A Square fight: Square wants to become more like a bank, but it has a lot of opposition. The payments processor announced that it is applying for an industrial loan charter, and community bankers promptly and loudly objected. But Jacqueline Reses, Square’s head of lending, said it does not think of banks as competitors. In an interview with American Banker, she said Square is focused on helping small businesses that generally don’t qualify for credit from traditional financial institutions. More than 67% of Square’s customers can't get financing anywhere, “and so we are their sole source of financing,” she said. “We think that enables us to serve an underserved market in a way that very few others have.” In the interview she expands on why Square is getting into lending, how it uses alternative data to support lending decisions and what kind of data points it uses. She also touches on who Square considers to be competitors — “if you want to call them that” — and the uneven regulatory playing field between fintech companies and banks.
Amazon state of mind: Texas Capital Bank’s chief information officer, Amy Evins, just joined the company last year, but already she has had a major impact. Texas Capital has revamped its online banking experience and infused it with a customer-first attitude — an industry trend that many attribute to “Amazonification.” “When we started using Amazon, there wasn't that 'one click' thing. Now, it’s one click,” Evins said. “When you think about online banking, it's the same concept. All of our experiences are informed by whatever you do at home. You want that same ease and fluidness wherever it makes sense.” The online banking revamp at Texas Capital began last year and was completed last month. Now, the team is constantly improving the process and making it more efficient, Evins said. “We talk to clients all the time — ‘you like this, but you think this part is clunky, so what can we do to enhance the experience?’”
Here’s why you should take the bigger job: IEX, an exchange that will compete with NYSE and Nasdaq, won approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission in June and, if all goes according to Sara Furber’s plan, it’ll launch next month. Furber, the head of listings at IEX, is a former Morgan Stanley managing director and 20-year Wall Street veteran poised to become one of the industry’s most high-profile women. Women are often reluctant to move up the corporate ladder, because of the sacrifices to their personal life that they expect it will entail, she said. But take it from her, more responsibility at work can actually translate to more freedom — both in the office and beyond. “I assumed the higher-profile, more senior position I would have, the less control I would have to manage the life I wanted outside of work,” she said. “One of the biggest things I wish someone had told me is it’s inversely correlated. The higher-profile, more responsibility roles, the more flexibility you have to structure your life the way you want. You have better people working for you, you have more authority, you are setting when the meetings are, what the agenda is. That control is really empowering. Nobody looks at me for going to a parent-teacher conference. I don’t think that level of autonomy exists at lower levels. Whether you are a man or a woman.”
Cracking down on the credit bureaus: In a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., encouraged Democratic and Republican senators to join forces and “fight back” against Equifax, in the wake of its massive data breach. Legislation she proposed with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, would give people more control over how credit reporting companies like Equifax, TransUnion and Experian use their personal data. For example, the legislation would require them to freeze consumer credit files upon request free of charge (something they currently charge a fee to do). This would limit the credit bureaus’ ability to sell individuals’ information to other companies. “Equifax doesn’t pay you when they sell your data and you shouldn’t have to pay Equifax to keep them from selling it,” said Warren, who plans to introduce further measures to rein in credit bureaus.
Get a mentor: Men used to balk at the idea of a woman handling all their commercial banking needs, Shelley Drake recalls. But the outlook for women in banking has improved in the decades since she first started her career, said Drake, who has risen through the ranks at M&T Bank in Buffalo, N.Y., and is now president and chief executive of the M&T Charitable Foundation. “At the time, it was unusual for a woman to be in lending,” she said. “Times have changed dramatically, fortunately. There are lots and lots of jobs open now to anyone.” But women still need good mentorship and support, she said. “I think mentoring is one of the best things that can happen to someone, either being mentored or mentoring someone else,” she said. “Not everyone is fortunate enough in a career to have a mentor; it just doesn’t happen that often. But it’s a very special relationship and something that can really move you forward.”
Workplaces women like: The Great Place to Work Institute surveyed more than 400,000 women to determine which U.S. companies have a good work culture from their perspective. Financial services companies in the top 10 include Edward Jones (No. 3), Pinnacle Financial Partners (No. 6) — which also made American Banker’s fifth annual ranking of the Best Banks to Work For — and Navy Federal Credit Union (No. 8). One characteristic that helps make these companies so great, according to the institute’s director of content, Jessica Rohman, and certification program manager, Tabitha Russell, is that they don't assume women will leave as soon as they have families. Making sure women do not feel marginalized actually has more impact on job satisfaction than benefits like flexible schedules, the findings suggest. Women who said they were treated as full team members reported being five times more likely to plan long-term careers at their businesses, compared with colleagues who did not feel this way.
The Senate on Thursday confirmed Pam Patenaude as the deputy secretary at HUD. Patenaude served at the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 2001 to 2007, first as assistant deputy secretary for field policy and management and later as the agency’s assistant secretary for community, planning and development.
Tammy Finley has been appointed to serve on the boards of American National Bankshares and its bank unit, American National Bank and Trust. She will be up for election by shareholders when the term ends in May. Finley is the general counsel and corporate secretary at Advanced Auto Parts.
Synovus Financial Corp. has added Diana Murphy to its board of directors, upping the number of female directors to three. Murphy, a managing director at the private equity firm Rocksolid Holdings, also serves on one of Synovus’ advisory boards. (Joining advisory boards can be a way for women to prepare themselves for director positions, Susan Stautberg, co-founder of WomenCorporateDirectors, has said in a BankThink article, where she offers some advice to women who want to get on corporate boards.)
Can you hear me now?: Last week in the White House, President Trump had a meeting with advisers and lawmakers in which House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the only woman in the room, tried to answer a question twice. She was spoken over both times. “Does anybody listen to women when they speak around here?” she said. The exchange got a lot of attention in social media.
How to conquer the world: Lena Waithe picked up an Emmy this week, becoming the first black woman to win an Emmy for Writing in a Comedy Series, for her work on “Master of None.” She accepted the award with co-writer Aziz Ansari. "The things that make us different, those are our superpowers. Every day when you walk out the door, put on your imaginary cape, and go out there and conquer the world," she said. "Because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren't in it. … Thank you for embracing a little Indian boy from South Carolina and a little queer black girl from the south side of Chicago." You can find a video clip of Emmy firsts here.
It’s almost time! Our rankings of the Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance will be online Monday morning. You’ll find the results on our Women in Banking page when they are posted.
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