Women in Banking: Alemany Returns; Citi, Deutsche Add C-Level Women

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Welcome Back, Ellen Alemany: CIT Group is getting a female CEO and CFO. Ellen Alemany, who retired from RBS Citizens in 2013, will succeed Wall Street icon John Thain as CIT's CEO when Thain retires on March 31. Carol Hayles, CIT's corporate comptroller, is the new chief financial officer, replacing Scott Parker, who resigned on Monday. Both Alemany and Hayles are Citigroup veterans. Alemany joined CIT's board in early 2014.

Let's Make an Exception: How close are Hillary Clinton and Cheryl Mills? Mills, who is on the board of directors at BlackRock, has been one of Clinton's closest advisors, despite having no formal role in the campaign. Some might say it's curious that Clinton has been on the attack against Wall Street's biggest banks, but her reform plan has been quiet on the asset management front, an important sector of the industry and one that controls $30 trillion of global wealth. This article speculates about the influence Mills and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink have in the Clinton camp. (ICYMI: Here's an annotated guide to Clinton's Wall Street reform plan.)

Ahead of the Game: Go to a couple international banking forums and, of the 50-ish CEOs there, you're likely to see just a couple of women, says Chanda Kochhar, CEO of Indian multinational banking and financial services company ICICI. She contends that banks in India are better at promoting women, based on what she sees when she leaves her country. And in another story, Kochhar says when she was ICICI's head of infrastructure financing, the struggle to balance work and family responsibilities became too much for her and former CEO Kundapur Vaman Kamath allowed her to take a six-month hiatus. She says this changed the game for her.

No Lab Rats: Why put innovation into yet another silo? Bank of America's chief operations and technology officer Cathy Bessant isn't a proponent of the increasingly popular innovation labs being introduced by banks trying to get fintech right. She prefers experimenting with new innovations under her tech and operations umbrella. Her strategy entails meeting with startups about emerging technology and pushing for patentable inventions internally. "It's more powerful to capture innovation from 10,000 people than to put 10 people in a lab," Bessant says.

Notable: At payments company Square, three of its five top executives are women, according to pre-IPO filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It's a tiny company compared to the megabanks of the world. But a 60% female leadership team at a leading Silicon Valley startup ain't no small thing. To be clear, very few Silicon Valley startups have female executives, and Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Square and Twitter, knows it.

Role Call

Deutsche Bank has promoted Kim Hammonds to chief operating officer and Sylvie Matherat to chief regulatory officer, as part of a larger restructuring. Remember when the Deutsche said it planned to appoint "at least one woman" to its management board by mid-2017? Hammonds and Matherat both assume management board responsibilities within the next year. In her previous role as Deutsche's global chief information officer, Hammonds had been overhauling the global giant's tech operations. Matherat was previously Deutsche's head of government and regulatory affairs.

Citigroup has created a new unit to focus on a "smartphone-centric business model" and put Heather Cox in charge. Her title is CEO of Citi FinTech. As you may recall, Cox is our Digital Banker of the Year and one our Most Powerful Women in Banking.

Regions Financial's longtime head of operations and technology, Cindy Rogers, will retire at the end of the year. She joined the Birmingham, Ala., company in 1979 and has held a number of leadership positions over her career, including staff auditor, senior electronic data processing auditor, deposit operations manager and head of bank operations.

Investar Holding in Baton Rouge, La., has named Rachel Cherco chief accounting officer.

Foundation Bancorp in Bellevue, Wash., is searching for a new CEO to replace Diane Dewbrey, who resigned "to pursue other interests."

Insight from the Most Powerful Women

The Corporate Shuffle: It's not a bad idea to pursue a lateral move, if it will give you a chance to learn new skills, says Wells Fargo's Pat Callahan, in this video, "Moving Sideways Can Be the Best Way to Get Ahead."

Real-Life Example: The reason Key ended up with a female CEO has a lot to do with the composition of its board, says Beth Mooney, in this video, "Board Diversity Has a Ripple Effect, as KeyBank Illustrates."

Beyond Banking

All the Best Men: Harvard Business Review has published a list of the 100 best-performing CEOs in the world, and 98 of them are men. The two female CEOs on the list are: Debra Cafaro of real estate investment trust Ventas (#47) and Carol Meyrowitz of discount retailer TJX (#81). Three financial services CEOs are in the top 25: Michael Wolf, Swedbank (#9), Roberto Egydio Setubal, Itaú Unibanco(#24) and Larry Fink, BlackRock (#25). MasterCard's Ajaypal Banga is farther down at #76. (Notably, the scandalized Martin Winterkorn of Volkswagen is #20, as the emissions cheating came to light after the numbers were crunched.)

The Desire Is There (But Not the Pay): A Weber Shandwick survey shows more women than men are interested in advancing to C-level jobs. Some contend that women fall off the corporate ladder as they move up because they don't really want to be in the C-suite (>lookin' at you, Harvard). But, according to Weber, 56% of men who don't have C-level jobs are interested in attaining one (vs. 76% of women). A separate poll of only mothers had 79% expressing interest in the C-suite. In the same survey, 48% of male executives indicated the media is "too focused on equality for women and neglects men's career issues." Meanwhile, men's earnings are growing this year at twice the rate of women's.

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