Citizens Financial Group, Inc
Children looking at a poster advertising the opening of the new Barrington branch of Citizens Savings Bank, 1950s
Citizens Financial Group, Inc (1828-date), established in Providence, Rhode Island, USA, was formerly part of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group.
This bank was established in 1828 as High Street Bank. By the 1820s Providence was one of the chief industrial areas of New England and its port was one of the busiest on the eastern seaboard. As Rhode Island’s commercial banking business grew, so too did the local savings bank movement. In 1871 the directors of High Street Bank determined to establish their own savings bank and launched Citizens Savings Bank.
By 1921 High Street Bank had deposits of $1,521,000. Citizens Savings Bank, with deposits of over $15m, had become much bigger. The depression of the 1930s hit New England hard, and by the 1940s High Street Bank was concerned that it might be bought out by a large commercial bank. Citizens Savings Bank responded by purchasing High Street Bank’s stock until it had gained a controlling interest. In 1947 High Street Bank moved into the savings bank’s building and the following year changed its name to Citizens Trust Company.
In 1947 Citizens opened a branch in Cranston and further growth was achieved through the acquisition of Greenville Trust Company in 1954. Expansion continued, and by 1981 it was operating 29 branches state-wide and had assets of $971m. In 1985 Citizens Financial Group was formed as a holding company for the two banks and Citizens Savings Bank converted from a mutual to a federal stock basis. Gulf States Mortgage Company, Georgia, was acquired in 1986 and Fairhaven Savings Bank, Massachusetts, in 1987. In 1988 Citizens Financial Group became a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group.
In 1990 Citizens acquired Bank of New England-Old Colony and also expanded into Massachusetts and Connecticut with a series of acquisitions, including Plymouth Five Cents Savings Bank in 1992, New England Savings Bank and The Boston Five Bancorp in 1993, Neworld Bancorp and Coastal Federal Savings Bank in 1994, and Quincy Savings Bank in 1995. These deals added 93 branches to the bank’s existing network.
Citizens’ expansion continued with the acquisition of Farmers & Mechanics Bank of Connecticut in 1996, Grove Bank of Massachusetts and Bank of New Haven of Connecticut in 1997, Woburn National Bank of Massachusetts in 1998 and the Commercial Banking Group of State Street Corporation in 1999. In 2000 Citizens acquired Boston-based UST Corporation and its USTrust branches in the Boston area.
In 2001 Citizens acquired the regional banking business of Mellon Financial Corporation and also extended its in-store branches in a deal with New England’s largest grocery retailer. In 2002 Citizens purchased Medford Bancorp and Commonwealth Bancorp and in 2003 The Feitelburg Company. In the same year, further acquisitions increased the bank’s market share and presence in Massachusetts and the Philadelphia area.
In 2004 Citizens completed the largest transaction in its history, with the acquisition of Charter One Financial Inc of Cleveland, which operated 680 branches in 9 states. The acquisitions of the credit card division of People’s Bank and Lynk Systems, a merchant processor based in Atlanta, Georgia, increased its business in the US credit card market. In 2007 Citizens Financial Group acquired GreatBanc, a $1.2bn bank holding company with three community-banking subsidiaries including GreatBank, GreatBank Chicago and First National Bank.
In November 2013 The Royal Bank of Scotland announced its intention to divest Citizens by means of an initial public offering. The divestment was undertaken in stages, the last of which was completed in October 2015.