Our celebration of the Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance had to be the most fun master class on how to have a successful career ever.

All of the dynamic keynote speakers offered at least some advice in their speeches — on everything from how to build confidence and credibility to how to build a strong team.

Bank of America’s Cathy Bessant, who ranked No. 1 on the banking list, urged the honorees to be more vocal in their support of other women. “I have to admit, I’ve had those moments myself where I was reluctant to be the woman in the room pulling for other women,” she said. “Those days have to be over.”

JPMorgan Chase’s Mary Callahan Erdoes, who ranked No. 1 on the finance list, had the funniest story of the evening, recounting what happened on one of the many working weekends during the financial crisis when she had to bring her young children to the office with her. You can read about it in this overview of the event, which also includes video snippets from the speakers.

Mary Navarro of Huntington and Linda Verba of TD Bank accepted Lifetime Achievement awards, and both shared some of the most important lessons they learned along the way about team-building.

"Don't think you are going to change people," Navarro said in her remarks.

"Surround yourself with people who don't look like you," Verba said in hers.

Outside the Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance gala held at Cipriani's in Lower Manhattan.
The gala for the Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance took place Thursday night at Cipriani Wall Street. Elena Olivo

Stephen Steinour, Huntington's chief executive, took the stage to introduce Navarro, and at least half a dozen other CEOs also dotted the crowd. They included TD’s Greg Braca, Ally’s Jeff Brown, HSBC’s Pat Burke, U.S. Bank’s Andy Cecere and KeyCorp’s Beth Mooney, along with the incoming CEO at BMO Financial Group, Darryl White. Manolo Sanchez, the chairman at BBVA Compass, attended as well.

Earlier in the day, honorees attended a special conference exclusively for them, and the speakers included the actress Geena Davis, who talked about the research her Institute for Gender in Media did on how bankers are portrayed in films.

And on Wednesday, the honorees enjoyed an evening of cocktails and conversation at Milk Studios, which you can check out in this slideshow.

Find more videos and all the most recent Most Powerful Women coverage here.


An emphasis on straight talk: Ellen Alemany is still relatively new as the chairman and CEO at CIT Group, and she is working on creating the kind of culture she wants. “We have to be realistic, culture doesn't change overnight,” she said in an interview with American Banker. Her efforts include enforcing a set of six core behaviors, including “straight talk,” in places where CIT felt it hasn't been doing a good job. The intention is to underscore the importance of accountability, risk management and customer focus. Alemany also has quarterly town halls with employees. Listen to a podcast of her full interview with American Banker here, in which she also discusses loan demand and the sentiment of middle-market businesses. Alemany is No. 3 on the banking list this year.

In other news…

Pay dispute: State Street Corp. is getting even more backlash over the Fearless Girl statue this morning, after news broke that it agreed to pay $5 million to settle a complaint that it paid more than 300 women less than male colleagues in similar roles. The U.S. Department of Labor uncovered the alleged discrepancies in a 2012 audit. State Street said it disagrees with the findings of the audit.

The thanks you get: Wells Fargo is extending a 6-year-old fight with a whistleblower, despite a government order to immediately reinstate the former employee. Claudia Ponce de Leon was fired in 2011, three weeks after she called the company’s ethics line to report that colleagues were opening fake accounts in order to meet sales goals. Wells has maintained that she was fired because she engaged in inappropriate behavior, not because of her alert about phony accounts. Ponce de Leon has denied the charges, and the Labor Department has sided with her.

Shake it up: Nasdaq has launched a new cloud-based portal called Boardvantage to support the sharing of confidential information between corporate executives and board members via platforms like iPads. Since Adena Friedman started as chief executive at the beginning of the year, Nasdaq has ventured outside its marquee businesses of stock trading and listing through acquisitions such as analytics provider eVestment and software company Sybenetix. "We intend to use our strengths in advanced marketplace technology and information analytics, coupled with our deep understanding of market dynamics, to provide actionable intelligence to corporate executives and boards," Friedman said.

Business champions: Cate Luzio, HSBC’s global head of international subsidiary banking, and Jean Wynn, BNY Mellon’s global head of corporate banking and public finance, have earned spots on the top 10 “Global Champions of Women in Business” list compiled by the Financial Times and workplace diversity advocacy group HERoes. Luzio is a repeat honoree of American Banker’s rankings and is on our Women to Watch list this year.

Role call

Pam Joseph, president and chief operating officer of TSYS, has resigned — 17 months after joining the company.

SoFi’s top technology executive, June Ou, plans to leave the firm, though her departure date is yet to be determined. Ou, who is the wife of SoFi’s ousted CEO, Mike Cagney, is chief technology officer and vice president of engineering. She has worked at the online lender since 2012.

Citigroup has appointed Leslie Ireland to its board. Ireland is a former assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Treasury Department and previously worked for the Central Intelligence Agency.

In case you missed it

Rumor mill: Dealbreaker is excited about the unconfirmed and unacknowledged prospect of Jamie Dimon running for U.S. president and handing the JPM reins to Marianne Lake. “I should brag, too, by the way, 50% of the operating community is now women,” Dimon told Andrew Ross Sorkin at the DeliveringAlpha Conference last month. “Just promoted Lori Beer to run technology and Robin Leopold, the head of HR. So we’re really doing a great job. Because they’re good. Not because they’re women, by the way.” After its analysis of why it would be Lake and not Mary Callahan Erdoes, Dealbreaker concludes: “Shattering a glass ceiling on his way out the door would be the ultimate Dimonian power move, and it would serve him well in the cauldron of bullshit identity politics that will be the 2020 election. Now he just needs to convince his running mate Lloyd Blankfein to find an equally ‘woke' heir apparent.” You can read the full dissection and interpretation here.

Bonnie McGeer contributed to this report.

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