Despite Citigroup's (NYSE:C) struggles over the past decade, the bank industry has a lot to thank the New York-based lender for. First and foremost was its early support for term loans subject to variable, as opposed to fixed, rates. As The Motley Fool's Gaby Lapera and John Maxfield discuss in the video below, this innovation, which traces its roots to Citigroup's management team in the 1960s and 1970s, has made it much easier for banks to combat interest rate risk in the decades since.

A transcript follows the video.

This podcast was recorded on March 28, 2016. 

Gaby Lapera: Correct me if I'm wrong, did Walter Wriston come up with variable rate mortgages or loans? Was that something he did?

John Maxfield: He did.

Lapera: Which is brilliant, if terrible.

Maxfield: Yeah, it's totally brilliant. What it did, at the time ... First of all, the real actual term loans, for the most part before Walter Wriston and his predecessor George Moore came into effect, they really just would do very short-term loans that would roll over on a yearly, monthly basis for corporations. Moore and Wriston came in and they said look, let's do longer term loans, but as opposed to doing a fixed interest rate which would get you into that position where the thrifts were during the savings and loans crisis, where if the short-term interest rates went way up but you were locked into 8% 30-year mortgages where you could lose a lot of money, they said look, let's tie the interest rate on term loans to the prevailing interest rate in the market. That way if the interest rates in the market go up, the interest rates on the loans go up, so that protected them from so-called interest rate risk.

Gaby Lapera has no position in any stocks mentioned. John Maxfield has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.