On a new mission: In 2014, JPMorgan Chase brought in Pam Codispoti to develop a credit card for affluent millennials, and she launched the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, which has become something of a cultural phenomenon and a game changer for the credit card industry. Now Codispoti oversees Chase’s 5,200-branch network and plans an overhaul that is meant to make them more appealing to millennials, who make up 61% of the consumer bank’s new customers. She envisions branches as advice centers, similar to Apple’s Genius Bars. “We’re going to make the experience much more high-touch, much more interactive,” Codispoti said.
Job opening at the Fed: The search is on for the successor to William Dudley, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York who plans to retire in mid-2018. Names circulating as possible picks include JPMorgan Chase's Sandie O’Connor, former U.S. Treasury economist Karen Dynan and Northwestern University economist Janice Eberly. The Financial Advisory Roundtable met in November to discuss succession, and women at the meeting stressed the importance of finding a pick that would add diversity to the Fed, said Julia Coronado, president and founder of Macropolicy Perspectives. The bank has hired search firms Spencer Stuart and Bridge Partners, which focuses on diversity, to help with the process.
What’s ahead for fintech: In the new year, look for banks to invest more in blockchain technology, for new fintechs to focus less on developing products for consumers and more on helping businesses with back-end functions and for the “next generation of personal finance” to emerge. So predicts Silicon Valley Bank’s head of payments strategy and solutions, Reetika Grewal. “We’re seeing a lot of new company formation around the B-to-B payment space in a way we haven’t seen before,” Grewal said. “That’s one trend we’ll see a lot more of next year.”
Where the VCs see value: Investors are cooling on consumer-facing fintech. Ask a venture capitalist about what areas are most exciting in the year ahead, you’ll hear more about improving the financial system with all its inefficiencies than helping people manage their money. “We’d be unlikely to invest in a fintech company that’s going to compete against [banks],” said Patricia Kemp, a partner at Oak HC/FT. “That’s a harder round.” Most consumer-facing fintech effectively provides a new interface for the same old functions, according to Rebecca Lynn, Canvas Partners’ cofounder and general partner. “These big banks pay billions of dollars on essentially body shops,” she said.
Then and now: Creating a company has become easier and faster with technology, according to Oak HC/FT’s Patricia Kemp. That means bigger brands with more money to spend aren’t necessarily better. “There’s a much greater acceptance from large, corporate, legacy players to utilize a smaller company for something like fraud or compliance or to outsource customer service,” she said. “Ten to 15 years ago, the attitude was ‘go with IBM, you can't go wrong.’ But today there’s a much greater understanding that we should go with a team of 50 engineers in Flatiron.” In this interview, Kemp discusses how fintech overlaps with the healthcare sector, how to use data more effectively and how investing today compares to the early days of her career.
Graduating to a bigger market: While the digital-only BankMobile has been dedicated to building relationships with millennials in college, Luvleen Sidhu has hinted at plans to evolve beyond that demographic. “I don’t think we need to stay in the student market,” said the president and chief strategy officer of the Customers Bancorp subsidiary. “We’d like to be able to replicate this.” Through its ties to 800 universities, BankMobile opens 300,000 new accounts each year. But Sidhu suggests the business model could extend beyond universities. “We’re in alignment with bank-fintech partnerships, but that’s also a myopic way of looking at the future, which is way beyond partnerships between banks and fintechs, but also between banks and nonbanks; being able to deliver financial services to customers of these nonbanks to create more engagement, loyalty, customer data and additional revenue streams.”
Pilot Bank in Tampa, Fla., has a new president. Rita Lowman, who was previously Pilot’s chief operating officer, succeeds Roy Hellwege, in the role of president. Hellwege will continue as Pilot’s chief executive and acting chairman of the board of directors.
CoBiz Financial in Denver has given Lyne Andrich, its chief financial officer, the additional role of chief operating officer. She is now responsible for accounting, bank operations, finance, human resources, IT and process improvement.
Online small business lender OnDeck has hired Kelly Merrill as senior vice president for finance. She was previously the chief financial officer of GE Capital Real Estate.
Add Umpqua Holdings in Portland, Ore., to the short list of publicly traded banking companies with a female chair. Peggy Fowler, Umpqua’s lead independent director, succeeded Ray Davis in the role of chair, upon his retirement on Dec. 31.
PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh has appointed two new independent directors, expanding its board to 16 members. One is Linda Medler, a retired brigadier general with the U.S. Air Force who has cybersecurity expertise. Meddler is CEO of LA Medler and Associates, which provides cyber-strategy consulting to commercial clients and customers of the U.S. Defense Department. She also was chief information security officer and director of information technology security at Raytheon Missile Systems, before she left that company in December. The other is former federal banking regulator Martin Pfinsgraff. He retired last year as senior deputy comptroller for large-bank supervision at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
Bank of America has appointed Maria Zuber to its board of directors, citing her technology and risk management experience. Zuber is a geophysics professor and the vice president for research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She also serves as a senior research scientist for NASA and chairs the National Science Board, to which she was appointed as a member by President Obama in 2013.
In case you missed it
A lot of #MeToo in asset management: In the Financial Times’ fourth annual Women in Asset Management survey, 32% of the 582 respondents said they had been subjected to harassment in the workplace in 2017, compared to 20% in 2014. It’s hard to say whether that increase reflects deteriorating working conditions in the industry or if women are more motivated to report harassment in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the FT notes. It ran 24 anonymous testimonies of women in asset management that detail how their views have been ignored or belittled at work and how they have become excluded from networking opportunities or sidelined after having children. “My experience after 25 years is that pay rarely reflects contribution; it reflects pushiness, bolshiness, threats, chumminess, what you can get away with,” said one senior woman at a small U.K. asset manager. “Even a couple of years of being left behind on pay raises can put you on a different trajectory for the rest of your career. Quieter men lose out, as do ethnic minorities, not just women.”
Time’s Up!: Dozens of Hollywood’s most powerful have donated to the Time’s Up legal defense fund to help less privileged women — such as workers at factories, farms, restaurants and hotels — protect themselves from sexual misconduct and the fallout from reporting it. One hope is to defuse criticism that the #MeToo movement has been dominated by the accusers of high-profile men, while overlooking the troubles of working-class women. And one of the first test cases will be Melanie Kohler, who, Slate writes, bridges the two worlds that Time’s Up aims to bring together: Hollywood privilege and women who lack the resources to fight back. Kohler is a small-business owner who is being sued by director Brett Ratner for defamation because of a Facebook post she wrote accusing him of sexually assaulting her 10 years ago. The post, which was taken down in less than two hours after a threat by Ratner’s lawyer, went up a few days prior to the Los Angeles Times publishing a piece in which six other women, including actress Olivia Munn, leveled similar accusations. Kohler is the only woman who Ratner opted to sue, and she now has a legal team of heavy hitters, including Roberta Kaplan, who led the Supreme Court case that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act. The Time’s Up fund has amassed more than $14 million so far, with the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Meryl Streep and Shonda Rhimes donating $500,000 each. As part of the overall awareness effort, many of Hollywood’s elite are planning to wear black at Sunday’s Golden Globes to show their solidarity with victims of sexual misconduct. An early breakdown of actresses and agencies participating in the legal defense fund is here. Read the movement’s open letter pledging to support working-class women, which ran in a full-page New York Times ad on New Year’s Day, here.
It’s the law: Iceland has become the first country to require equal pay for men and women. Companies and government agencies employing at least 25 people now have to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies or face fines if they can’t prove parity. The Icelandic government plans to completely eradicate the wage gap by 2020.
Rulers of the universe: Meet the women who run the Star Wars universe. These 11 writers and artists discuss the minutiae of storm troopers and link the franchise’s narratives whether they’re on television, games, theme parks, publishing, merchandise or film. Kathleen Kennedy founded the group in 2012, when she succeeded George Lucas as president of Lucasfilm, and put Kiri Hart in charge of the unit. Hart’s first move was to make the story group entirely female, starting with Rayne Roberts and Carrie Beck. “As a writer I was very hungry to create female characters who felt real, and I was interested in telling stories from an outsider’s perspective. There wasn’t a lot of receptivity to the things I really wanted to write about at the time,” Hart said, recalling Hollywood in the early 2000s. “There is increasing openness to those things now, which makes me really hopeful.”
One closing note: Let’s make 2018 great
Oh, what a year: Commentators are calling 2017 the year of the woman. But Slate argues we’ve been there and done that, as it reviews all the times in the 97 years since the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote that people have proclaimed the year of the woman. Certainly, 2017 was the year of women’s anger – both on and off screen; it was “the year of red-robed Handmaids, of women seething over goblets of white wine by the sea, and women splashing their rage across billboards for everyone to see.” In politics, women have filled town hall meetings, organized rallies and signed up to run for office in record numbers over the last 11 months. The November 2017 election was full of groundbreaking milestones: Minneapolis voters chose a trans woman of color to serve on the city council, voters in Charlotte, N.C. elected a black woman as mayor for the first time in its history, and women made up 75% of successful challengers in Virginia’s state legislature. Here’s an inspiring roundup of women who took office across the country. The 2018 election cycle likely will feature even more women running for office. “We don't need another Year of the Woman,” writes Barbara Lee, president of The Barbara Lee Family Foundation, which advances women’s equality and representation in American politics and contemporary art. “We need progress for women every year.” She called for keeping up the momentum, so that 2018 is remembered “as not just a year for women, but as the year that women turned the tide.”
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Thanks for reading and have a happy new year!