Lloyds TSB retail chief resigns to join Citigroup

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The Independent Online

Lloyds TSB has lost the modernising head of its high-street banking division, Terri Dial, who has been poached by the US giant Citigroup.

American-born Ms Dial, lured back into an executive job in banking in 2005 by the Lloyds chief executive Eric Daniels, tendered her resignation after news of her talks with Citigroup leaked out in the US.

Citigroup has not yet made her appointment official, but it is believed she will take charge of the finance industry behemoth's struggling consumer division. Citigroup's new chief executive, Vikram Pandit, is stamping his authority on the group with a wide-ranging management reshuffle that continued yesterday.

Ms Dial began her career as a bank teller at Wells Fargo in California and rose to become chief executive of its retail banking division before going into early semi-retirement in 2001. At Lloyds TSB, she has been fêted for pulling its antiquated high-street banking practices into line with rivals and driving sales of pensions and life insurance through its branches.

Nic Clarke, banking analyst at Charles Stanley, said her departure was a loss for the company. "She has had a big impact on the UK retail division, which had been underperforming for many years," he said. "She has modernised the operations and that has shone through in the improved underlying performance of Lloyds TSB in recent years."

News of Ms Dial's association with Citigroup appeared in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, prompting uproar at Lloyds TSB. Insiders said no one had been informed of her impending departure. A search for a successor has been hastily arranged and Ms Dial agreed to stay on for a period to ensure a smooth transition.

In a statement rushed to shareholders late yesterday morning, Mr Daniels said: "Terri has made a tremendous contribution to the Lloyds TSB group and we wish her well in her future endeavours. She leaves our retail business in excellent shape with a first-class senior management team and I have great confidence in our ability to continue with our strong growth momentum."

Citigroup is expected to name Ms Dial as global head of consumer strategy, charged specifically with revitalising its retail banking and consumer lending arm. These have been plagued by high costs and face growing levels of customer loan defaults.

The appointment of a strong leader for the consumer division has been a high priority since Mr Pandit took over from the ousted Chuck Prince in December.