A big deal: Shaza Andersen founded WashingtonFirst in Reston, Va., in 2004, grew it to $2.1 billion in assets as president and chief executive, and is now selling it to Sandy Spring Bancorp in Olney, Md., for $489 million in stock, which equates to an impressive 256% of its tangible book value. By dollar value, it is largest banking deal in the Mid-Atlantic region so far this year and ranks among the 10 largest in the country, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Andersen, who is expected to join the board of the $5.2 billion-asset Sandy Spring, has been part of our Most Powerful Women rankings several times. You may recall she also got some publicity a few years ago when she sent out a companywide email stating that employees who did not deposit paychecks into a WashingtonFirst account would be required to pick up paper checks from her office.

Shaza Andersen
Shaza Andersen

Doing damage control with the help of data: Wells Fargo’s chief marketing officer, Jamie Moldafsky, shared how it is using data to adjust its advertising message in the wake of the account-opening scandal. “We knew there really isn’t business as usual when you’re in this sort of position,” she said. “There’s definitely data and insight behind that, but it’s also intuition. You want to be careful not to hurt the brand.” Wells Fargo assesses what consumers think through focus group research and daily online polling. It also uses artificial intelligence to develop different advertising messages for various customer niches. “The right thing to do here may be to understand that we might have slightly lower results for a little bit, but that we are actually building the brand back for longer-term viability and strength.” ICYMI, American Banker also reported on how Moldafsky is repairing the bank’s reputation a few weeks ago.

Grateful for the grunt work: If Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman hadn't gone “all in” on a project no one wanted early in her career, her life today might be different. She recounted the time Nasdaq gave her her first product to oversee, the Mutual Fund Quotation Service, "an antiquated system with a neglected client base that no one more senior than me at the company seemed to think had much of a future.” Eventually, the project took off and is thriving today. "The success got me noticed in the organization, and set me on a path to run Nasdaq's data products division," Friedman said. In any business, execution is just as important as ideas, she said. It’s easy early in one’s career to feel resentful and discouraged having to work hard until dues are paid, but that time is also an opportunity to excel. She also said she has plenty of stories in which she went all in and failed anyway — and that those scenarios have been just as valuable as her wins.

Dreamin’: An investment banker from Portugal, Luiza Cristina Fernandes Palma, is proposing that banks, when considering whether to make a loan, evaluate whether the prospective borrower has achieved gender pay parity among its employees as part of the credit decision. “We are sensitive enough to create fishing nets that don’t trap dolphins. I think it is only fair to create a social order where women don’t have to fight for something as basic as parity in pay,” Palma said. She plans to bring her idea to the World Bank in October, with the hope that the global banking sector will embrace it.

Role call

UBS' asset-management arm has hired Suni Harford as its head of investments. Previously, she was Citigroup’s regional head of markets for North America. Harford will replace Dawn Fitzpatrick, who left the bank earlier this year to run Soros Fund Management as chief investment officer. Both Harford and Fitzpatrick are on our list of Most Powerful Women.

Suni Harford is a managing director at Citigroup.
Suni Harford


Citigroup’s Gulru Atak will become head of its Dublin innovation lab. She is currently head of the Treasury and Trade Solutions’ group for Turkey and other countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Bank of Ireland named Francesca McDonagh to succeed Richie Boucher as CEO when he steps down in October. McDonagh, who will become the bank’s first female CEO, was previously HSBC’s head of retail banking and wealth management for the U.K. and Europe.

In case you missed it

Copy this idea: The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, which oversees $450 billion in assets, says it is instructing members to vote against any incumbent director sitting on an all-male board during this year's annual meeting season in October. "They have had more than enough time to get their house in order and have failed to do so,” said ACSI chief executive Louise Davidson of companies who lack diversity on their boards. "There's a variety of excuses. Boards have said to us that they're just really happy with their board, they've used the argument that they appoint on merit. … It seems odd to me, if you appoint on merit, that you end up with a whole lot of blokes of a similar age and similar background." At least 13 companies in the ASX 200 have all-male boards

Beyond banking

Female entrepreneurs get penalized: A group of Swedish researchers recorded the conversations of venture capitalists evaluating potential investments, and one of the most interesting things they discovered had nothing to do with their initial motive in doing the research. They found that the language used to describe male and female entrepreneurs was profoundly different and affected whether they got funding. The VCs (two women and five men) praised aggressive or arrogant qualities in men, but equated excitement from the women with emotional shortcomings. They also viewed the young men as showing promise and the young women as inexperienced. On average, female entrepreneurs were awarded 25% of the funding amount they requested versus 52% for the men. About 53% of the women had their applications dismissed, compared with 38% of the men.

I won’t: Women just aren’t into the ‘marriageable male’ anymore, economists say. Historically, bursts of prosperity among blue-collar men have reduced the share of kids born to unwed parents. But a new study shows that is changing, which researcher Melissa Kearney attributes to a cultural transformation. “Women couldn’t be very choosy in the past — they had to be married for both social and economic reasons,” she said. Until 1974, for example, banks could require women to get a husband’s permission to apply for a credit card. “Now the social context has shifted,” she said. “They can raise the bar.”

American Banker is now accepting nominations for the Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance rankings, the community impact and lifetime achievement awards, and the top teams.

Bonnie McGeer contributed to this report.

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