Tough talk: TFB Bancorp Chief Executive Mary Lynn Lenz says bankers and directors need to have frank discussions about selling, even if the exchanges get heated. "There are a lot of community banks that have a board that says it will never sell the bank, which does no justice to shareholders. Or you can have a CEO that then says, 'What about me? Will I have a job? Maybe I'm too young to retire,'" says Lenz, who has sold four banks in the last 10 years. "You have to make the best effort to not interject those personal interests into the decision." Check out her interview, in which she talks about why the parent of Foothills Bank decided to sell, how she chooses what CEO roles to take on, and her secret to turnaround success.
It can't get any worse: With plans by the incoming administration to attack financial regulation, Sallie Krawcheck doubts diversity on Wall Street is going to improve, but she also says there is some cold comfort in knowing that it cannot get any worse either. "It got worse because Wall Street went through a crisis," she said. "While you and I may think, the people who caused the crisis would not end up in power on the other side, that's not what happened. When industries go through crisis, they tend to be less diverse on the other side. Executives say we can't afford diversity right now instead of maybe diversity will help us." In this interview about women in the U.S. workplace, she also talked about the increasingly irrelevant "queen bee," Americans getting louder with their misogyny, trusting your own instincts and women acting like women, instead of women acting like men. "Women need to negotiate more, need to ask for more money, need to be more assertive, then need to ... act like a man, right? The problem with that advice is that as a woman it's really exhausting having to spend your life acting like a man," she says. "Can't we let women act like women?" Krawcheck is CEO of Ellevest, a digital investment platform aimed at women and is an ex-Bank of America and Citigroup executive.
Female founders, male investors: Unconscious bias against women may be out of their control, but communication and delivery of thoughts and ideas is certainly not, according to Nvoicepay.com CEO Karla Friede, who offers six strategies for women who are trying to get their startups funded. Having gone through six funding rounds with her startup, she determined that the solution to female founders' difficulty getting funding from mostly male venture capitalists is to rethink how they deliver their message. She says Jennifer Fleiss, co-founder of the designer dress rental service Rent the Runway, at first couldn't get an audience of male VCs to understand the importance of the perfect dress. "She assembled a focus group, delivered dresses to them and filmed their reactions opening the boxes and trying on the dresses," Friede says. "Then it was no longer a man talking about the product, or a woman talking about the product. It was a customer talking about it, and that's more powerful than an entrepreneur of any gender pitching it." Male founders are 86% more likely to attract venture capital than female founders, who often have to bring in a man in order to get some funding. Female VC partners are more likely to invest in companies with female executives and three times more likely to invest in one with a female CEO. (These stats sound familiar? We've mentioned them before — here and here.)
A mind of its own?: Computers are only as smart as the people who teach them, said IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, in discussing her company's purchase of the regulatory compliance consulting firm Promontory Financial Group. "Part of why we bought Promontory was, these systems, they do have to be trained," Rometty said in an interview conducted by Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan at the FinTech Ideas Festival in San Francisco. And who better to train Watson on regulatory compliance? "You need to care about who trains what you use."
Gloves off: The persistent opposition to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — which has been fierce since day one — has been cloaked in misleading arguments, says Jeanette Quick, who has served as senior counsel to the Senate Banking Committee and counsel at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Among them: the CFPB is unaccountable, unprecedented and unconstitutional, Quick says in an op-ed that pleads with the president-elect to let the agency live. Also, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is trying to rally progressives to save the CFPB. "A dedicated grassroots effort can beat Wall Street at their own game," Warren said. "If the Trump Administration, big bank lobbyists and their Republican friends in Congress want to get rid of Dodd-Frank, they are going to have a big fight on their hands."
Deal of the (new) year: Columbia Banking System in Tacoma, Wash., struck the first sizeable deal of the new year with an agreement to buy Pacific Continental in Eugene, Ore. for $644.1 million. Melanie Dressel, Columbia's president and CEO, would lead the combined company, which would have more than 150 branches in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. The cash-and-stock deal is expected to close by mid-2017.
The CFPB made a series of leadership changes, including naming Elizabeth "Eli" Reilly as chief financial officer and Leandra English as chief of staff. Reilly had been the deputy CFO and English is returning to the agency having worked there previously in assorted roles, including deputy chief operating officer.
Valley National Bancorp in Wayne, N.J., has promoted Dianne Grenz to become its chief consumer banking officer, making her the first female senior executive in the company's 90-year history.
Eastern Bank in Boston has hired Sujata Yadav as head of consumer lending. She was previously head of sales growth for Citi Cards North America.
Suzanne Brennan, who served as the executive vice president of operations and systems at Guaranty Bancorp in Denver from May 2005 to December 2010, has returned to join its board of directors.
Following the merger of Bank of Ann Arbor and Bank of Birmingham, Jenny Meier has been named Birmingham district president for the newly formed organization.
Albina Community Bank CEO Cheryl Cebula will step down at the end of March.
In Case You Missed It
Houston, we have liftoff: Bank of America named Hong Ogle as its market president for Houston when the city was about to enter an oil downturn in 2014, but her business results have never suffered. She attributes that to strong ties with customers. "Being able to serve them and hold their hands through this difficult time is how we build relationships for the long term," she says. In some key areas like Houston, B of A is growing its branch presence, not shrinking it, and renovating existing branches to make them more high-tech, Ogle adds. "In the future, when you go into a financial center, it will be like a high-tech type of store. Somebody will greet you at the door, and ask you for your needs," she says. Other topics she touches on in this interview are reaching people who aren't even part of the banking system yet and what a Donald Trump presidency might mean for the bottom line.
New numbers: "Diverse" board members — meaning women and minorities — at more than 1,800 companies are paid 3% to 9% less than their white, male counterparts, according to new research from the University of Missouri and the University of Delaware. It's also uncommon for women and minorities to chair or serve on important committees: They're 3% less likely to serve as chairman or lead director and 5% less likely to chair a standing committee.
Woman's work: Male-dominated factory jobs are shrinking fast while pink-collar jobs, mostly in health care, are rising; and although more than one fifth of U.S. men aren't working, they also aren't running out to become health aides in any great numbers. "When men take these so-called pink-collar jobs, they have more job security and wage growth than in blue-collar work," writes the New York Times. "But they are paid less and feel stigmatized." But perhaps the health care sector is about to lose some jobs?
The imposters: Even Michelle Obama has dealt with imposter syndrome, a condition in which highly skilled individuals, many times women and minorities, deny their ability or competence and live in constant fear of being exposed as a fraud. "There were moments when I had doubts," the former first lady said of being a first-generation college student at Princeton. "At first, I even worried that maybe I just wasn't as smart as some of my classmates." The first lady's experience was recounted this week by Google software engineer Sarah Sachs, who wrote about how Obama helped her flip her imposter syndrome on its head. "I thanked her for being such an amazing mentor to so many women ... she took both my hands, leaned in and said, 'It's you, you're the mentor.' She told me to keep working hard so that I'll be on the podium one day, inspiring other young women. 'You're the one who we should be saying thanks to.'"