Vikram Pandit may have saved Citigroup (NYSE: C), but he was never a natural fit as its long-term leader. Now the board is betting that Michael Corbat has the chops.

Pandit's sudden resignation Monday and his immediate replacement with longtime Citi veteran Corbat were both surprising and inevitable. Five years after inheriting Citi at the start of the financial crisis, Pandit has held the bank together through three bailouts and a massive effort to divest and simplify its businesses. But he never managed to change his reputation as a hedge fund wizard without deep commercial banking expertise. Nor did he fully overcome Citi's status as damaged goods from the crisis.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.