Wells Fargo hands the mop to Duke: Wells Fargo named vice chairman Elizabeth Duke to succeed Stephen Sanger as chairman on Jan. 1, making her the first woman to serve in that role at a large U.S. banking company. Duke began her career as a teller in the 1970s and went on to become a community bank executive, the first woman to chair the American Bankers Association since its founding in 1875, and a Fed governor in August 2008, at the peak of the financial crisis. “Walking into the middle of a crisis is not new to me,” she told Bloomberg. With executives already enacting a plan to overhaul the bank, “it’ll be my job to communicate between the board and management, and to make sure that our oversight is as strong as it can possibly be.” But questions remain about whether Duke, who has been on Wells Fargo's board since January 2015, is the right person to lead a culture change there. “This superficial change in leadership at Wells Fargo isn't enough to restore the trust and confidence of the American public," said Rep. Maxine Waters, the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee. "Duke was a member of the Wells Fargo board during numerous scandals and failed to rein in the bank's rampant consumer abuses.” Duke was rumored to be a likely contender for the chairman spot last week. Cynthia Milligan and Susan Swenson, who joined the board in the 1990s, will step down along with Sanger.
Leading a market transformation: The business world wants the benefits of distributed ledgers but worries about security, control, privacy, performance and other issues. JPMorgan Chase’s blockchain program leader, Amber Baldet, insists there’s a big opportunity to share information while mitigating all of these issues — using blockchains and distributed ledgers. "Information sharing is what powers business at this point," she said. In financial services, “there's the added opportunity to transfer value and digital assets across these systems, which could revolutionize the way banking and capital markets and all our payment systems work in the future.” Even so, the industry has a ways to go before it’s blockchain-ready. “Enterprise adoption and transformation of existing industries doesn't happen just because a technology falls in people's laps. We’re spending more time thinking about what market transformation means. The first things we see move to production will probably be more lift-and-drop of existing market models leveraging the new technology to achieve additional efficiency.” Baldet was named to Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list this morning.
Automation fans: JPMorgan Chase has extended its pilot project with OnDeck another four years. The partnership allows the bank to automate the pre-approval process for online small-business loans of up to $200,000, a product it has branded as Chase Business Quick Capital. “The pilot was incredibly successful from the standpoint of improving customer experience dramatically,” said Julie Kimmerling, who heads the product for Chase.
Another Silicon Valley hot spot: Social Finance, a millennial-focused startup that refinances student loans and offers mortgages, is the latest tech darling to have gender issues flare up. Brandon Charles has sued SoFi, alleging that he was fired because he called out instances of sexual harassment that he witnessed. In a lawsuit filed last week, Charles said that he saw his manager inject “explicit sexual innuendo and statements into normal workplace communications,” and that that manager would also refer to one female employee “by way of lewd, sexualized gestures intended to emphasize her physical appearance.” Charles emailed three supervisors about the harassment he had witnessed. They fired him a few weeks later, saying that they found his complaints “devoid of merit” and that alerting his supervisors was outside his “appropriate duties,” according to the lawsuit. A SoFi spokesman has said Charles’ claims were “investigated in depth by the company and found to have no merit. We will vigorously defend ourselves against any claims otherwise.”
Arbitration exploration: The always outspoken Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is asking 16 big banks to take a public position on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s arbitration rule, which was released on July 19. The rule prohibits certain arbitration agreements that block customers from seeking class action status. Many Republicans oppose the rule and the House has already passed a measure to overturn it, despite not having Democratic support to do so. The Senate has until November to pass the measure as well. Clauses about arbitration agreements are often included in consumer financial documents. Warren asked the bank executives in a letter how they use arbitration agreements and, if they do, which products they use them for. The deadline she gave banks to respond is Sept. 1. If the comments on the article linked above are any indication, Warren is unlikely to hear anything back.
A PR crisis for banks: The chief executive of the Australian Bankers' Association, Anna Bligh, said the money-laundering scandal at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country’s largest lender, has damaged public perception of the entire banking sector. "When something happens in one bank, it inevitably has some roll-on effect," she said. Commonwealth has been accused of running afoul of anti-money-laundering laws more than 50,000 times.
JPMorgan Chase has announced that Robin Leopold will become head of human resources in February, succeeding John Donnelly. She also will become the fourth woman on JPMorgan’s operating committee (following Marianne Lake, Mary Callahan Erdoes and Stacey Friedman). Leopold currently heads human resources for the corporate and investment bank. She joined the company in 2010 after more than 20 years in HR at Citigroup. Donnelly is going to become a vice chairman and senior adviser to Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon.
PNC has appointed Debra Cafaro to its board of directors. Cafaro is chairman of the board and CEO of Ventas, a seniors housing and health care firm.
National mortgage lender Waterstone Mortgage in Pewaukee, Wis., promoted Kerry Wirth to chief operating officer. She previously served as senior vice president of loan operations.
Eastern Bank in Lynn, Mass., promoted Barbara Heinemann to the role of consumer banking head, overseeing its retail and mortgage businesses and its customer service center. Heinemann previously served as senior director of enterprise risk management.
Smiley face: German Chancellor Angela Merkel defied assumptions about women and their emotions in a conversation in which she revealed her favorite emoji is the “relaxed” smiley face, Politico reports. The “side-eye virtuoso,” as Quartz describes her, said in a conversation about global affairs, “When things go right, I even add a little heart.” Research shows that people who use emojis at work are perceived as less competent and that when emails include smiley faces people are more likely to assume the sender is a woman. “After all, emoji and exclamation points are another form of emotional labor — the digital version of the smiles and nods that women are conditioned to employ from childhood, in order to comfort those around us,” the Quartz article says.
Where the streets have no female names: Most Manhattan streets are named after men. But here are some of the few named for women.
Sarah Wynn contributed to this report.
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