Women in Banking

Wells Fargo speculation, female-friendly fintechs and Most Powerful Women on the move

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Who wants to lead Wells Fargo?: It wouldn’t be easy, or perhaps even prudent, for Wells Fargo to replace embattled Chief Executive Tim Sloan, despite what critics like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., say, according to a Bloomberg analysis. Finding an external candidate to run the fourth-largest U.S. bank would mean poaching from just a few peers and the pay to pry them away would be steep, if they even wanted to take such a fraught job. On the shortlist of plausible candidates that recruiters suggested to Bloomberg are a few from JPMorgan Chase, including Mary Callahan Erdoes, the head of asset and wealth management, and Marianne Lake, the chief financial officer. Wells insiders best positioned to replace Sloan are probably Mary Mack, who runs its retail bank, and Jon Weiss, who heads wealth and investment management. But both of them have worked at Wells for more than a decade, a period of various misconduct. One source cautioned that the board would have to be stealthy if it considered such a move, as even a hint of a potential successor could undermine Sloan, hasten his exit and disrupt business. An ouster seems unlikely though, as the board’s unanimous support for Sloan “has never wavered,” Chair Elizabeth Duke said in September. (Erdoes, Lake and Mack have been part of American Banker’s rankings of the Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance for years.)

When you upset the wrong mother: A powerful lawmaker in Mexico, Tatiana Clouthier, recalls a time when her young daughter’s savings account was wiped out by fees. Now Clouthier is backing a campaign against high bank fees in her country that is making the financial markets jittery. Bounced checks, for example, cost customers $47 at Citibanamex, Citigroup’s Mexican unit, and $50 at HSBC. That's the equivalent of more than two days' wages in Mexico. By comparison, Citi charges $34 in the U.S., where incomes are four times higher on average. Whether Mexico’s government should bring the fees down by law, regulation or political pressure is under debate.


Double agent: The French government had the help of an unlikely key witness when it nailed UBS with a record €4.5 billion fine for recruiting clients who wanted help evading taxes. Stéphanie Gibaud, “a relatively junior marketing manager who organized client events,” was a vital part of the case, which featured encrypted hard drives, shadow accounting systems and bankers chasing clients through French high society, according to the Financial Times. Back in May 2011, French officials summoned a scared Gibaud to a meeting and ordered her to help them catch Swiss bankers illegally soliciting French clients at the French Open tennis tournament. Gibaud said she was in fear as she tried to behave normally in front of her colleagues while at Roland-Garros, then later endured hours of interrogation. “I just thought that my life is like a thriller,” Gibaud told the paper.

A lack of minority CEOs: Even though credit unions have a more diverse customer base than banks, less than 3% of the CEOs in that sector are African-American, according to a new study. That’s 165 CEOs (86 women and 79 men) out of approximately 5,686 credit unions. And of those 165 minority-led institutions, only 13 have more than $100 million in assets, and only four top $1 billion of assets. “As the asset size increases, the less diversity you see in ethnicity and gender,” Pamela Owens, senior vice president of organizational development and capacity building at Inclusiv, told the Credit Union Journal.

No more ‘manels’: How can you foster more diversity in financial services? Participants at a recent TradeTech FX conference heard some suggestions from speakers such as Jennifer Litwin, head of relationship management at Greenwich Associates, and Melanie Cristi, head of the Americas for Morgan Stanley Electronic Trading macro sales. Get a mentor, female or male, who can help you navigate political issues at work and advocate for promotions. Become a mentor to young women who are still in school, so they see that women can have successful careers in foreign exchange and other types of financial services. Advocate for parental leave, and encourage men to take theirs. Look for ways to speak at conferences, especially if you see a slate with any all-male panels, or ‘manels.’ Write the women who are on the boards of companies organizing conferences and ask them to encourage more female and minority participation in panels. If you are an entrepreneur, look for ways to be quoted in the press.

Best Fintechs to Work For

Face time: In the male-dominated fintech world, the online small-business lender Fundera is making an extra effort to attract and retain women. It organizes monthly events as part of a program to support female employees, who make up 39% of the company’s 87 workers. The events include a mix of lunches and outings after business hours and sometimes feature speakers on topics like career advancement. Generally about 20 women attend, ranging from those fresh out of college to top executives. “I think it’s important for people to see role models,” said Monica Ramos, a human resource generalist for Fundera and a participant in the events. “I think that’s an incredibly powerful thing. And this is where you form a bond.” The program helped Fundera earn a spot in our Best Fintechs to Work For ranking this year.

A culture of communication and collaboration: Fattmerchant wants all of its employees to collaborate with each other regardless of what department they work in. To that end, the payments technology company holds a full staff meeting every Monday morning and Friday afternoon. Each department head gives an update on the work the team is doing and talks about how that work relates to people in other departments. That way, “even if you are an inside sales rep, you understand the features that we are building from a technological perspective,” said Suneera Madhani, the founder and CEO of the fast-growing, five-year-old fintech, which now employs 90 people, up from 40 a year ago, and, like Fundera, is part of our Best Fintechs to Work For ranking. “A lot of time in many organizations, the people don't talk to each other,” Madhani said. “Marketing doesn't talk to sales, or technology doesn’t talk to marketing. One thing we try to do is ensure there is visibility for all departments.”


Role Call

Wells Fargo has recruited KeyCorp's Maria Teresa Tejada to help shore up its risk management in the wake of various scandals. Tejada started her new job as chief strategic enterprise risk officer at the San Francisco banking giant on Monday. She also will be responsible for managing reputation risk and international risk. She reports to Chief Risk Officer Amanda Norton, who was hired away from JPMorgan Chase in May. Tejada had been at Key since 2013, most recently serving as deputy chief risk officer.

Alice Milligan, head of Citigroup’s digital client experience, is leaving for “an exciting new opportunity” outside of the bank, according to a memo sent to employees. Milligan, who joined Citi in 2014, recently helped drive efforts to sign up more mobile users. A replacement has not yet been named.

Citigroup is also losing Barbara Desoer, the CEO of Citibank North America. Carey Lathrop, who serves as the banking unit’s chief operating officer, will succeed Desoer when she retires in April after five years at the helm. Desoer is a veteran of our Most Powerful Women list.

Sandie O’Connor, JPMorgan Chase’s chief regulatory affairs officer, is retiring April 1. O’Connor has worked at the bank for more than 30 years in various positions, including treasurer. “Sandie has been a terrific partner and trusted advisor to me and other senior leaders,” JPMorgan’s Lake said in a memo to employees. “Time and again she has demonstrated her deep understanding of markets, clients and the economy, and has provided valuable and objective insights as new policies and regulations take shape.” Outside the bank, O’Connor chaired the Alternative Reference Rates Committee, which was created by the Federal Reserve in 2014 to come up with a successor to Libor. Like Desoer, she has been a regular on our Most Powerful Women list.

Monique Herena will join American Express as its new chief human resources officer, effective April 1. Herena, who had been at BNY Mellon, will be on Amex’s executive committee and report directly to Chairman and CEO Stephen Squeri. She succeeds Kevin Cox, who moved to GE. Herena, who joined BNY Mellon in 2014 as head of human resources, marketing and communications, was part of our Most Powerful Women rankings in 2018 and 2017.

The U.K. insurance company Legal & General named Michelle Scrimgeour as the new CEO of its £1 trillion investment management unit. She succeeds Mark Zinkula in what the Financial Times calls “one of the most powerful roles in the European asset management industry.” The executive search for Zinkula’s replacement took more than six months, and three of the four candidates on the shortlist were said to be women, including two internal candidates. Scrimgeour comes to L&G from Columbia Threadneedle Investment, where she was CEO for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Previously, she also was chief risk officer at M&G Investments and COO of international fixed income at BlackRock.

Celsius Network, a London-based cryptocurrency lending and borrowing platform, has named Samantha McDonald as CFO. McDonald joins Celsius Network from Grayscale Investments, a cryptocurrency investment firm, where she was vice president of finance.

Deborah “Debby” Hopkins, formerly of Citigroup, has joined the board of directors for the cybersecurity company Deep Instinct. Before she retired from Citi in December 2016, Hopkins served in a dual role as its chief innovation officer and as the founding CEO of its Citi Ventures unit in Silicon Valley. She was often part of our Most Powerful Women rankings.

Karen Peetz will leave Wells Fargo’s board of directors at the annual shareholder meeting April 23. Peetz was named to the board in February 2017 and chaired the risk committee, a key position as Wells works to improve its risk management controls. The company said that Peetz decided not to stand for reelection so that she can devote more time to other commitments. Peetz had topped our Most Powerful Women rankings just before her retirement as the president of BNY Mellon in 2016.

Deloitte’s global board will have a female chair for the first time ever when Sharon Thorne succeeds David Cruickshank at the end of his four-year term in June. Thorne is the deputy CEO and managing partner for global and strategy of Deloitte North West Europe. She has served on the global board for nine years.

Beyond Banking

Bye, moms: More than 40% of women with full-time jobs in science leave the field or switch to part-time work after having their first child, according to a new study. The same was true for 23% of men, the researchers, Erin Cech, a sociologist at the University of Michigan, and Mary Blair-Loy, a sociologist at the University of California San Diego, found. Cech said the results demonstrate that work in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, can be “culturally less tolerant and supportive of caregiving responsibilities than other occupations,” prompting many to move to non-STEM fields. During the study period, 24% of child-free women left or went part-time, which is far below the rate for the new mothers. The study was published in Nature.

But then there’s the rest of the story: This year Google’s annual pay study found that many men were being paid less than women for doing similar work. But Google acknowledged that the study did not address whether women were hired at a lower pay grade than men with similar qualifications — which critics say is a much bigger issue for the tech giant. The case of former Google engineer Kelly Ellis illustrates the point. Google hired her with four years of experience as a Level 3 employee, then hired a male engineer with the same experience a few weeks later as a Level 4 employee, according to her lawsuit against the company. That meant he had a higher salary and more opportunity for bonuses, raises and stock compensation.

Makeup as part of the uniform: The real surprise in this story about Virgin Airlines no longer requiring female flight attendants to wear makeup is that most international airlines still have that requirement and even go so far as to prescribe exactly what makeup must be bought and worn.

A message that’s Wirth a lot: Catalyst is going to use its largest donation ever — $5 million from Chevron — to fund a program that teaches male executives how to improve diversity at their companies. Called Men Advocating for Real Change, the program uses tactics like lessons on unconscious bias. The nonprofit Catalyst has been consulting on Chevron’s diversity programs for many years, and Mike Wirth, the energy giant’s CEO, is apparently a big fan. More than a third of Chevron’s board of directors and 20% of its management committee are women. That’s up from 6% and 11%, respectively, since 2010. Wirth links the increase in diversity to an improvement in innovation.

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Fintech Diversity and equality Consumer banking Law and regulation Wells Fargo Citigroup Women in Banking
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