Knowledge isn't enough: Income volatility is a persistent problem for millions of U.S. households, and some banks and fintech companies like Digit and Even see a business opportunity in trying to help consumers cope. The issue is top of mind at JPMorgan Chase, which over the last several years has established a think tank to study such things as income and expense volatility within its own customer base. In one review of the transactions of some 250,000 of the bank’s account holders, the JPMorgan Chase Institute found that 55% of them experienced at least a 30% fluctuation in income from month to month, due mostly to irregular work hours. "That's like adding or subtracting a housing payment," said Fiona Greig, director of consumer research at the institute. "People need a substantial everyday buffer to withstand that kind of volatility." The consensus is that the industry can do more to serve this growing segment of the population. "Knowledge alone is not going to solve this problem," said Colleen Briggs, JPMorgan Chase’s executive director for community innovation. "People need relevant, engaging information paired with products that are actually going to meet their needs.” (This story is part of our special report on financial inclusion.)
The shareholders and the fury: Several top-ranking Democrats in Congress blasted the Wells Fargo board on Tuesday, echoing the public’s frustrations. The day before, all 15 board members received shareholder approval at a raucous annual meeting, though the results for some were underwhelming. The women include new addition Karen Peetz (99% approval), along with Suzanne Vautrinot (80%) and Elizabeth Duke (75%), who have two years in, and Susan Swenson (67%) and Cynthia Milligan (57%), who joined in the 90s. Peetz, who recently retired from her job as president at BNY Mellon, has some experience on boards dealing with scandal, having served at Penn State University, her alma mater, when it was rocked by the sexual abuse case involving longtime assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Extracurriculars: Student-run branches at five California high schools are creating a ripple effect for MUFG Union Bank in communities with a high proportion of immigrant families that often don't trust banks. Students work four to five hours a week, after receiving the same training as the bank's full-time tellers, and nearly every student participating in the program goes on to college. The bank makes no profit on the initiative, though it does earn Community Reinvestment Act credit. "We don't do it to make money,” said Jan Woolsey, a managing director in Union Bank's corporate and social responsibility division. “But we do it to have an impact on the lives of individuals and the communities they live in.”
Self-service with a back-up plan: Given how stressful a home purchase can be, mobile mortgage solutions have to strike a balance between facilitating self-service and making humans available to help, said Michelle Moore, Bank of America's head of digital. The platform B of A plans to launch later this year will let users upload documents, e-sign materials and, if they want, connect to mortgage-loan officers. "We're going after making anything that customers want to do available in any channel that they want," Moore said.
Without missing a beat: CIT Group’s first-quarter profit beat estimates as the company benefited from an ongoing effort to shed businesses and simplify operations led by Chairman and Chief Executive Ellen Alemany. Net income at CIT rose 23% to $179.9 million from a year earlier.
Culture problem: Upon arriving at the Bank of England in 2013, Governor Mark Carney noted a "striking" lack of women in the senior ranks and pledged to improve gender diversity, a goal that could prove elusive following the loss of four of its top women this year. Vicky Pryce, an economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, said a fix will take more than some new hires. “The real problem is the organizational structure,” said Pryce. “You don’t solve it by just bringing in a few people at the top from the outside — you need to be working within the organization to push people up.”
Jennifer Breithaupt has been appointed global consumer chief marketing officer at Citigroup. She was previously managing director of media, advertising and global entertainment.
U.S. Bancorp named Kate Quinn to the newly created role of chief administrative officer and added oversight of the human resources department to her duties. She had been chief strategy and reputation officer. Quinn was one of our Women to Watch in 2016.
Celeste Mellet Brown, Morgan Stanley’s treasurer, is leaving the company after 17 years to become deputy chief financial officer at Fannie Mae.
In case you missed it
#WhereAreTheWomen: Goldman Sachs had 76 speakers at a recent conference on disruptive technology, just five of them women. This is not an anomaly — all-male panels are commonplace. A movement in which men refuse to participate in panels that have no female speakers is gaining momentum, but what can women do? Kara Alaimo proposes a few ideas, including tweeting photos of these panels with the hashtag #WhereAreTheWomen.
Superstar: NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson has spent more cumulative time in space than any other U.S. astronaut. She broke the record this week, logging 534 days, two hours, and 49 minutes away from Earth. Whitson is currently on her third long-duration stay at the International Space Station. She launched in November and when she returns to Earth in September will have spent more than 650 days in space throughout her career.
Nurse general: The new acting surgeon general, Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams, is believed to be the first person who is not a physician to serve in that role. Trent-Adams, who is a nurse, replaces Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, an Obama administration holdover.
Ad-miration: Carol H. Williams, the creative mind behind major campaigns for Pillsbury, Secret (she coined “Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman”) and Disney, will become the second black woman to enter the Advertising Hall of Fame. Her success notwithstanding, she said the industry still has far to go in terms of race. Marketing strategies based on casting minorities in ads, or making assumptions based on social media data won’t cut it. “It becomes an issue of, ‘If they see themselves in a commercial, they’ll buy the product,’ rather than it being about the messaging and how that messaging is delivered to them,” she said. “If you’re asking me if next month or next year, agencies are going to start to say, ‘Hey, I think we need to really start bringing in more African-American women,’ I really don’t think it’s a turning point in that regard. There are a lot of cultural changes that need to happen within the corporate agency climate in order for that to occur.”
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