Morais Goes for Growth at Ally: Ally Bank is focused on its growth strategy, moving forward with plans to add mortgages and credit cards to its product offerings. "We're not doing anything crazy," said Diane Morais, the bank's CEO. "We'll have very rigorous credit standards, strong controls in place." These moves are intended to be low risk, so they are perhaps also low reward, at least initially. "The revenue projections are pretty modest for the first few years," Morais said. That suggests they are not necessarily going to help parent company Ally Financial avoid grief over its sagging share price in the short term.
Warren as One of the Supremes?: Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., called for President Obama to nominate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to the Supreme Court as successor to the late Justice Antonin Scalia. While that nomination would make sense for the president and help galvanize the Democratic Party going into the upcoming election, observers say fierce Republican opposition would make such a choice unlikely. Some contend Warren has no chance at all because of her progressive views. Others say it's too risky to open up Warren's seat as Democrats aim to take back the Senate majority.
Assuming the Worst: In the closely watched case where MetLife is arguing that it should not be considered a systematically important financial institution, Judge Rosemary Collyer challenged the Financial Stability Oversight Council with pointed questions during the first round of oral arguments. Among her concerns, Collyer said she is unsure how fair or reasonable it is to base the SIFI designation on the impact that MetLife's failure would have instead of on the likelihood of the company collapsing. "Instead of a risk analysis, the agency [assumed] a macroeconomic weakness, that the U.S. financial system is unstable, and MetLife or anybody else is at the brink of insolvency," Collyer said. "That is not a risk analysis. That takes all the risk out of it. That's assuming the worst of the worst of the worst of the worst."
Money Manager Goals: Brokerage companies and financial advisory firms have the greatest opportunity to improve the lack of female representation in financial services, according to Barron's. Women account for less than 25% of financial advisers, the same percentage as 10 years ago. Studies have found that while men tend to be more interested in investment choices, women tend to focus more on advisory services like tax management, long-term-care planning, and charitable giving. Male portfolio managers tend to focus on outperforming benchmarks; their female counterparts tend to care more about aligning portfolio growth with long-term family goals. However, "some advisers would argue that all the profit comes from the investment side," said Eleanor Blayney, a consumer advocate at the Certified Financial Planners Board, "and the rest of financial planning is akin to the free toaster you used to get when you opened a bank account."
She for She: The new comic novel "Opening Belle" isn't just about sexist men on Wall Street. Women also have a huge opportunity for self-improvement, says author Maureen Sherry. The former Bear Stearns managing director spoke to Bloomberg about her fiction-based-on-fact novel and the friction she's observed between women who work in an office and those who work in the home to raise children. "I was very sensitive to when one group would be unkind about the other," she said, sharing some of the "snide remarks" they would make about each other. She worries this ongoing Mean Girls culture will set the tone for future generations.
In Case You Missed It
Yellen Tells Warren 'No:' Separately Warren also made news last week for her sharp questioning of Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. Warren said the Fed should have called the living wills of 11 banks "not credible," as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. did; this would have allowed the agencies to force the banks to reorganize. She challenged Yellen to commit to issuing a joint determination on living wills with the FDIC in the future. But Yellen declined, saying the Fed and FDIC need to use their own judgment in evaluating living wills. "I cannot guarantee you that we will arrive at identical conclusions," Yellen said.
No Rest for Rousseff?: Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff can worry a little less about impeachment, but an investigation into the country's political corruption still might hurt her.
Let Me Qualify That: Most can agree there aren't enough women on corporate boards, but if you ask corporate directors why that is, there is a gender divide in the reasons given. Older men also tend to cite a different reason than younger men. In this new study commissioned by WomenCorporateDirectors, "lack of qualified female candidates" was the number one response (42%) given by male directors aged 56 to 65 and number two response (24%) of men under 55 years old. The men under 55 were far more likely than their older counterparts to say that male domination of traditional networks is a key hurdle — which is also a top reason cited by female corporate directors. Just one quick question: could it be that older men incorrectly think there is a lack of qualified women because their networks are mostly male?