Most Powerful Women in Banking: Ellen Alemany, CIT Group

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Chairman and CEO

Ellen Alemany has overseen acquisitions before, but never in circumstances quite like this.

Less than three months after CIT Group acquired Mutual of Omaha Bank in Nebraska, the coronavirus pandemic forced more than 90% of the company’s 4,400 employees to work at home.

Add to that the drive to get Paycheck Protection Program loans to small businesses in crisis, widespread race protests that closed some branches in California, hurricanes in the East and wildfires in the West, and it’s easy to see how the integration could have ended up getting delayed.

But “frequent and proactive communication” with employees and a rebranding effort “organized with military precision” made a huge difference in bringing the two companies together, said Alemany, CIT’s chairman and chief executive.

Alemany, who led Citizens Financial Group through the financial crisis, came out of retirement in 2016 to undertake the transformation of CIT from a commercial finance bank to a more traditional bank.

The $1 billion acquisition of Mutual of Omaha Bank was a chance to take a giant step in that direction by adding a stable, lower-cost source of deposits through a homeowner association banking channel, new treasury and payment options and middle-market bankers to do more commercial loans.

Last year, CIT reported a 28% increase in net income and achieved its growth target in core loans and leases, while trimming $50 million from expenses, one year earlier than expected. In keeping with the ahead-of-schedule achievements, Alemany said she expects to realize $25 million of its projected 2021 savings this year instead of next year.

Outside of CIT, Alemany and her family are supporting the creation of the Alemany Learning Center, a state-of-the-art facility scheduled to open in 2022 at the Children’s Specialty Hospital at the Center for Discovery in Harris, N.Y.

The center offers housing and special education programs to more than 1,200 children and adults every year. Alemany is a board member at the center, where her oldest daughter, also named Ellen, is a resident.

For the first time, American Banker's Most Powerful Women in Banking celebration is open to the whole financial community. Join us virtually October 6-8 to hear our 2020 honorees' stories and experiences. Register here.

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Commercial banking C-suite Ellen Alemany CIT Group Women in Banking