Perceptions matter: Soros Fund Management's first female chief investment officer, Dawn Fitzpatrick, says on her first day on Wall Street, the men around her began placing bets on how long the then 22-year-old would stay. She proved to be resilient, and says her gender has not made her feel disadvantaged or marginalized. The former senior executive at UBS Asset Management even feels comfortable enough to walk around her office barefoot. But at times she has made an extra effort to show her mostly male colleagues how committed she is. Days after her second child's birth, for example, she flew to a London meeting. "From my perspective, perceptions matter, and it was important for me that I was there," she said. "I didn't want them to think I was anything but focused." In February, George Soros tapped the 47-year-old Fitzpatrick to run his $25 billion family office, and she is not only the first woman to do so, but one of the few women on Wall Street to manage such a large amount of money. Fitzpatrick was named one of our Most Powerful Women in Finance in 2015 and 2016.

Dawn Fitzpatrick, chief investment officer of Soros Fund Management.
Dawn Fitzpatrick, chief investment officer of Soros Fund Management.

The bias of bros: Bonding between a male lender and a male borrower over things like having gone to the same college can result in lending bias, according to a new study. Often the thinking is that collecting soft information like details about hobbies, education, and children helps a lender get to know a borrower better and thus reduces the odds of default. But the research shows that, in cases where soft information is collected, the outcome of loans made by men to men are 12% worse (as measured by events like defaults) than for loans made by men to women. This so-called "interpretation bias" did not happen with female lenders, regardless of the sex of the borrower. "We expected if the borrower and lender were of the same gender, it would mean that they wouldn't effectively screen the soft information, because they would rely on the common bond as a source of trust," said Maria Loumioti, a co-author of the study and a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management. But the study suggests that "interpretation bias" is primarily found between men — and not women.

The small picture: More than half of all credit union CEOs are women, according to a report from Filene Research Institute. But female CEOs are more concentrated at smaller institutions (below $50 million in assets) and men still dominate higher up the asset ladder. Two-thirds (66%) of credit unions with assets below $50 million have female CEOs. That ratio drops to 14% for credit unions with more than $1 billion of assets.

Note to disruptors: "Technology is challenging for most community banks in dealing with their core providers," said Leslie Andersen, the chief executive of the $112 million-asset Bank of Bennington in Nebraska, in this wide-ranging Q&A. "We're really down to just a handful of core providers whose technology is built on 1970 platforms. They have really no economic reason to change, and that puts community banks at a disadvantage with bigger banks. Their bells and whistles are better; their mobile sites are much more user-friendly." The situation also hampers the ability of community banks to innovate, because "you actually have to integrate that innovation with your core system," and the core providers make it expensive and difficult, Andersen said. "I do believe that market is ripe for disruption."

Threatened by a girl: Arturo Di Modica, the artist who sculpted Wall Street's iconic Charging Bull statue, is unhappy about the Fearless Girl statue and threatening to file a suit if she isn't moved. ICYMI, State Street's investment management division installed a statue of a girl facing down the Charging Bull to celebrate International Women's Day and to draw attention to the dearth of women on company boards. Originally scheduled to stand until April 2, she will now remain — by popular demand — until next February as part of a city public art program. Di Modica's lawyer, Norman Siegel, said the girl's presence is copyright infringement and makes the bull "representational of male dominance and Wall Street" instead of "a better America and a better world," as the artist himself describes this sculpture. "We're not saying that it should be moved out of the city" — only that it should be put in another place, Siegel said. Yesterday New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio tweeted, "We wouldn't move the Charging Bull statue if it offended someone. The Fearless Girl is staying put," and "Men who don't like women taking up space are exactly why we need the Fearless Girl."

Role Call

Regions Bank in Birmingham, Ala., has hired Amala Duggirala, formerly the chief technology officer at the online small-business lender Kabbage, as chief information officer.

Zions Bancorp. in Salt Lake City has appointed Barbara Yastine, former CEO of Ally Bank, to its board of directors.

Ripple has recruited Marjan Delatinne away from Swift to be its European sales director. She was previously business director for the global payments innovation initiative at Swift, with which Ripple's cross-border payment system competes.


Culture change: At Wells Fargo, retail banking head Mary Mack's challenge is to rebuild consumer trust and transform the culture from sales oriented to service driven. Mack spoke at our recent Retail Banking conference in Miami, where she discussed how employees reacted to a new incentive pay plan, why the bank stopped calling its branches "stores," and how it now prevents the fraud that caused such a scandal.

It's discrimination: Mark Egan, one of the authors of a study on financial advisers, says an analysis of the data ruled out many of the factors that could account for why those accused of misconduct are treated very differently depending on their gender, with women being fired far more often than men. The analysis showed that the women's missteps are less costly on average than the men's and that the women are less likely to be repeat offenders, for example. This suggests "taste-based discrimination" is the reason for the disparity. And that's just another way to say "bias."

Beyond Banking

Google gap: The U.S. government says Google is underpaying women, a charge at odds with the tech giant's claim it has closed the gender pay gap. The Department of Labor's regional director, Janette Wipper, said in a San Francisco court Friday that there are "systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce." A January lawsuit the Labor Department launched against Google — which is a federal contractor — seeks access to compensation data and related personnel records.

Ambiguous ambition: A forthcoming collection of essays called "Double Bind: Women on Ambition" explores how American women are taught to aim high but keep expectations low. Many of the contributors have self identified as hardworking and perhaps lucky, but not ambitious. Women often view ambition negatively, and with good reason. It is a quality that can hold them back when people perceive them as "bossy" or "off-putting." "Even though I've settled into a life with as much professional fulfillment as personal happiness, I'm still not sure if my ambition is friend or foe," says Marcia Chatelain, a professor of history and African American studies at Georgetown.

Life imitates art: Have you heard about the New Yorker cover that's being replicated by female surgeons around the world?

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