Among her peers, Citigroup's Jane Fraser may stand out just for the sheer number of air miles she logged last year while leading the troubled company's re-engineering effort. As the New York firm intensified efforts to reduce risk, shed assets and boost capital, London-based Fraser estimates she made 40 trips across the Atlantic. "Last year was a little unusual," she says.
Fraser, 42, who became head of Citi's Global Private Bank in June, took on the re-engineering effort in late 2007, when she became Citi's global head of strategy and mergers and acquisitions.
However, the job description changed as Citi's capital needs mushroomed in 2008. To date, Citi has shed multiple assets, including businesses in Germany and Japan, and a stake in Smith Barney, its brokerage unit. "When last fall hit, with the magnitude of change, the speed of events - events that you would never have imagined - the role then took on a very different feel," Fraser says.
Fraser, an Edinburgh native and member of Citi's senior leadership committee, attributes her skill at problem solving to the 10 years she spent as a partner at McKinsey & Co. She made the jump from McKinsey to Citi in 2004, becoming head of client strategy for the global banking division. The move followed several years of coaxing from former Citi executive Michael Klein, who began wooing Fraser years earlier after hearing her speak about Race for the World, a book on globalization she co-authored while at McKinsey.
When Fraser expressed interest in running a line of business, Edward "Ned" Kelly, a Citi vice chairman, says that her "leadership skills and her client skills" identified her as someone who would be an "extremely effective" head of the private bank. Both she and Kelly say Citi's woes and the broader crisis have not dented business at the unit, which targets the very wealthy. "Some [clients] were clearly worried about the headlines back in November, I think everybody was, but I think most of them feel pretty comfortable with Citi now," Fraser says.