Give HR a Little Respect: Did you see the hullabaloo over Bank of America putting Andrea Smith in charge of its stress-testing? Well, some say giving those duties to Smith, who had been B of A's global head of human resources, isn't so odd, even if a chief risk officer or chief financial officer is the typical choice. "People judge HR by what they did 25 years ago," Dave Ulrich, a University of Michigan business professor, says. "HR executives today help leaders articulate goals and set the culture." As we noted here last week, Smith takes on the stress-testing assignment amid a bunch of management changes at B of A that include her promotion to the newly created role of chief administrative officer.

By the numbers: In Janet Yellen's first 18 months as Fed chair, new hires have averaged 247,000 per month and the dollar has strengthened 19%. Those numbers at the same point in Ben Bernanke's tenure were 144,000 per month and -8%, respectively, according to a WSJ comparison. But Yellen is under attack despite the economic rebound.

Blockchain believer: Santander Consumer USA Holdings chair Blythe Masters says blockchain technology can be used to help financial institutions accomplish their most important goal — improving customer service. Masters gave the opening keynote at American Banker's Digital Currencies + the Blockchain conference Tuesday, and the former JPMorgan Chase executive who is now CEO of a firm focused on blockchain technology did some evangelizing. "I believe that [blockchain] technology has the potential to truly change the way the financial world operates, to reduce costs, improve efficiency, reduce risks and ultimately provide better customer service," she said.

A Game Changer for Community Banks: A measure inserted into an appropriations bill by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, would allow the FDIC, OCC and Federal Reserve to exempt banks with less than $10 billion in assets from regulations that they deem burdensome. "It looks like a small provision but it could have a pretty big impact," said Sheila Bair, former FDIC chair. "It could be a game changer." Bair called for a similar provision in February.

Clinton Revs Up: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gave her first big speech specifying changes she'd like to see on Wall Street. Her aides say this was not the "big 'taking on Wall Street' moment," which is still to come. Among Clinton's initial volleys: calling for higher capital gains taxes for activist investors and tighter implementations of Dodd-Frank provisions – in particular, the one requiring companies to report how the CEO's pay compares to the median wage for its employees. Clinton also spoke against "quarterly capitalism," business deals aimed at quick stock gains.

Rooting for Ruth: The accolades keep coming for Ruth Porat, fresh off her first Google earnings call as the new CFO. The way happy investors see it, adult supervision is back at Google, according to the New York Times and Bloomberg. It looks like her exit from Wall Street is working out well.

Role Call

Cullen/Frost said that it will promote Annette Alonzo to group executive vice president of human resources. Alonzo will succeed Emily Skillman, who plans to retire in March after 27 years with the company. Candace Wolfshohl also has been promoted to group executive vice president for culture and people development. The reshuffle comes in the wake of Chairman and CEO Dick Evans' recently announced retirement.

MainSource Financial Group in Greensburg, Ind., has named Erin Hoeflinger, president of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in Ohio, to its board.

Sun Bancorp in Mount Laurel, N.J., has appointed wealth-management executive Grace Torres to its board. Torres will join the board's audit and risk committees.

Beyond Banking

Proof leads to action: In 2013 Salesforce cofounder and CEO Marc Benioff launched Women's Surge, an initiative to close the gender gap at his company. The goal: to ensure women make up at least a third of the participants at any company meetings and to use promotions and pay raises to achieve that outcome. As part of the initiative, Cindy Robbins was promoted to head of human resources, after raising concerns with Benioff that women's pay at Salesforce wasn't on par with men's. Doubtful of the claim, Benioff commissioned a company-wide review, which confirmed women were being paid less. "We surged. We got bigger jobs; we got promoted," Robbins said. "That's when we started to put our heads together. We wanted to help other women as well." One at a time, Salesforce is now continually adjusting the salaries of underpaid women, promoting them and hiring more diverse candidates.

Touchdown: Last night Jen Welter made history by becoming the first woman to coach in the NFL. The Arizona Cardinals have hired Welter to a training camp/preseason coaching internship. The announcement comes a few months after the NFL hired Sarah Thomas, its first full-time female referee, in a year of firsts for women in male-dominated sports. In July, the NBA's San Antonio Spurs made Becky Hammon the first female head coach of the Summer League.

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