We spoke with CLSA banking analyst and author of “Exile on Wall Street,” Mike Mayo, after reading a piece in the New York Post where he said at a conference that it’s time for Citigroup chairman Dick Parsons to hit the road.
With the annual meeting in April approaching, Mayo said it would be appropriate for Parsons to step down from his post as chairman.
“My thought is that under his tenure either as head of the compensation committee or as chairman of Citigroup several of the problems that were in place before the crisis remain in place today and the top of the firm should be held accountable,” Mayo said in a telephone interview with Business Insider.
“To sum up, someone needs to be held accountable,” Mayo said. “The job has not gotten done with Dick Parsons as chairman in terms of adequately changing the tone at the top of the company.”
This is not the first time the bank analyst has been critical of Parsons leadership at Citi.
On page 6 of his recently published book, Mayo mentions a Bloomberg BusinessWeek profile of Parsons where the Citi chairman refers to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner as “Timmy” and his ability to just call him up.
“He had the ability to call the Treasury Secretary anytime he wanted to flaunting any access that he might have. I thought that was an embarrassment to the industry,” Mayo said, adding, “What kind of signal does that send to a small bank that would like to have access to the Treasury Secretary? It sends a signal that the industry is rigged.”
What’s more is Mayo said if, in fact, Parsons had that sort of access to the Treasury Secretary he really shouldn’t be flaunting in such a public forum.
In that particular article, Parsons also said that if the government hadn’t bailed out Citi the U.S. would be like Egypt.
Mayo called those comments “arrogant.”
Basically, Mayo thinks a leadership change will ultimately create a “more constructive tone at the top.”
“In our view, this move is a necessary first step, albeit not sufficient by itself, to help better evolve Citi’s culture, controls, conduct, costs, conservatism, and communication,” he wrote in a note.