1. Marion Sandler
Golden West Financial, Oakland CA
Years in banking: 41 // Rank last year: #3 MPWIB

When you head what is routinely touted as one of the nation's best-managed banks, you get used to consistently beating analysts'-and your own-expectations. It's been a long-time pattern for Marion O. Sandler, co-CEO of Golden West Financial and chairman of its Board of Directors. Sandler is an odd coupling of financial genius and design doyenne, known as much for her solid financial performance as for her well-heeled taste in architects-some whose careers she helped foster. In the second quarter of this year, Golden West reported all-time-high earnings, a 16 percent increase over the same period in 2003, and a 16 percent hike in profits in the first half of the year. Record high loan originations rose 55 percent from the previous year and retail deposit growth grew 36 percent. It's paid off handsomely for Sandler, who Forbes says is worth $680 million.

The former Wall Street analyst and her husband, co-CEO Herb Sandler, bought World Savings & Loan in 1963 for $4 million, and went public in 1968. The duo focused on one good idea: low-risk residential mortgages. "She's probably one of the smartest executives in any industry," observes Kenneth T. Rosen, professor of business administration at the University of California at Berkeley, who has been on Golden West's board for more than 20 years. He calls Sandler "straightforward, honest and completely empathetic," and says her bank is "clearly one of the best-run companies in America." Solid performance aside, Sandler hasn't waded into any new businesses, despite rising income rates and an anticipated drop in origination numbers. No doubt, the grand dame of banking won't waste any time-or lose any money-mastering this challenge.

2. Carrie Tolstedt
Group Evp, Regional Banking
Wells Fargo, San Francisco CA
Years in banking: 22 // Rank last year: #16 MPWIB

Carrie Tolstedt has an eye for the big picture. She speaks often of the need to "think bigger than yourself." Inspired by those who excel, she especially admires track star Roger Bannister, who broke the elusive record for the four-minute mile in 1954.

As head of regional banking at Wells, she has overseen the growth of core product sales by 23 percent in the first quarter in year-over-year comparisons. She also led a reorganization of regional banking operations from three separate groups, each with its own management structures, into one. Productivity of bankers rose 10 percent in the first quarter, compared to the same quarter of 2003. By the end of 2004, 100 stores are expected to be built and 200 existing ones renovated.

But Tolstedt isn't all about work: "I want my team members to have a balance in life." Rest assured her eye is always on her job. "When you have a balanced life, you're stronger for the team," says the Nebraska native.

3. Heidi Miller
Evp, Treasury and Security Services
JPMorgan Chase & Co., New York NY
Years in banking: 25 // Rank last year: #6 MPWIB

Heidi Miller may have been passed over for the CFO job after the JPMorgan Chase-Bank One merger in January, but she emerged from the shakeup with a plum post: evp of treasury and security services.

Her unit, one of the bank's five key businesses, contributes about seven percent of the new bank's pretax income, is the No. 1 U.S. dollar-clearing organization, the No. 1 U.S. corporate trustee and the No. 1 securities-lending operation. The former Bank One CFO, says her unit was the most impacted by the union, and she's seeking to achieve economies of scale between the two firms' treasury departments and to integrate Bank One's remittance-processing platform firmwide.

"It's been a huge effort," acknowledges Miller, who declined to discuss management issues, though says she's been pleased with the firm's technology decisions. In the next two years, she says the bank "expects to use our scale in these businesses and to grow it in terms of top-line profitability. We should use the strength of our position to be the innovative provider of choice." For Miller, this new job is like coming home. She started her career in 1979 at Chemical Bank, a precursor to JPMorgan Chase, rising to managing director before moving to Travelers Group in 1992, being promoted to CFO in 1995. She then became CFO of Citigroup, which was formed by the 1998 merger of Citibank and Travelers. And, of course, she's a longtime friend of Jamie Dimon, who is slated to head JPMorgan as CEO in 2006. "Women shouldn't be afraid of extending themselves and taking risks," says Miller, who should know: she took a brief hiatus from banking in 2000 for a nine-month stint as CFO at the up-and-coming Internet retailer Priceline.com. She fled to become vice chairman at Marsh Inc., an insurance and professional-services company. But that, as they say, was yesterday. And Miller's tomorrow, at the nation's second-largest bank-just behind Citigroup-is looking pretty interesting, indeed.

4. Sandy Derickson
Vice Chairman
Household International, Prospect Heights IL
Years in banking: 29 // Rank last year: N/A

Household's Sandy Derickson's career is spinning as powerfully as hurricanes Charley, Frances and Ivan combined. In April, after only four years at Household, she was named vice chairman of the unit, which was bought by HSBC in March 2003. Now she's responsible for the retail, insurance, refund lending and auto-finance businesses, as well as HFC Bank UK. She was hired by Household in 2000 as managing director and CEO of the retail-services business, which includes store and private-label credit cards.

Although the bank declined to release specific numbers, Derickson says her division has hit "the low teens" in percentage of volumes and receivables on the cards side for the first half of 2004. Growth remains her No. 1 priority in the next year, as she tries to develop more "group think" among team members during the integration. New markets and products, as well as channel expansion, now are on her agenda. "She is a leader who truly embraces the qualities that drive our success, building talented teams and motivating employees to deliver consistently strong results," notes her boss, William F. Aldinger, Chairman & CEO of HSBC-North America, in an e-mail statement. He also praised her vision in pressing for the adoption of Six Sigma across Household, which became the operating standard.

5. Carolyn Drexel
North Fork Bank, Melville NY
Years in banking: 30 // Rank last year: N/A

Friends and colleagues say it's impossible not to like Carolyn Drexel. Nancy Mariano, regional director of Friends of Karen, a nonprofit that provides support for children with life-threatening illnesses, says Drexel's unassuming nature belies her boundless generosity. Her biggest strength is her likeability, says John Adam Kanas, president and CEO of North Fork Bank, who hired Drexel 25 years ago.

"I've been in many different positions, so I think I've earned the respect from my fellow employees, which also empowers me," Drexel says. As one of four evps at the $50 billion bank, she oversees all of retail banking, including a 350-branch network and 4,500 employees. Retail banking fee income rose $2 million in June over the previous year, and electronic banking revenue jumped $1.5 million. Since becoming evp in 1998, Drexel has been instrumental in pushing through a string of acquisitions, the latest of which involves $6.3 billion GreenPoint Financial.

6. Debra Lins
President, CEO & Director
Community Business Bancshares, Sauk City WI
Years in Banking: 25 // Rank last year: #23 MPWIB

For more than a decade, Debra Lins has presided over the steady growth of Community Business Bancshares, from its initial $3.2 million capitalization in 1993 to its current size: $46.6 million in assets, $33.7 million in loans and $41.7 million in deposits. Performance in the last year has been strong, with income up 7.15 percent as of the second quarter, compared to the previous year, and total loans up five percent to $35.4 million.

Noting that competition strengthens daily, she says: "John Deer used to be thought of as a manufacturer. Now they're also a financier." Says Jeanne Myers, a svp at the institution: "She's very accessible to clients and staff, and that lends itself to the confidence they have in her."

7. Diana Kirk
Zions First National Bank, Salt Lake City UT
Years in banking: 30 // Rank last year: N/A

Fifteen years ago, research showed customers viewed Zions Bank as a kind of unapproachable, Cadillac-driving guy in an expensive business suit. It was all show, no go for some time: In 1987, the $2.7 billion-asset bank reported a net loss of $10 million.

How things have changed. Today, Utahans personify the $10 billion-asset bank with record-high profits as an affable woman whom they can chat with over coffee. President and CEO M. Scott Anderson says Diana Kirk, the bank's first female vp, had a big hand in that metamorphosis, in part by seeking out niche markets. She challenged Zions' former all-male leadership to reconsider its reputation and founded a Women's Financial Group in 1997. Entirely female-run, about half of its clients are men. "We do hear from men, 'Why don't you have a men's bank?'" says Kirk. "And we generally say, 'The whole bank is for men.' ...So we don't discriminate. The only thing we've done is offer more personal service."

Zions' Private Services division, which she helped found, has boosted the per-household profit to six times that of the bank's average, contributing to an 80 percent increase in her unit's revenue from 1999 to 2003. Between 2002 and 2003, it posted 84 percent growth in net income. Current year-to-date income is up 22 percent.

8. Ellen Alemany
Evp, Commercial Business Group, President & CEO, CitiCapital
Citigroup, New York NY
Years in banking: 27 // Rank last year: N/A

Bankers who complain about their workload should try juggling everything Ellen Alemany has on her plate.

In the last 21 months, as evp of Citigroup's Commercial Business Group and president and CEO of CitiCapital, she built CitiCapital into the second-largest U.S.-based leasing company, thanks to acquisitions of Associates, Copelco, EAB and Schroeders. With a global portfolio of $20 billion-plus, CitiCapital now boasts more than 575,000 customers and is a player in construction, material handling, transportation, healthcare and business-technology finance.

In 1.5 years, the unit's managed receivables grew 390 percent to $37.7 billion. The next year will be even busier, as Alemany smoothes the transition of Citi's new buy, First American of Bryan, TX. Though Citigroup declined to release earnings figures, she says "performance has been stellar." Her boss, Ajay Banga, evp of the Global Consumer Group, credits Alemany's "strategic vision" and "tremendous integrity" for her success. "She's very warm and emotive," he says. "And she makes everyone feel they have a voice."

9. Ranjana Clark
Evp, Treasury Management
Wachovia Bank, Charlotte, NC
Years in banking: 15 // Rank last year: #20 MPWIB

Holding one of the top executive positions at one of the world's largest banks, Ranjana Clark is charged with leading nearly 1,000 employees in providing treasury services for large corporate clients. She's earned rave reviews for her effective management style, business acumen and progressive attitude. In 2003, Clark's unit saw a 40 percent increase in sales over 2002, and is on track for similar growth in 2004, say officials, who declined to provide specific figures.

"She promotes diversity of race, gender and sexual orientation and diversity of thought. She's a role model for women and women of color," says Joe Schneider, svp and head of client delivery, who says it's an important issue to her. "What's troubling in this industry is an increase of the women who 'opt out' from their career tracks in banking at certain stages in their lives, when they have children or when their children get to a certain age," she says.

10. Diane Thormodsgard
President, Corporate Trust, Inst. Trust & Custody Svcs.
U.S. Bank, Minneapolis MN
Years in banking: 26 // Ranking last year: N/A

Diane Thormodsgard's two business lines at U.S. Bank-corporate trust and institutional trust and custody-claim $11.8 trillion in assets under administration, up 80 percent since the end of 2002. And those business lines are on track to generate a combined $500 million in revenue this year, a 50 percent increase over the past two years.

She declined to give profit figures, noting that margins in the trust business are typically low, which means it inevitably becomes a game of scale.

Over the past year, she has been overseeing a mammoth job: the 2002 integration of the $650 million acquisition of State Street's corporate trust business, which nearly doubled the bank's business. Andrew Cecere, vice chairman of private-client, trust and asset-management services, says the integration displayed her skills in cultivating a positive atmosphere and drawing input from all levels. Thormodsgard says she's proud that key employees and 99 percent of the administration staff of State Street stayed on board after the merger, a true feat.

Thormodsgard emphasizes the importance of balance in life. On a flight, for example, she'll spend half the time working and then treat herself to one of her favorite pastimes: reading.

11. Anne Arvia
President & CEO
ShoreBank, Chicago IL
Years in banking: 13 // Last year: N/A

Anne Arvia is a banker who truly makes a difference. Once an accountant in Iowa, she now helps revitalize tough neighborhoods in Chicago and Detroit as the president and CEO of ShoreBank.

She joined the bank as assistant controller in 1991 and steadily worked her way to CEO over the next 12 years. She liked its mission from day one, and helped change what she remembers was a "sleepy culture" by insisting that good works could be done at a profit.

Proof? In 2003, her first year at the top, the bank extended a record $250 million in development loans in target communities, while posting its highest profit ever-$15.4 million-a 14.1 percent hike over the previous year. Her passion also dictates much of her personal time, since she sits on the board of several like-minded organizations. At Community Investment Corp., for example, she has been a long-time advocate of owner-landlords in low-income neighborhoods, which research has shown is a key factor in housing quality, says president John Pritscher.

12. Lorraine Boston
Evp, Commercial Services
Kennebunk Savings Bank, Kennebunk ME
Years in banking: 25 // Rank last year: N/A

In her six years as head of Kennebunk Savings Bank's commercial services department, Lorraine Boston helped shepherd a transition from a largely retail bank to an evenly split 50-50 retail and commercial bank.

Under her tutelage, the bank's commercial portfolio grew to $247 million today from $72 million in 1998. As of the second quarter, the bank posted outstanding commercial loans worth $207 million, a 20 percent year-over-year increase.

That growth has allowed funds to train employees to better react to market indicators, competitive analysis and improving the credit culture in the bank.

"The portfolio has grown with excellent asset quality," says Eric Andrews, team leader for commercial lenders, noting the percentage of non-performing loans is less than one percent, versus three percent for institutions of similar size. In 2003, the bank was the No. 1 Small Business Administration lender, in terms of volume, among all states.

13. Faith Massingale
Evp, Consumer Value and Growth Markets, Citi Cards
Citigroup, New York NY
Years in Banking: 30 // Rank last year: N/A

Faith Massingale's impact at the nation's largest financial institution is as broad as it is voluminous. As the manager of the AT&T Universal Card, she overseas a business that company officials say by itself earns about the same annual revenues as Neiman Marcus and the Wrigley Co.-about $3 billion-though Citi wouldn't release the exact amount.

With 145 million North American accounts, Citi Cards operates in 43 countries and is the bank's largest single earnings center. She heads the prime segment of the U.S. cards business, with six discrete units: Citi Platinum, UCS/AT&T, Citi Dividends, Thank You Redemptions Network, Diamond Preferred Rewards and College. Under her management, the Citi AAdvantage product, the bank's cobranded card with American Airlines-the globe's oldest and most profitable co-branded credit card -also added new products. "As a woman, she's made me feel like I could accomplish anything," says Lisa Parks, an svp for Citi Cards.

14. Gigi Dixon
Svp & Director of National Relationships
Wachovia, Charlotte NC
Years in banking: 11 // Rank last year: N/A

Gigi Dixon built from scratch most of Wachovia's programs targeting emerging markets, which include ethnic groups and women, one for female business owners. "She was instrumental in creating a groundswell of awareness about growing markets and opened up opportunities for the bank," says Carrie Broussard, vp of marketing at Windham International Hotels & Resorts, who knows Dixon through the National Association of Women Business Owners.

Dixon was recently promoted from director of emerging markets to svp and director of national relationships, where she is overseeing partnerships with community and national groups. Dixon ensures that the $97 million Wachovia donated last year through foundation, corporate and employee contributions is aligned with corporate strategy.

Dixon is a founding board member of Wachovia's Women's Advisory Council, comprised of about 40 senior women. "That organization is a forum for women thought leaders to bring a women's lens to everything that we do as a company," she says.

15. Deanna Oppenheimer
President, Banking & Financial Services
Washington Mutual, Seattle WA
Years in banking: 19 // Rank last year: #5 MPWIB

Character and resiliency are traits Deanna Oppenheimer, Wamu's president of banking and financial services, is putting to good use this year. Though she was tapped in October 2003 to reorganize the mortgage-banking unit, adversity would soon plague Wamu, which delivered bad news in July, announcing a 49 percent slide in second-quarter earnings of $489 million. In the aftermath, several groups of shareholders filed suits alleging bank officials misled investors about the company's expected earnings.

Analysts say the firm was unprepared for how interest rate hikes would affect its gargantuan mortgage business, was gobbling up acquisitions faster than it could integrate them, and wasn't able to quickly resolve the glitches in its proprietary technology platform. After Oppenheimer's 10-month stint, in which she says she "did a tough assessment of the problems and put together a plan to fix them," mortgage operations were shifted to Craig Chapman, who was head of the commercial group. "We realized the business would benefit from having a dedicated person. ...The interesting thing that happens with this kind of challenge is that perception becomes crucial," she says.

All these gyrations have made Wamu a prime takeover target, with Citigroup and HSBC rumored to be circling like great whites. Oppenheimer isn't blinking. "Deanna is one of these people who can see through all the distractions and accurately diagnose a situation instantly," observes Ronald R. Thomas, president of the University of Puget Sound, Oppenheimer's alma mater, where she sits on the board of trustees. "She's always right on target and with tremendous insight. She is someone who makes you feel like she has x-ray vision." He also notes her "amazing display of energy, intelligence, charm and wit."

Now Oppenheimer is fully concentrating on retail banking, where she continues to be a force of nature: as of the second quarter, total retail deposits increased $5.33 billion year over year, and net income rose 25 percent to $508 million. In June, Wamu won a patent for its retail branch design, which proposes a unique welcoming environment; more patents are expected to follow. Another 350 stores will be opened in the next year. And Wamu's new debit card, whose usage raises contributions for area schools, has netted an astronomical 1.5 million subscribers. Mentors are extremely important to Oppenheimer, who notes Lou Pepper, who retired as Wamu chairman and CEO in 1988, "continues to be a terrific mentor to me."

16. Lynne Wines
President & CEO
Union Bank Sunrise FL
Years in Banking: 30 // Rank last year: N/A

Union Bank has Lynne Wines' leadership to thank for making it one of South Florida's fastest-growing and largest community banks during her 18-year tenure, with assets jumping 225 percent to the $1 billion mark this year, from just under $300 million in 1986.

Her performance so far this year has been staggering. For the first six months, the bank reported $19.5 million in revenue, up 24 percent, and $4.8 million in net income, up 68 percent, compared to the same period in 2003.

The Nova Southeastern University grad and South Florida Business Journal "Financial Heavy Hitter" has established the bank as one of the region's largest commercial real estate leaders and has spearheaded a number of promotions and high-profile hires from neighboring institutions. "She is very smart, but is equally comfortable surrounding herself with smart people," says Steve Saiontz, chairman of the board for Union Bank.

17. Ruth McLaren
Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest, Oak Park IL
Years in Banking: 14 // Rank last year: N/A

Unbeknownst to her, Ruth McLaren's boss, Martin J. Noll, president of Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest, nominated her because she "wears 10 hats," making her the "glue that holds our bank together," he says. "She is responsible, sensitive, organized and unflappable."

McLaren is HR officer, compliance officer, bank secrecy officer, CRA officer and marketing director for the $185 million-asset bank. She helped Noll get the single-branch bank off the ground eight years ago, after brazenly approaching him-and declaring that he needed her on his team. He has no regrets.

In both 2002 and 2004, the bank earned 22 percent on equity and 1.5 percent on assets. Assessing failed savings and loans for Resolution Trust Corp. from 1991 to 1995 helped shape McLaren's judgement. And she's no stranger to leadership, having been one of the few women in the state of Illinois to run a bank when she was president of Madison National Bank of Niles, IL, from 1987 to 1991.

18. Heidi Stanley
Vice Chair & COO
Sterling Savings Bank, Spokane WA
Years in banking: 19 // Rank last year: N/A

Heidi Stanley joined Sterling Savings Bank as the 29th employee in 1985. Now there are 1,700 employees working to make the $6 billion institution the "leading regional bank in all measures," she says. The toughest part of the job for Stanley, vice chair and COO, is maintaining the bank's small-town culture-while still growing-and offering a decentralized management that empowers employees.

The bank's growth has been 50 percent organic and 50 percent via acquisition, she says. That buying culminated earlier this year with the acquisition of $1.5 billion Klamath First Bancorp. With her oversight, that deal was not only the largest in the bank's history but also the most seamless, says Sterling chairman and co-founder William Zuppe, who also serves as chairman of America's Community Bankers. Indeed, there appeared to be no hiccups in earnings, which surged 47 percent to $25 million in the fist six months of 2004 compared to the same period last year.

19. JoAnn Bourne
Evp & Group Head, Commercial Deposits & Treasury Mgmt.
Union Bank of California, Los Angeles CA
Years in banking: 23 // Ranking last year: N/A

JoAnn Bourne says corporate treasurers don't have time to educate bankers, so she makes sure her employees at Union Bank of California already know the issues before they pick up the phone.

She has a deposit manager for every commercial customer focused on a specific industry. That way, the bank won't be in the all-too-common position of blindly asking clients about their challenges. Commercial deposits, which stood at $14.5 billion on August 31, increased 22 percent for the same period year over year. Bourne is also responsible for cash-management sales, product management and e-business. Her cash-management operation ranks 13th among U.S. banks and she's not shy about her goal: she wants to crack the top 10. And this from a bank that ranks 29th in asset size nationally.

When a boss holds employees accountable-and encourages them to grow-she says they usually step up to the plate. She gave the green light to one employee five years ago who wanted to pursue labor unions. Today that specialty-the bank has 17 specialties-is a "booming business," she says.

She's even taught a few things to the L.A. County Economic Development Corp., where she's a board member. Through her leadership role on a regional survey, the group learned of an untapped market of growing companies involved in international trade, observes bank vp Stephen Harper. "You definitely have your eye on somebody worth tracking," he observes.

20. Patricia Wesner
EVP, Retail Payment Solutions
U.S. Bank, Milwaukee WI
Years in Banking: 27 // Rank last year: N/A

Patricia Wesner's father, Richard, challenged his children to take the high road in all matters. And it's shown in the noteworthy contributions of his daughter, both at U.S. Bank and in her community. "She has a wonderful, no-nonsense approach," agrees Richard Davis, vice chairman of consumer and commercial banking at U.S. Bank. "She could talk about products, but she talks about the benefits."

As of the second quarter, her division produced $1.3 billion in revenue, eight percent higher than the same period last year. Her unit's revenue represents 11 percent of total bank income, and boasts 9.3 million customers. She is responsible for all aspects of consumer and small-business card products, as well as oversight of a division that provides relationship accounts to simplify payments.

She is on the board of the Florentine Opera and is a member of Tempo International.

21. Donita Koval
President & CEO
Omega Bank, State College PA
Years in banking: 21 // Ranking last year: N/A

In the highly fragmented Pennsylvania marketplace, the 44-office Omega is in the midst of a major growth spurt. The bank's acquisition of Lewisburg-based Sun Bancorp, with $1 billion in assets, will roughly double Omega's size to $2 billion-plus, says president and CEO Donita Koval. Once the merger is finalized, as is expected this quarter, the bank will be the 21st largest in the commonwealth.

At the second quarter, net income was down 7 percent, to $3.9 million, year over year. But Koval is not overly concerned with a short-term dip in earnings. Rather, she says her main goal is to keep the bank focused on its long-term approach with conservative funding practices. And on that count, non-performing loans fell 35 percent to $3 million as of June, year over year.

Koval is the first woman to head the bank, which holds one of the 13 original bank charters dating back to 1863, the year the national banking system was founded. She says her undergraduate degree in human development and family studies from the University of Houston emphasized personal communication, which has helped her as much as her MBA from the same school. She recalls one class where students where taught how to listen. And listening is a skill in short supply in management, she says.

Long-time customer and local small business owner Paul Silvis personally benefited from this skill. When Koval was a loan officer years ago, she listened so well to Silvis's concerns that she suggested he refinance his loan, a recommendation that surprised him since he became a less lucrative customer. But he appreciated the advice.

22. Theresa Schefstad
President, CEO & Director
Raymond James Bank, St. Petersburg FL
Years in banking: 28 // Rank last year: N/A

When Theresa J. Schefstad founded Raymond James Bank in 1994, which became the first brokerage-owned bank, the Florida native knew she wanted this hybrid to be something special. Today, the interest income of the $1 billion-asset Raymond James Bank represents 21 percent of total interest income for its parent, the brokerage Raymond James Financial. Three years ago, Schefstad started pressing for more business in syndicate purchases, corporate loans and swaps, and the bank's portfolio loans grew 20 percent over that period.

And the growth is showing no sign of slowing: Raymond James Bank now has viable deals with 50 other banks, up from 20 only a year ago. "This niche on the corporate lending side has really worked well for us," she says. "We're not large enough to threaten the big institutions because we're not on every corner."

Says William R. Klich, state president of BB&T, who first worked with Schefstad at Southeast Bank from 1985 to 1990, when he was the regional president and she ran the private-banking unit, "She's one of the best bankers I've ever met. There's no job that she doesn't really want to understand how it works and why. ...Her work ethic is what's really amazing."

The former Coast Bank evp is active in the Financial Services Roundtable, the American Bankers Association and the Florida Bankers Association, where she is also a longtime board member.

23. Jan Cloyde
Evp and Director of Banking Services
City National Bank, Beverly Hills CA
Years in banking: 30 // Rank last year: N/A

Sure, it's Beverly Hills, a town fixated on makeovers. Jan Cloyde, who single-handedly rejuvenated the cash-management system at City National Bank, knows all about that concept-financially speaking. CEO Russell Goldsmith credits her ambition and recruiting skills with helping a fledgling program flourish. During her tenure, cash-management sales doubled, hitting $22 million for the first six months of this year.

A big fan of automation, Cloyde has streamlined more than 70 processes, which she says led to "millions of dollars" in savings, an 80 percent cut in payment fraud, and a doubling of payment volume over the past five years. She also has helped manage the integration of five banks acquired at City National, aiding the bank in its expansion efforts in California and New York. And net income rose 14 percent to $103 million in the first six months of this year, compared to the same time period last year. Moreover, ROA was 1.61 percent, up from 1.55 percent, for the same period.

As a member of the five-person executive committee overseeing all bank operations, Cloyde's operating division has a $97.4 million budget and 850 employees. Cloyde has held posts at Home Savings of America, First Interstate Bancorp and Crocker Bank, where she formed the cash-management consulting group.

24. Cynthia Blankenship
President & COO
Bank of the West, Irving TX
Years in Banking: 28 // Rank last year: N/A

Cynthia Blankenship's 28-year rise to the C-suite is highlighted by leadership both inside and outside the bank's offices, where she chairs the Independent Bankers Association of Texas' Education Foundation.

"She creates an environment that's focused on building relationships in the community," says Anita Reed, a Bank of the West branch president who's worked with Blankenship for a dozen years. "She empowers and encourages the entire bank staff to become involved in community activities." Blankenship has led the $221 million-asset institution to a four-year compound growth rate of 15 percent for assets and 14 percent for deposits, from 1999 to 2003.

In the first six months of 2004, the bank reported a 1.3 percent increase in assets, to $219 million, year over year, though deposits slid 6.6 percent during the same period. ROA is 0.93 percent.

25. Nadia Cavner
Svp and Financial Consultant
US Bancorp Investments, Springfield MO
Years in banking: 15 // Rank last year: N/A

As one of U.S. Bancorp top brokers among 425, Nadia T. Cavner is the last stop for the ultimate word-of-mouth referral. Fee income shot up more than 11 percent in the second half of 2004, to $2 million from $1.8 million, compared to the previous year. She did that, in part, by streamlining her client base down to 2,800 from the 3,000 she had last year, allowing her to focus only on clients with more than $5 million in investable assets. Today, she manages more than $400 million in assets.

"Women have a way of being able to make clients more comfortable," says Cavner. "We can really use our intuition to our advantage. We have that motherly touch that seems to get clients to open up and talk more about their fears, goals and dreams. We can usually make a connection."

That connection is underscored by one surprising factoid: 75 percent of her clients are referred by existing ones. "One of the biggest blessings has been client referrals," she says. ""We have a great deal of existing client satisfaction. I'm one person, but I have a seasoned staff that really helps me tremendously. ...I often tell my staff, 'When you treat people the way they want to be treated, that makes them feel like you're in their corner. That's the name of the game.'" It's obviously a game she's had no trouble winning.

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