What men can do: In countries like Canada where parental leave is sponsored by the government, statistics show that dads taking time off correlates to some big benefits for women — more moms stay in the workforce, the gender wage gap decreases, and a larger percentage of managers, and even board members, are women. So, men, take more paternity leave, if you really want to support women’s empowerment, argues Eric Arthell of Doblin, a unit of Deloitte Consulting. Arthell, who describes himself as “a male feminist,” also says the term “feminist” is too limiting and could be a mental barrier for men who want to join the movement.

In the trust business: Should banks stop working with Equifax? That is not really an option, Cathy Bessant says in this interview on CNBC. But studying what happened, and learning how to keep a similar breach from happening in the future, is a priority for banks in general, says Bessant, Bank of America’s chief operations and technology officer. “We are conscious every day of the fact that we are in the trust business,” she says. Besides the Equifax breach, Bessant also discusses cybersecurity, women in technology, biometrics and leadership. “I think what prepares anybody well to be a leader is the recognition that a career path is not a straight line,” she says. So when career setbacks happen — and they will — be resilient and learn from them. “No one advances in a corporation in spite of their setbacks; they advance because of their setbacks and what they learn.”

Cathy Bessant, Bank of America’s Chief Operations and Technology Officer.
Cathy Bessant, Bank of America’s Chief Operations and Technology Officer.

Take the dialogue to D.C.: Community bankers could do a better job of making lawmakers aware of unintended consequences from regulations, says Cynthia Blankenship, president of Bank of the West in Grapevine, Texas. “We don’t need to become professional lobbyists,” but just complaining to each other isn’t enough, says Blankenship, who has traveled to Washington D.C. multiple times this year to speak with members of Congress. Instead of relying on trade groups, bankers could amplify the impact by being their own advocates, she says.

From our women with vision series

Partners for life: Citi’s innovation leader, Yolande Piazza, envisions reinventing the way the bank interacts with customers, so that it is part of their daily lives — a “life partner” that’s always present, always intuitively easy and always helpful. “Gone are the days where banks get to dictate when people have access to their money,” said Piazza, the chief executive of Citi FinTech. “How we start to figure out how to be that true financial partner is going to be critical for the industry.” Piazza, who is new to our watch list this year, was promoted to her role in March, after serving as interim CEO of the group since August 2016. She oversaw the November launch of Citi’s API Developer Hub and the December launch of its revised mobile app for Citigold clients combining banking, wealth management, money movement and authentication.

Yoga and YouTube: It’s not easy persuading busy executives to schedule time off, but Wells Fargo’s Diane Schumaker-Krieg is on a mission. Business people, like top athletes, need to find ways to renew their energy to maintain peak performance, said Schumaker-Krieg, who is the global head of research, economics and strategy for Wells’ investment banking unit and is once again part of our finance list. "It's not hard to drive yourself relentlessly and succeed for five to 10 years," she said. "But the question becomes, how do you keep that going over the course of a long, 20-, 30-, 40-year career?” Even simple things can make a difference, “like getting up and doing five minutes of a yoga stretch, or watching a funny YouTube video, or calling a friend.”

Ethics in banking: Even though U.S. Bank is the fifth largest bank by assets, it was not a familiar name to many, until it brought on Kate Quinn to raise its profile. She did so by emphasizing its culture in a variety of internal and external efforts. One component of that is how much importance is placed on ethics. “Being an ethical company is the No. 1 trait that every stakeholder — our customers, employees, investors — is looking for,” said Quinn, who is in the ranking of Women to Watch this year.

Pleased about all the power-posing: Let others debate the meaning of the Fearless Girl statue. To State Street's Hannah Grove, its message to the banking industry was simple: create a more welcoming workplace for all. Fearless Girl has served her purpose — to spark a public conversation about what holds women back in the workplace and how they can make it to the top ranks in greater numbers, as well as add momentum to a push to get more women on corporate boards. State Street felt some backlash for blurring the line between public art and corporate marketing, and critics also have suggested it should do better by women internally if it wants to be a credible voice on gender issues. Nevertheless, Grove, who is making her debut on our banking list, is proud of the impact the statue has had. “There are always going to be detractors; there are always going to be naysayers,” Grove said. But seeing young girls react to the statue is more powerful to her than any of the negativity. “I watch the young girls power pose next to her, and I think yeah, absolutely that’s the message that should be sent.” (As we’ve mentioned in previous weeks, Grove also talks about how Fearless Girl statue came about in this video and New York’s top banking regulator, Maria Vullo, shares why it has personal meaning for her in this BankThink piece.)

Lifetime achievement winners

Congratulations to TD Bank’s Linda Verba and Huntington Bank’s Mary Navarro, recipients of our annual Lifetime Achievement Awards.

In her 19 years at one of the East Coast's fastest-growing banks, Linda Verba played a pivotal role in transforming it from a local community bank into a “major league” company, leading the integrations of four bank acquisitions. Verba, who is soon to retire from her role as head of strategy at TD, also spearheaded several internal initiatives to improve customer satisfaction and oversaw the launch of the TD Legendary Experience Index, which uses survey data to measure the likelihood of customers to increase their business with the company.

Reflecting on her career, Verba said the idea that female executives should aim to “have it all” is a farce. Both her family and her job come with their own set of demands, she said. “It’s about figuring out how to lead an integrated life” — being present for important family moments, but also answering work calls when in the waiting room at your child’s doctor appointment.

Verba gave an entertaining speech peppered with career advice when accepting her award at the Most Powerful Women in Banking gala last Thursday night. "Never underestimate the power of a great pair of shoes and a pop of lipstick," she told the crowd, as shown in this video clip.

Mary Navarro, who retired in July after a 42-year banking career, joined Columbus, Ohio-based Huntington in 2001. Customer centricity is a mantra among many bankers today, but at that time “bank practices and policies made it difficult for them to always do the right thing for those customers,” Navarro recalled. However, when the financial crisis hit, she got her chance to rethink the customer experience, and delivered. Huntington stopped charging overdraft fees on transactions of less than $5, and later introduced a free checking account with no strings attached, among other changes.

The word that colleagues most associate with her is “caring.” “She could make tough decisions when she had to,” said Stephen Steinour, Huntington’s chairman and chief executive, “but she had a big heart and constantly went out of her way to help people.”

Navarro also offered some career advice in her upbeat speech, urging caution when choosing where to work. Being at a company that is a good cultural fit for your personality “is much more important than finding the exact right job,” Navarro said, as shown in this video clip. With a good match, you will to have more impact, she said.

Find more videos and all the most recent Most Powerful Women coverage here.

Role call

Amy Friend, chief counsel for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, will retire on Nov. 11. Friend, who joined the OCC in 2013, led the legal team and oversaw efforts to implement the Dodd-Frank Act. She also worked for the Senate Banking Committee from 2008 to 2010 and was a managing director at Promontory Financial Group.

First Foundation Bank in Irvine, Calif., has promoted Lindsay Lawrence to the newly created role of chief operating officer. She joined First Foundation in 2015 as director of depository services and most recently served as chief banking officer. She previously worked at Umpqua Bank and Opus Bank.

Lindsay Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer at First Foundation Bank.
Lindsay Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer at First Foundation Bank.

In case you missed it

Building two brands: Ellevest has something no other robo-adviser does: Sallie Krawcheck. The former Citigroup and Bank of America executive has been building her personal brand since before launching the digital investment startup. “We talk a lot about equality and empowerment and the positive impact of women moving ahead, but the truth is money is at the bottom of so much power in a capitalist society,” said Krawcheck, who is the CEO at Ellevest. The business began seeing significant momentum this spring — after Donald Trump moved into the White House.

Beyond banking

What boards can do: In this Harvard Business Review article, 15 CEOs offer advice on how companies can get more women on their boards. Their suggestions include nixing the requirement that directors have C-suite experience and implementing annual board reviews to remove stale directors.

No more secrets: Do you know a Harvey Weinstein? Let’s not protect them with silence anymore. There is a risk to speaking up. But the alternative is putting others at risk, no?

Not just for boys: The Boy Scouts are going to let girls join. The Girl Scouts are not very happy about it. Is this just “fake wokeness?” Or ultimately a good thing?

Thanks to all who attended our Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance awards dinner. We hope to see you again next October.
Bonnie McGeer and Tina Snieder contributed to this report.

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