Congratulations, again, Beth Mooney: KeyCorp’s chairman and chief executive, Beth Mooney, is American Banker’s Banker of the Year for 2017. One factor in her selection is her handling of Key’s $4.1 billion merger with First Niagara Financial Group. Though critics worry that Key overpaid for First Niagara – one called the deal "a ticking time bomb of value destruction” — Mooney has never wavered in her belief that the acquisition was the right move for her organization and its shareholders in the long term. "We will be judged by shareholder metrics, but that starts with doing the right things, the right way," said Mooney. "If we really put our customers, our employees, our communities first, do the right things by them, then our shareholders win.” Mooney topped our rankings of the Most Powerful Women in Banking in 2013, 2014 and 2015, becoming the inaugural member of our Hall of Fame in 2016.

Beth Mooney, chairman and CEO of KeyCorp.
Beth Mooney, chairman and CEO of KeyCorp. David Yellen

Seven years after Sheila Bair: The chief legal officer for Fifth Third Bancorp, Jelena McWilliams, will be nominated as the next chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the White House said late Thursday. McWilliams would succeed FDIC Chair Martin Gruenberg, whose term expired this month. She was previously chief counsel for former Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., between 2015 and 2017. She also spent three years as an attorney at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. The last female FDIC chair was Sheila Bair, who left in 2011.

CFPB showdown: Employees at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau returned to work after the Thanksgiving holiday unclear who the agency’s acting director was. Before Richard Cordray exited on Friday, he named Leandra English, the agency's chief of staff, to succeed him temporarily; but President Trump selected Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to head the agency until Congress confirms the next director. A Trump-appointed federal judge settled the issue on Tuesday, denying a request by English to block the Mulvaney appointment and declaring Mulvaney the legal interim head. Privately, many CFPB employees were upset by Cordray’s choice, questioning why he would designate a 34-year-old chief of staff with no enforcement, supervisory, or legal experience to head the embattled agency.

Open mic night: Borrowing from the startup world and some popular TV shows, Citigroup is encouraging employees to pitch innovative ideas to a panel of senior execs who could give them a green light to pursue the projects they propose. The program is called D10X, which stands for “Discover 10 times.” “D10X functions a lot like a venture capital firm,” said Vanessa Colella, Citi’s chief innovation officer, who is also head of Citi Ventures and runs the D10X program. “If you’ve ever watched ‘Shark Tank’ or ‘Dragon’s Den,’ where people are pitching their ideas, our employees are given the same opportunity to come and pitch their ideas to senior management, and if the idea seems like something that could be interesting to pursue, it goes through the D10X process.” Citi has more than 200 employee “founders” working on 80 startup ideas across all of Citi’s businesses, and more than 1,200 employees have been involved in some element of D10X.

Surprise bidder: Maria Contreras-Sweet, founder of the Latino-focused ProAmerica Bank and the former head of the Small Business Administration under President Obama, has submitted an offer to acquire Weinstein Co. She said in a letter to the board of directors that she hopes to be executive chairwoman of a majority-female board heading the studio. She also wants to set up a fund for those harmed by Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct and develop a mediation process to reach settlements.

Share fair: Fintech companies say banks are violating the spirit of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s data-sharing principles by working with only certain third parties. “Right now it feels like financial institutions are cherry-picking the providers with whom they want to work,” said Kathryn Petralia, co-founder and chief operating officer of the online small-business lender Kabbage. “We have no idea what the backroom deal is on any of those transactions and it feels paternalistic, like the banks are telling their customers, ‘We know what’s good for you more than you do; you should only share your data with these people with whom we have a deal.’” The CFPB data-sharing principles don’t explicitly say that banks should work with everyone equally, but suggest financial institutions should work with all trusted third parties.

Setting the tone: Traditional lenders should demand that online companies they work with do a better job of protecting consumer privacy, according to Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard. Banks often pay these companies for the customer data they collect. As a result, “banks have considerable influence,” Brainard said. “Banks have a stake in ensuring that their vendors and third-party service providers act appropriately, that consumers are protected and treated fairly, and that the banks’ reputations aren’t exposed to unnecessary risk.”

Democratizing data: Intrinio is a female-led startup that lets algorithmic traders and banks pick the types of company and market data they want to use, rather than pay a large monthly fee for a broad, terminal-based service. It recently partnered with Nasdaq to include the exchange’s real-time data feeds in its financial data marketplace. “We have clients that leverage our data to build apps,” which may be similar to what is shown on a Bloomberg terminal, said Rachel Carpenter, co-founder and CEO of Intrinio. “But our mission is just to make raw data feeds available.” Under the agreement with Nasdaq, the exchange streams raw, unfiltered data to Quodd, an Intrinio partner that normalizes the data. Quodd built a WebSocket infrastructure to serve up the data. “We believe WebSockets are the way of the future, a simple way to have two-way communications,” Carpenter said. “They’re easy to get up and running which, true to our mission, will help put this data in more hands faster. With just three lines of code, you can access the data.”


Update on Citi’s international strategy: Citigroup has been operating in many countries south of the U.S. border for more than a century. But these days it is busy exiting the retail banking sector in all but Mexico, where its recently rebranded Citibanamex unit has a 20% market share. Jane Fraser, the CEO of Citigroup Latin America, explains how changes Citi has made to its business model in her region are working so far. She also touches on the unusual popularity of retail bank branches in Mexico, the digital push Citi is planning there next year, and what she sees as the three biggest differences between running a Latin American bank and a U.S. one – diversity, volatility and ethics.

Role call

Citigroup has hired Jayne Opperman as its new head of technology for the Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa regions of its global consumer bank. Opperman, who will report to Gavin Michael in her role at Citi, was previously the general manager of business integration at Westpac. She is the third female tech executive hired by Citi in the last month.

Dime Community Bank in Brooklyn, N.Y., has hired Nancy Tomich as head of residential lending. She was previously managing director of residential mortgage services at Astoria Financial, which was acquired by Sterling Bancorp this year.

Three new directors are joining the Wells Fargo board effective Jan. 1, as part of an overhaul in the wake of the phony-accounts scandal. Two of the newly elected are women – Celeste Clark, a former Kellogg executive, and Maria Morris, a former MetLife executive. The third is Theodore Craver Jr., the former CEO of the public utility Edison International. Retiring from the board are longtime members Cynthia Milligan and Susan Swenson, along with the chairman, Stephen Sanger. Elizabeth Duke, currently the vice chair, will succeed Sanger in his role at yearend. Evercore analysts pointed out that the addition of Clark is of particular importance given her background in public policy, sustainability, and regulatory affairs. Once the three incoming appointees officially join, six of the 16 Wells board members will be newcomers.

Financial Institutions Inc., the parent company of Five Star Bank, has added Dawn Burlew to its board of directors, while increasing the size of the board from 11 members to 12. Burlew, the director of business development at Corning Enterprises, is the third woman on the board.

Beyond banking

How to end sexual harassment: Companies should hire and promote more women if they want to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace, according to an article in the Harvard Business Review. That is more effective than cosmetic fixes like investing in anti-harassment training and setting up grievance procedures. Harassment flourishes when men hold the majority of managerial or executive positions; they’re more likely to “tolerate, sanction, or even expect sexualized treatment of workers, which can lead to a culture of complicity,” write professors Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev. Harassment tends to happen less where women are in charge, and when it does happen, the companies are less likely to tolerate it or sweep it under the rug. The outcome after complaints are raised is a major factor in whether sexual harassment ends or continues to flourish. At least one-third of people who file harassment complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission say that, after complaining to their company, they were demoted, moved to lousy jobs or shifts, fired, raped, or further harassed. Plus, women who file harassment complaints end up more likely to leave their jobs, and others follow when they see complaints handled poorly. The harassers tend to stay in their jobs.

Trust the doctor?: Surgeon referrals reflect a lot of gender bias, according to a study conducted by Harvard University researcher Heather Sarsons. Sarson studied male-female surgeon pairs who were referred by a given doctor and had performed the same surgery on similar patients. When a female surgeon conducted an unsuccessful surgery, referrals dropped 34%. There was no such downturn for male surgeons after an unsuccessful surgery. Conversely, when male surgeons performed surgery successfully, referrals doubled, while rising only 72% for women.

Troubleshooter: In 2007 entrepreneur Anne Wojcicki was just starting her genetics company, 23andMe, and her marriage to Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Just six years later, both were falling apart. But perseverance runs in Wojcicki’s DNA, and she handled big trouble with the Food and Drug Administration effectively while also dealing with the end of her marriage, as detailed in this uplifting New York Times profile. “This was one of those situations where there’s two aspects. A divorce and the FDA. There was no workaround in either,” Wojcicki said. “So it was one of the first times in my life where you have to accept, you have to actually change. Like, I need to come up with a different way of approaching both of these relationships.” Among the more amusing details that other moms might appreciate: She sometimes lets her kids wear their clothes to bed to save time in the morning, and so she can pack more lightly during summer travel, “I’d have the kids bathe in their clothes and then they change into something else. And then their clothes are clean for the next day. Versus the hotel laundry, which is so expensive.”

Want to sign up for this weekly newsletter? Go to our women in banking homepage, scroll down to where it says “join our mailing list,” and type in your email address.

Tina Snieder and Bonnie McGeer contributed to this report.

BankThink submission guidelines

BankThink is American Banker's platform for informed opinion about the ideas, trends and events reshaping financial services. View our detailed submission criteria and instructions.