Most Powerful Women in Banking: Nandita Bakhshi
President and CEO
Nandita Bakhshi has long been an advocate for women, and lately she’s stepped up her efforts to advocate for something else too: the environment.
Since she joined Bank of the West as president and chief executive in 2016, the U.S. banking unit of BNP Paribas has made a $1 billion commitment to clean energy financing over five years and has stopped financing activities that run counter to its ideals, including fracking and Arctic oil and gas exploration.
Now the San Francisco-based bank is offering its customers new ways to support the cause. This summer Bank of the West launched a checking account for those who support climate action and committed to donating 1% of revenue from the account to environmental nonprofits.
The rollout follows what Bakhshi describes as one of the bank’s most productive years; in 2019, its assets climbed 5.6% from a year earlier, to $93 billion.
The pace of growth has accelerated this year, as assets increased more than 7% through the first half, to $100 billion, and deposits ballooned by 14%, to $80.3 billion.
One of Bakhshi’s proudest moments this year was when her team pulled an all-nighter to ensure customers’ loan applications for the Paycheck Protection Program were submitted to the Small Business Administration before the initial round of funding was exhausted.
At one point, the Treasury had closed the system to large banks like Bank of the West for eight hours so smaller banks could submit their customers’ applications.
“At midnight, we had 70 volunteers log back on and discover that funds were still available after all — if we could act quickly,” Bakhshi said. “From that point we began diligently working all night to submit, even staying on past the morning shift, and ultimately successfully submitted 10 times more loans than we had previously for our customers.”
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.