Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’: The prospect of a Dodd-Frank rollback is making Marianne Lake happy. “A lot has been done to improve safety and soundness and confidence in financial markets and financial institutions, a lot of which was necessary. However, it is perfectly reasonable and rational — and also normal — after many years, and many many new rules and requirements, to pause and step back and take a look at the entirety of them, individually and together,” the chief financial officer for JPMorgan Chase said during an investor presentation Tuesday. “The industry has come an extremely long way, and the time does feel right to provide more consistency and flexibility.” At the event, Lake shared the bank's wish list, or "principles for responsible regulation." It includes coordination and consistency among agencies and eliminating the "gold-plating" that has made U.S. rules more stringent than others internationally, among other things.

Marianne Lake, CFO of JPMorgan Chase.
Marianne Lake, CFO of JPMorgan Chase. Bloomberg News

Robo-skeptic: JPMorgan Chase’s Mary Callahan Erdoes is still skeptical about robo-advisers. The asset and wealth management head said in her investor presentation Tuesday that the Wealthfronts and Betterments of the bustling digital advice ecosystem have succeeded in a mostly benign market environment, where people will seek human interaction when prices drop and anxiety rises. “Human beings need human beings to explain the world to them: that is our job,” said Erdoes, who is JPMorgan’s CEO of asset management. “Siri is not going to hold your hand and help you to get through these tough markets.” As you may recall, Erdoes has previously expressed skepticism over the value robos provide. The bank, which has been slower than its peers to jump into digital advice, is giving in to the robo trend and launching its own service later this year.

Water your plants: After 60 years in banking, Alice Dittman has a lot of wisdom to share. “Here’s a little story I heard one time about a man who came in and wanted to close his account at his bank,” Dittman, the former chairman and chief executive of Cornhusker Bank in Lincoln, Neb., said in an interview with the local newspaper. “The banker said, ‘May I ask you why?’ And he answered, ‘Because your plants died and it makes me wonder how are you taking care of my money.’” The 86-year-old Dittman, who officially retired in 2013, but remains Cornhusker’s chairman emeritus, said banks must treat customers with respect – and that shines through in every little detail. “One day I saw John (Dittman’s oldest son and Cornhusker’s current chairman) picking up a piece of trash in the parking lot. You have to care about the little things to show people can trust you with the big things.” Dittman also talked about her experiences with innovation in a small bank, why progress for women is synonymous with progress for the bank and her affinity for farmers.

Toxic workplaces: Of 40 applicants for a recent opening at her company — a senior analyst position — only two were women, laments Hazel Moore, chair and co-founder of the investment bank FirstCapital. When she told the head of HR she wanted more female candidates, Moore said he cited some statistics that she finds “profoundly disturbing:” One in four entry level positions in investment banking are filled by women, but at the associate level (year four) their numbers have dwindled to one in 18. After looking into why women are stampeding out the door, Moore concluded that the work culture in the investment banking world is the biggest factor. She called on the industry to address the issue urgently. “Investment banks in general have pretty toxic cultures, and are not very nice places to work,” she said. “Unless the leadership teams in the investment banking industry start to care about and value their junior staff, to engage them and understand their motivations and to work to actively overcome their toxic culture, the women will continue to leave in droves. Moreover they will find it increasingly difficult to attract and retain the top talent, male or female, for whom the lure of money will no longer be enough.”

Remembering Melanie: The banking industry continues to mourn the loss of Melanie Dressel, the longtime president and CEO of Columbia Bank who passed away last month. Thomas Michaud, president and CEO of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, penned a BankThink piece to laud not just her leadership and career success, but her humanity. “Melanie always appreciated those around her and gave credit to those who earned it,” he said. “She was honest and sincere and I will forever remember her going out of her way at our KBW conferences to thank our staff who organized our events. She treated people with respect and frequently spoke about the broader community and how she wanted to make it better. … Melanie Dressel was an all-around exceptional person.”

As one of the few women leading a community bank, Dressel spoke frequently about her experience in banking and the opportunity women have to succeed in the male-dominated industry.
As one of the few women leading a community bank, Dressel spoke frequently about her experience in banking and the opportunity women have to succeed in the male-dominated industry.

A tribute to a mentor in Michigan: Gloria Butler, a Michigan credit union innovator, died Feb. 15. She was 88. Butler was the former CEO of Wyandotte Federal Credit Union and served on the Downriver Credit Union’s executive board before retiring in 1994. “Gloria was one of the first female managers of a credit union Downriver,” wrote Irene Zelenak, the retired manager of Detroit Marathon Employees Federal Credit Union. “She expanded the reach of the Marathon Oil Employees Federal Credit Union in Lincoln Park. When facing a new job with a competing entity, Gloria always recommended that a woman of competent quality would be appointed to fill her vacancy. In her last stint as CEO of Wyandotte … Gloria served as both boss and mentor to dozens of women who found a place for their own banking skills.”

Role call

Citigroup promoted Julie Bell Lindsay to deputy head of its new global regulatory affairs team in Washington, D.C. The team is being led by Kevin Bailey, a former official at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Previously Lindsay was general counsel on Citi’s capital markets and corporate reporting legal team.

Vivienne Artz, general counsel for intellectual property at Citi in the U.K., was named president of Women in Banking and Finance, a networking and development group.

Beyond banking

Natural caregivers?: Research from the Harvard School of Public Health found that female doctors are outperforming their male counterparts. There would be 32,000 fewer patients’ deaths each year if male physicians achieved the same outcomes as female physicians, according to the study, which tracked hospitalized elderly patients for a one-month period. One factor is that female doctors tend to “provide more patient-centered care” than male doctors. And yet, there are significant gender pay gaps among U.S. physicians (on average women are paid 8% less than men).

Speaking of gender pay gaps: A separate study of the gender pay differences for physicians, dentists and lawyers found a much larger gap than 8% for all three professions. The unexplained pay gap between male and female lawyers was the smallest of the three professions, but also grew the most over the 10-year period of the study, increasing from 34% in 1990 to 45% in 2010.

So a big congrats here: Intel achieved 100% pay equality for women and underrepresented minorities in 2016, it disclosed in its most recent diversity and inclusion report. It also achieved promotion parity, increased diverse hires and met its retention goal. Roughly 45% of its new hires in 2016 were of diverse backgrounds, it reported. In addition, Intel said that in 2017, a support service it established, called the WarmLine, for employees to contact when they are considering leaving the company, will help it further improve its inclusion efforts. As regular readers of this newsletter may recall, Intel was one of the first Silicon Valley firms to announce its success with gender pay equality. It did so last spring after a trio of activist investors — Arjuna, Pax, and Trillium — began demanding tech giants disclose data about employee compensation. The activist investors have since started pushing the banking industry to do the same.

Applications for our Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance rankings will be available later this month on our Women in Banking page. To subscribe to American Banker Magazine, which features the annual rankings, click here.

Bonnie McGeer contributed to this report.

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