Women in Banking

Who's new in the Most Powerful Women ranking for 2018

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Our 16th annual rankings are out!

Check out this year's lists of the Most Powerful Women in Banking, the Women to Watch and the Most Powerful Women in Finance.

The women who top these rankings are all familiar names – Bank of America’s Cathy Bessant, Wells Fargo’s Mary Mack and JPMorgan Chase's Mary Callahan Erdoes. But you’ll read about some distinct challenges for each one, including a Kilimanjaro-sized one for Bessant.

Who’s new to the banking list? The one big debut is Thasunda Duckett. JPMorgan Chase is expanding its retail bank with plans to add 400 branches in cities along the East Coast, and Duckett is leading the charge as its chief executive of consumer banking. Two others, who had been on the banking list before, are returning this year — U.S. Bancorp’s Kate Quinn and Huntington’s Sandy Pierce. Both Quinn and Pierce appeared on Women to Watch list last year, after getting promotions.

The watch list has 10 first-timers.Two of the newcomers are from SunTrust: Allison Dukes, chief financial officer, and Debbie Crowder, the head of branch banking. The others are: BB&T’s Barbara Duck, BMO Harris Bank’s Ernie Johannson, Citigroup’s Mary McNiff, Commerce Bank’s Patricia Kellerhals, JPMorgan Chase’s Jennifer Piepszak, UMB Financial’s Dana Abraham, and Wells Fargo’s Hope Hardison, One community banker is also making her debut on this list — Luanne Cundiff, the CEO at First State Bank of St. Charles in Missouri.

Two fresh additions join the finance list. Gunjan Kedia, of U.S. Bancorp, and Stephanie Cohen, of Goldman Sachs, appear on this list for the first time, and Suni Harford, who is a past honoree, returns this year, with a new role at a different company.

Don’t miss this ...

Have you seen the October issue of American Banker magazine yet? It diverges from what we typically do for the annual rankings, and you can find out why here. One of the most apparent differences is the number of women on the cover. That’s because it features not only seven of the honorees, but also women in the pipeline. The honorees brought along mentees who they predict will end up among the Most Powerful Women of the future.

Each day, we are rolling out a profile of one of the executives on the cover, along with a profile of the emerging leader she selected. One of the pairs is KeyCorp’s Amy Brady and Jasmine Hosein. Hosein’s job is advising Key’s executives on compliance issues related to technology and data security. But she is also making a mark as a champion for up-and-coming female employees.

In addition to the profiles, we are posting new videos daily, some of them serious (like, “Because female founders get overlooked,” featuring Cohen from Goldman Sachs), and some of them just for fun (like, “How the Most Powerful Women work out”).

You can see all of the latest content on our Women in Banking homepage. Just scroll down on the page for the daily news feed.

Top Teams 2018

The five top teams that are being honored as part of the Most Powerful Women program are all going above and beyond in some way to try to help bring greater gender parity to the senior ranks in coming years.

JPMorgan Chase — The New York megabank is working to overcome the tech talent crunch and diversify its workforce in the process. In a sector where banks have to compete for the best employees with tech behemoths and brash startups alike, Lori Beer, JPMorgan Chase’s global chief information officer, has championed a program called Tech Connect to seek talent from untapped pools. So far, 200 people have gone through this training — which is meant to turn non-techies into techies – and the majority are women, according to Beer.

BMO Financial — About 18 months ago, the human resources staff at BMO Financial noticed something unsettling: Many women in its commercial bank were turning down promotions once they reached the vice president or director level, or even leaving the bank entirely. Though a workplace flexibility policy had long been on the books to help facilitate the better work-life balance they wanted, female employees were less likely to take advantage of it than their peers, said Larissa Chaikowsky, the U.S. chief human resources officer for the company. Here’s what BMO did to reverse the trend. (BMO also had Top Team win in 2017.)

TD Bank — Following a major overhaul of how it fosters women’s career development, TD Bank is outpacing its peers in promoting women. About 61% of employees who were promoted into management positions last year were women, compared with 51% for peer banks, according to DiversityInc. One key factor is a robust mentoring program in its commercial banking division (which is a particularly male-heavy area at many banks). Another is the hiring of Kelley Cornish as its first head of diversity.

Zions Bancorp. — Talk about a daunting challenge. Over the past year, Zions Bancorp. has been consolidating more than 500 deposit products across half a dozen unique bank brands in the midst of a core conversion. And female executives like Melisse Grey are leading the effort. (Zions also had Top Team win in 2017.)

Old National Bank — A diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes for Carrie Ellspermann’s son prompted her to make changes at work, and Old National's reaction offers a lesson for those serious about retaining female leaders.

In other news

#MeToo on Capitol Hill: On a day when the nation was engrossed by the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh — in which Ford said her strongest memory of the alleged sexual assault was the “laughter” between Kavanaugh and his friend — a similar dynamic was at play across the Capitol at a House hearing for Federal Housing Finance Director Mel Watt. The testimony of Simone Grimes, an FHFA employee who has accused Watt of sexual harassment, overshadowed the hearing, which was initially scheduled to address other matters. In Watt’s case, members of both parties took the FHFA director to task for his alleged behavior. A defiant Watt admonished the committee for allowing Grimes to appear and insisted that, as director, he is not covered by the agency’s anti-harassment policy. And though Grimes taped conversations in which Watt is heard to be making inappropriate comments, he denied any impropriety. His reasoning is apparently based on the assertion that there was no handholding, kissing or sexual activity. Click here for four key takeaways from the Watt hearing.

Stand by: The protracted and hyperpartisan confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has taken up most of the energy in Congress, casting doubt on how quickly nominees to other posts can advance before the midterm elections. Awaiting confirmation are three nominees for seats on the Federal Reserve Board: Carnegie Mellon professor Marvin Goodfriend (nominated in November 2017), Kansas’ banking commissioner Michelle Bowman (nominated in April 2018) and Nellie Liang, a Brookings Institution fellow and former Fed staffer who is viewed as a departure from the norm (nominated in September). Also pending is President Trump’s pick to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Kathy Kraninger. She had been nominated in June and made it through a Senate committee in August.

JPM’s next board member: Jamie Dimon said he’s looking to add another woman to JPMorgan Chase’s board, where 10 of the 12 members are men. Speaking at a New York Times event focused on female leadership, Dimon, who is chairman and CEO at JPMorgan, also said it will probably take 10 or 15 years before a wave of female chief executive officers meaningfully improves the gender imbalance at the top in corporate America. Though he said his own company has made progress on promoting women, he acknowledged that it’s a “big issue” that just 30% of its vice presidents are women.

Advice on getting ahead: Always speak up. Own your mistakes. Let somebody else plan that office celebration. These tips — and more — came from four of the five women on JPMorgan Chase’s operating committee and Dimon himself at an internal event the company hosted last week as part of its “Women on the Move” initiative.

Murphy Brown is back: Did you see who appeared in the first episode?

Our awards event for the Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance is on Oct. 5 in New York City. Please see our Women in Banking page for more information and join our LinkedIn group.

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