant who was press secretary for former Mayor Ed Koch. “He’s not well known, and a lot will depend on how he comes across on the stump, and how he presents policies on the side of poor people.”

On his campaign website, McGuire is courting ordinary New Yorkers with tales of his early days in the city. When he first arrived, McGuire said, he stayed at a friend’s apartment rent-free while he searched for his own home.

“I couldn’t afford a place to live in the city,” McGuire said on the website. “They didn’t charge me, but I had to pay all the utilities so, needless to say, I spent a lot of time with the lights off.”

Still, those days are long gone: He ultimately joined Citigroup in 2005 as the bank’s head of global investment banking following earlier stints at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch. After more than a decade in the role, originating deals valued at a combined $650 billion, McGuire was named vice chairman in 2018.

Top echelons

McGuire is one of the few Black executives to have made it into Wall Street’s top echelons, where progress is often slow and uneven. The percentage of Black workers inside Citigroup has fallen for at least eight straight years, according to the bank’s own reports.

“Ray is acknowledged to be among the most respected and admired industry leaders, and has long been a powerful and path-breaking voice for the industry on diversity and inclusion, which we value so highly at Citi,” Chief Executive Michael Corbat and Paco Ybarra, head of the bank’s institutional clients group, said in a memo to employees. “Ray has been a torchbearer, trusted and valued colleague and friend, admired by colleagues throughout Citi, from our facilities staff to the C-suite and board.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio, the incumbent who was first elected in 2013, is barred from seeking reelection due to term limits. He has said he doesn’t intend to endorse a candidate in the Democratic primary.

Crowded race

The mayoral race already includes city Comptroller Scott Stringer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and three former members of de Blasio’s administration. Among Republicans, billionaire John Catsimatidis, whose Red Apple Group owns the Gristedes supermarket chain, has entered the race, alongside Sara Tirschwell, chief financial officer of mental-health nonprofit Foundation House, and Kelly Mack, president of Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group.

During an Oct. 13 forum, many candidates said they would oust Police Commissioner Dermot Shea over his handling of the police response to Black Lives Matter protests in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd. McGuire, for his part, has sat on the board of trustees for the New York City Police Foundation, according to a report last year from the group.

In recent years, McGuire has gotten more involved with the many philanthropic efforts across the city, including serving on the boards of New York Presbyterian Hospital, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem, where he’s chairman.

“His challenges will be many,” said Dick Parsons, Citigroup’s chairman until 2012. “He’s not a well-known name — he’s not been an activist in that sense. He’s a guy who made his name and his living succeeding in the financial services arena.”

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Politics Citigroup Career moves Investment banking Diversity and equality