Chairman and CEO, CIT Group
Ellen Alemany came out of retirement in the past year to continue a turnaround effort underway at the $66.7 billion-asset CIT Group. She's got her work cut out for her.
The former head of Citizens Financial Group had been a board member at CIT for almost two years when it was announced last fall that she would succeed retiring Wall Street icon John Thain at the helm. She started as president and chief executive of its bank unit in December, before adding the titles of chairman and CEO at the parent company in April.
Among her priorities are slashing expenses, unloading CIT's aircraft financing unit, and shedding its Canadian equipment and commercial finance business. She also is struggling to get CIT under $50 billion of assets to escape designation as a systemically important financial institution and the additional regulatory requirements that come with it. That's a departure from the strategy of Thain, who "wanted to build a really big bank," Alemany recently told analysts.
She said various divestitures in the works or under discussion would leave CIT in the mid-$50 billion range, which, she acknowledged, "is not an optimal position." The earliest CIT likely could escape the SIFI designation is 2018.
CIT was best known as a commercial finance company until it acquired OneWest Bank in Pasadena, Calif., in 2015. CIT recently took a $230 million charge for a business it inherited from OneWest: Financial Freedom, a reverse mortgage servicer under investigation by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. CIT also had to delay filing its 2015 results because of a material weakness at Financial Freedom. CIT plans to exit that business as well.