Citigroup boss Vikram Pandit made an outstanding PR move, offering to talk with Occupy Wall Street protesters. He earns McCauley's "PR Guy of the Week."
The Occupiers now should hold Pandit to his word.
During a Fortune magazine breakfast meeting on Wednesday, Pandit said: “I’d talk about the fact that they should hold Citi and the financial institutions accountable for practicing responsible financing. I’d be happy to talk to them anytime they want to come up.”
Vik, you can make an even bigger splash. Since OWS is a leaderless group, it would be better for you to seize the initiative and meet the protesters on their home turf. From a security point of view, it’s easier for Pandit to hop on the subway and go downtown to Zuccotti Park -- where the cops already are -- than to have a rag-tag bunch of Occupiers attempt to pass through the tough security at Citi’s headquarters.
Pandit also scored points for criticizing Wall Street for not reaching out to Main Street to help restore the trust that has been broken between financial institutions and Americans. It's time to rev up that big financial PR machine.
Actions, of course, speak louder than words. Citi could show a measure of gratitude for its taxpayer bailout by increasing the availability of loans to small businesses.
Another move: how about dumping those recently announced fees on checking accounts? Citi plans to slap a $15 a-month fee on accounts of customers who don’t have a combined $15,000 parked at the bank, “earning” an interest rate of 0.01 percent. [CapitalOne is running a brilliant ad campaign in which it offers 5x the average rate. What a deal!]
Fifteen thousand dollars is a good chunk of change during these tough economic times. Dump the fees, Vik!
Pandit, at the very least, acknowledged that OWS has valid gripes. That’s in sharp contrast to other bankers. He deserves a good hearing when he decides to take that walk in the park.