Investors may want to ask Pam Joseph what she eats for breakfast everyday-and then promptly buy U.S. Bancorp stock. Contributing 26 percent of U.S. Bancorp's revenue and 37 percent of its fee income, Joseph, vice chair of payment services and chairman of Elavon (formerly NOVA Information Systems), is no slouch when it comes to delivering numbers for chief executive Richard Davis. In the first half, her business generated 18.9 percent growth over the same period last year and 31.9 percent growth over first half 2006. Where's the revenue coming from? For starters, merchant processing. Joseph's Elavon subsidiary provides services to 265 of the Fortune 500 companies and processes more than one billion card transactions annually. Need plastic? U.S. Bank's credit card business, led by Lynn Heitman, jumped 25 percent in the first half, while growth in the debit card business mirrored credit cards at 25 percent.

In wealth management and securities services, vice chair Diane Thormodsgard's team is contributing 12.3 percent of the bank's revenue, with first-half growth of 1.3 percent from a year earlier and 5.6 percent during the same period in 2006. Total trust and investment management fees represent nearly 80 percent of the revenue; the entire group has experienced compounded annual growth rate of nine percent between 2005 and 2008-with corporate trust alone generating a CAGR of 20 percent. One other strength: She knows when to exit a business, as evidenced by her winning argument for U.S. Bank to divest of its 401(k) recordkeeping business. Her rationale: no scale and lackluster growth prospects.

On the retail side of the house-often overlooked and down in revenue in the first half from a year earlier by 2.2 percent-women-led retail groups are still contributing 10.9 percent of U.S. Bancorp revenue. One reason: Jeannie Fichtel, who heads U.S. Bank 24-Hour Banking. Through her efforts, the bank has seen a 213 percent increase in sales generated from service centers.

Finally, with the 2007 addition of Bank of New York alum Leslie Godridge, evp and head of National Corporate and Institutional Banking, the wholesale banking group is turning up the unit's performance, while also kicking in 5.7 percent of the bank's revenue.

R.W. Baird analyst David George points out that U.S. Bancorp is among the most profitable banks in the industry, "consistently posting superior returns on assets and capital." Why? Growth in nonbank businesses such as corporate trust and payment services, which have "outpaced bank growth trends, resulting in sizeable earnings contribution from these high-return, higher growth businesses," he recently noted in a research report. To his mind, U.S. Bancorp's stock is "somewhat of a safe haven for the challenging environment." Buffered, clearly, by the performances of the bank's highest-ranking women.

Return to the 2008 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking

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