Women in Banking

An ally at Goldman Sachs and a payoff at BofA

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Now on the agenda: David Solomon, who will become the chief executive of Goldman Sachs when Lloyd Blankfein retires Oct. 1, has taken up diversity as an issue, with a particular focus on the lack of women in senior roles. Solomon urged the promotion of Beth Hammack to treasurer last fall over the objections of Blankfein, who felt Hammack was more valuable on the trading floor, where she was one of just a handful of senior women, according to this Wall Street Journal profile. Solomon, who is Goldman’s president and chief operating officer, reportedly argued Hammock’s promotion would send a message that the firm was serious about closing the gender gap in its upper ranks. “We’re at a point in time where ‘enough already,’ ” Solomon told PayPal CEO Dan Schulman in a video chat last month. “I have trouble talking to my daughters about this and explaining why, for so long, we haven’t made more progress on this front.” (At the same time there is a gender discrimination class action brewing at Goldman.)

The next step: The maternity concierge program at Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati is working as expected to help retain female employees. In the year and a half since the program launched, more than 400 new moms have used the free service, which handles any chores they request from grocery shopping to finding day care. The bank found that 86% of the women who used the program remained with the company for at least six months after taking parental leave, compared with 62% among those who did not use the program. The personal assistants also clued the bank in on another need the employees had: Many of the moms wanted help with how to plan financially for their newest family member. “There’s a change in perspective in life in terms of wanting to figure out how to save for college, life insurance benefits, and how to budget for new expenses such as day care,” said Bob Shaffer, Fifth Third’s chief human resources officer. This interest prompted Fifth Third to offer a personalized financial coaching service to all employees. Those who get the coaching can collect up to $600 as a reward, which is likely one reason why 13,000 of Fifth Third’s 18,000 employees have participated since July 2017. Fifth Third provides the service through workplace financial planning company Ayco, which is owned by Goldman Sachs.

Big payday: Bank of America has agreed to pay a multimillion-dollar sum to settle a defamation claim brought by former executive Omeed Malik. He had been fired from BofA’s prime brokerage unit earlier this year, after an investigation of claims that he made unwanted advances toward a female employee. Malik, who charged that BofA suppressed evidence favoring him, sought $100 million from the company in an arbitration case he filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and planned to bring a discrimination lawsuit in state court. Malik is of Middle Eastern descent.

The trickle up effect: Women account for almost half of Bank of America Merrill Lynch's 2018 class of summer interns, as investment banks step up efforts to recruit more female candidates at a junior level. The intent is to address the shortage of women in the upper ranks by widening the funnel at the bottom. BofA had nearly 50,000 applicants for its summer analyst program, and hired 2,500 of them in its "most diverse group ever," according to chief financial officer Paul Donofrio. The group is 45% female and 55% diverse.

Keep it delicious: Consumers want “snackable” content that gives them small actions they can take to achieve a financial goal, according to Kelli Keough, global head of digital wealth management for JPMorgan Chase. The company relies heavily on data and analytics to provide these customized digital insights, which are presented to people without jargon. “We know clients choose firms based on the digital experience,” Keough said, noting that 66% of millennial investors who received an inheritance reported that they fired their family investment managers because of a lack of tech capabilities. “If we don’t have a fantastic experience for our clients, we in our industry will lose clients to those that do.”

Bargaining power: Small credit unions serving low-income customers use some of the same technology as big banks, but pay more to do so, because they negotiate “one-off contracts,” says Cathie Mahon, who is working to change that. Mahon is the chief executive of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, which is a network of 235 credit unions focused on helping distressed communities. She worked with a technology provider on developing a platform that credit unions can share and negotiated a discount contract for members that is “unheard of” in the business. Called CU Impact, the platform can update account balances and power auto bill pay, among other things.

Role call

Audrey Kaplan has been appointed as head of global equity strategy at the Wells Fargo Investment Institute in New York. She will establish investment strategy for those who serve individual and institutional clients through Wells Fargo Wealth and Investment business units, which have a total of $1.9 trillion in assets under management. The units include Abbot Downing, Institutional Retirement and Trust, Wells Fargo Advisors and Wells Fargo Asset Management. Most recently, Kaplan led the international equities portfolio management and research team at Federated Investors.

Valley National Bank in Wayne, N.J., has promoted Cami Gibertini to lead its expanding Women Entrepreneurs program, which it inherited with the acquisition of USAmeriBank in January. The program will be extended throughout Florida this year and into New York and New Jersey next year. More than 2,000 women are members, and they account for nearly $65 million in deposits and $87 million in loans in Florida and in Alabama. The benefits of the program for the $28 billion-asset Valley National include customer loyalty and referrals. “Women tend to churn less than men and are more loyal to their bankers,” said Gibertini, who now has the title of senior vice president and director of the program.

California BanCorp is launching a professional banking division and has recruited Colleen Atkinson to oversee it. Previously, Atkinson was a senior corporate banking manager at HSBC. The new division at the $900 million-asset Oakland bank will target business customers in the legal, accounting, insurance and not-for-profit sectors.

Connie Chan has been named a general partner at Andreesen Horowitz, becoming only the second woman to hold that title in its nine-year history. Chan was promoted from within just a few weeks after Katie Haun, a former federal prosecutor with experience in crypto enforcement, joined the venture capital firm as its first female general partner. Chan is credited with prompting the firm to invest in Pinterest early on.

Goldman Sachs has appointed former Harvard University president Drew Faust to its board of directors, making her the third woman on an expanded 12-member board. Faust, who was the first woman to lead Harvard and still teaches there, will join as an independent director this month and be a part of the governance, public responsibilities and risk committees.

Leandra English, who sued President Trump claiming to be the rightful director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has decided to leave the agency and end her lawsuit. Brian Johnson, the principal policy director at the CFPB, will succeed her as acting deputy director.


Get comfortable with the lack of clarity: In a recent Breaking Banks podcast, consultant Jo Ann Barefoot talked about the need for regulators to go digital. “Digitally native solutions can give you something better, faster and cheaper all at once,” she said. Though “we have a lot of regtech firms in the U.S.,” adoption of regtech has been slow, in part because the government is handling the issue in a fragmented way across multiple federal agencies. In comparison, regulators in Asia and the U.K. are making more progress. “The secret is to get comfortable with the idea that they’re going to have to move forward without knowing exactly what they’re going to do. It doesn’t come naturally to regulators or bankers. It’s the nature of the situation we’re in,” said Barefoot, whose consulting firm focuses on regulation and technology. “If you stand still until you think something is going to get more clear, it’s just going to get further away from you, and the rest are going to rise with the opportunity and there are going to be losses.”

Beyond Banking

Freedom fighters: Before France beat Croatia to win its second World Cup championship on Sunday, French forward Kylian Mbappe high-fived a woman who had run onto the field wearing a fake police uniform. A total of four people — three women and one man — interrupted the game before they were tackled by officials, dragged off the field and taken to a police station. Russian President Vladimir Putin was watching from the stands, along with other world leaders. Shortly after the incident, Pussy Riot, a feminist punk rock band, claimed responsibility, saying the protest was meant to support freedom of speech in Russia and attract international attention for political prisoners like Oleg Sentsov. The Ukrainian filmmaker, who opposed Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on terrorism charges, which he denies. Later Pussy Riot released a new music video called “Track about good cop,” dedicated to those jailed for the World Cup protest.

Happiness is the bottom line: After taking the chief financial officer job at Microsoft during one the bleakest periods in its history, Amy Hood has played a key role in winning back the support of employees, investors and customers. She is now the longest-tenured CFO at Microsoft since the mid-1990s, which is partly attributable to her expansive view of the job. The CFO role, as she sees it, is not just about balancing the books, but includes making sure that employees are happy. “My kids will tell you I practice counting, but my job is really a little different than that,” she told a crowd of 140 new recruits. “I may have thought about it that way when I took the job almost five years ago. But now it’s about creating an environment in which you all remember that you still want to pick us every day.”

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Chental-Song Bembry contributed to this report.

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National banks Recruiting Diversity and equality Gender issues Regtech Goldman Sachs Bank of America Women in Banking