Citigroup Inc., a company based on the promise of big profits from the sale of its own products through its various distribution networks, has appointed a cross-selling czar.
Last week it named Robert I. Lipp as vice chairman and added him to its board of directors. The 62-year-old, who runs Citi's consumer banking operations, will join the office of the chairman and work alongside Sanford I. Weill, chairman and chief executive officer, and Robert E. Rubin, the former Treasury secretary who joined Citigroup last fall as chairman of the board's executive committee.
Mr. Lipp said that Citigroup has had some success with cross-selling, but that there is more to be done.
For example, he said, cross-selling of products and services for corporations - particularly cross-selling between Salomon Smith Barney and Citibank - has come more easily than expected. Meanwhile, cross-selling among the company's consumer operations "is taking longer than originally envisioned."
"It took a fair amount of time to get PFS to sell second mortgages," Mr. Lipp said, referring to sales representatives of Primerica Financial Services, the company's corps of financial planners. "We're moving at a faster pace now."
Previously, cross-selling was coordinated by the leaders of Citi's three major businesses - corporate and investment banking, consumer banking, and asset management. Mr. Lipp said that, as czar, he will continue to work with business-line managers to emphasize cross-selling.
George Bicher, an analyst at Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, said Mr. Lipp's appointment "shows that the company is not resting"- that whatever cross-selling has been going on "is not good enough for them - there is a sense of urgency."
Mr. Lipp is also taking on oversight of Citigroup's technology projects and administrative staff, a role that has been vacant since John S. Reed retired as co-CEO in April. Mr. Lipp will remain chairman and chief executive of Citi's global consumer bank.
The surprise departure of Mr. Reed this year sparked speculation that the company would begin the search for a successor to Mr. Weill. But the appointment of Mr. Lipp to the office of the chairman was not seen as ending that speculation.
In a conference call Wednesday to discuss quarterly earnings, Mr. Weill brushed aside questions about succession and retirement. In an interview Friday, Mr. Lipp chuckled at the suggestion. Succession "is usually not a topic of discussion," he said, adding that younger executives are being groomed for the senior role.
Still, a company outsider said Mr. Lipp's promotion "makes it clear that Sandy has a strong privy counsel around him."
Mr. Lipp, a former president of Chemical Banking Corp., has been one of Mr. Weill's closest confidants since he joined a Travelers Group predecessor company, Commercial Credit Co., 14 years ago.