It's no accident that this year's ranking of the Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance includes seven women from Wells Fargo. In addition to being an industry giant with many opportunities to run large business lines, this is a company that takes a studied approach to leadership development, with special emphasis on women and other diversity candidates who have been traditionally underrepresented in the financial services sector.

One of the company's most recent successes on this front is its Executive Mentoring Program, which is proving to be a valuable tool for retaining emerging leaders near the top of the pipeline. The program matches each of the 84 members of the management committee with high-potential executives from across the company, usually someone in a different area of the business and with a different cultural background.

Structured mentoring doesn't always make for a natural fit, but the results of this program suggest it's working very well for Wells Fargo. The first cohort of mentees, who concluded the 18-month program last September, included 77 women, 44 percent of whom were promoted after the start of their mentoring relationship and 98 percent of whom have stuck with the company. Among the current crop of 45 female mentees, about 10 percent had been promoted at the six-month mark and the retention rate stood at 100 percent.

Another set of numbers worth celebrating at Wells: though its management committee shrunk by four members last year, the number of women on the committee increased by two, boosting female representation within the group from 20 percent to 24 percent. Wells also has more female board members than any of its big-bank competitors (five of its 14 directors are women) and the company's financial performance continues to make it a standout in its size category.

Carrie Tolstedt and Avid Modjtabai run two of the company's most important business lines, community banking and consumer lending, respectively. As head of Wells Fargo Insurance, Laura Schupbach oversees the fourth-largest insurance brokerage in the country and the largest among bank-owned brokerages; and Karla Rabusch, president of Wells Fargo Funds Management, has over the past 10 years taken the Wells Fargo Advantage Funds from the 27th-largest fund family in the industry to the 11th-largest, with assets under management nearly tripling to $221 billion.

The contributions of Wells' senior women go beyond revenue and profit. Last September, the community and government relations group overseen by Chief Administrative Officer Patricia Callahan established a military affairs program to provide housing, job training and financial education to veterans; and in May of this year, Lisa Stevens, the president for West Coast regional banking, launched a company blog (open to employees and nonemployees alike) called Life in Balance, about her personal experience raising three children while managing a career in financial services.

San Francisco

2012 Financial Highlights:
Assets: $1.4 trillion
ROE: 12.95%
ROA: 1.41%

Female representation among corporate officers: 30%

Female representation on operating committee: 24%

The Team: Beverly J. Anderson, Caryl Athanasiu, Patricia Callahan, Julie Caperton, Mary Coffin, Pamela Conboy, Christine Deakin, Lesley Eckstein, Shelley Freeman, Dawn Martin Harp, Theresa LaPlaca, Michelle Lee, Mary Mack, Avid Modjtabai, Jamie Moldafsky, Laurie Nordquist, Karla Rabusch, Debra Rossi, Laura Schulte, Diane Schumaker-Krieg, Laura Schupbach, Diana Starcher, Lisa Stevens, Carrie Tolstedt, Karen Wimbish

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