Women in Banking

Wall Street's bad reaction to #MeToo, Kraninger in at the CFPB, BofA women making moves

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Are you kidding me?: Let’s step back for a moment and talk about the #MeToo movement, which was sparked last fall after The New York Times and The New Yorker brought to light Harvey Weinstein’s long history of sexual harassment and assault. Shortly thereafter, women across the world shared their own experiences — demonstrating, in the process, just how many have kept quiet for years about discrimination, abuse and rape. Powerful men in media and politics have been forced to resign as a result, after allegations surfaced about their behavior.

But rather than encouraging employees to speak up about harassment, or implementing better training programs, many Wall Street executives have had a different — and troubling — reaction to the #MeToo movement. According to a report this week from Bloomberg, male executives are avoiding one-on-one dinners with women, and refusing to sit next to them on flights, out of fear of being falsely accused of doing or saying something inappropriate. The report, which is based on interviews with more than 30 senior executives, dubs the phenomenon the “Pence Effect,” a reference to Vice President Mike Pence, who has a rule of not dining alone with any woman who is not his wife.

This type of backlash, of course, threatens to do real harm to the careers of women in banking, where success depends in large part on networking and going out to dinner — oftentimes with just men. “Women are grasping for ideas on how to deal with it, because it’s affecting our careers,” Karen Elinski, the president of the Financial Women’s Association, told Bloomberg.

Instead of going out of their way to avoid being alone with female colleagues, male executives can simply try behaving themselves, an unnamed investment adviser told Bloomberg. His advice to executives who worry that their actions might be misinterpreted: “Just don’t be an asshole.”

Eggs benefit: Coinbase is offering fertility benefits like egg-freezing as a way to stand out in the fierce competition for blockchain talent. Employees can receive up to $5,000 a year for these types of services. The perk — which Coinbase is providing through the fertility benefits startup Carrot — is a rarity. But Carrot’s chief executive, Tammy Sun, said several other companies in the cryptocurrency sector have reached out over the past year to discuss adding fertility benefits.

Will Kraninger go her own way? The Senate on Thursday confirmed Kathy Kraninger as the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — and the industry is eagerly waiting to see how she will run the agency. While Kraninger has signaled that she favors a free-market approach to regulation where government intervention is limited, she does not have the same track record of regulation-bashing as Mick Mulvaney, who has served as acting director for the past year. “She’s a black box,” Ori Lev, an attorney at Mayer Brown, told American Banker.

Cashing out: Summit Bancshares, the holding company for Summit Bank in Oakland, Calif., recently agreed to sell to Faciam Holdings, a California-based investment company, for nearly $70 million. Summit’s founder and chairman, Shirley Nelson, and its chief executive, Tom Duryea, will continue to manage day-to-day affairs of the $281 million-asset company after the deal closes in mid-2019.

Please nominate an outstanding woman you know: For the past 16 years, American Banker has celebrated the industry’s top-performing senior women as part of its annual Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance rankings. Now we’re inviting you to help advance the mission of gender parity by calling attention to women ages 40 and under who are on a path to becoming the C-Suite leaders of tomorrow. Learn more about the “Most Powerful Women in Banking: Next” program here.

Role Call

Bank of America shuffled its executive ranks this week and several women got promotions or expanded roles. Katy Knox, president of BofA’s trust and private banking divisions, was named to the Charlotte company’s management team, and is now reporting directly to chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan. Chief Administrative Officer Andrea Smith was given additional responsibilities, including oversight of marketing and communications. And Anne Finucane will focus more of her time on her role as chairman of BofA’s European division. Both Finucane and Smith are repeat honorees in our Most Powerful Women rankings, and Knox was part of BofA's team win in 2017.

HarborOne Bank in Brockton, Mass., has hired Brenda Kerr as senior vice president of its retail banking division. Kerr joins the $3.8 billion-asset HarborOne from Century Bank in Medford and, prior to that, she worked at Santander, where she had roles in branch leadership and sales and service strategy.

The $4.9 billion-asset Luther Burbank in Santa Rosa, Calif., has appointed a new CEO. Simone Lagomarsino will take the helm, succeeding John Briggs when he retires on Jan. 2. Lagomarsino ran Heritage Oaks Bank in Paso Robles, Calif., before serving as CEO of the Western Bankers Association.

Jane Jarcho has joined Promontory Financial Group as a special adviser, after 28 years at the Securities and Exchange Commission. In her new role, Jarcho will focus on expanding Promontory’s advisory work in asset management. She most recently served as the deputy director for the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations at the SEC.

Beyond Banking

Barely a majority: Only 52% of Americans — 45% of men and 60% of women — said they would feel “very comfortable” having a female president, according to a recent report in Axios. That’s notable given that several Democratic women — including Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and Amy Klobuhcar of Minnesota — are being floated as potential presidential candidates in 2020.

Place in history: Only five of the 150 statues in New York City honor influential women, but that ratio will soon change with the addition of a statue honoring Shirley Chisholm, the country's first black congresswoman, who represented parts of Brooklyn from 1969 through 1983. The monument is part of a citywide effort to honor women’s history. Earlier this year, the city began accepting nominations from the public, and came up with a diverse list of 326 eligible women, including jazz singer Billie Holiday and journalist Nellie Bly. Besides the Chisolm statue, which will be paid for by the Department of Cultural Affairs, a statue honoring Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, who both led the movement for women to get the right to vote, is planned for Central Park and is being funded through private donations.

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Diversity and equality Gender discrimination Gender issues National banks CFPB Bank of America Women in Banking