Off and Running: Next week Ellen Alemany takes the helm at the CIT Group, which has overcome some obstacles but still has some big ones ahead. On a conference call where she outlined her strategy to get the struggling company on track, she said her focus will be on profitability, not revenue growth. Beyond what was said, one detail worth noting about the call is that two women's voices did most of the talking — which is a striking difference from most banks. Alemany ran the call along with Carol Hayles, CIT's chief financial officer. This female CEO/CFO duo has no illusions about the work it will take to transform the bank into a formidable player. But Alemany expressed a lot of optimism in an interview with us, saying "I think we have a tremendous opportunity."
How the West Will Be Won: The first few months after Nandita Bakhshi arrives at Bank of the West, she plans to visit with employees across the company — particularly those on the front lines — to get their input on what works and what doesn't. The incoming president and CEO will become one of only a handful of women running a top-40 bank (along with CIT's Ellen Alemany) — a triumph, for sure, but one she downplays. "I really hope we get to a place where we talk about a CEO without calling them a female CEO," she said.
One Deal Leads to Another: When KeyCorp began pursuing the $40 billion-asset First Niagara last year, it was proactive about engaging with community groups to discuss its intention of being a good corporate citizen. Last week CEO Beth Mooney signed a "community benefits agreement," committing to double Key's lending to low- and moderate-income borrowers in its market areas (to $16.5 billion). Mooney also agreed to keep open four branches near low- and middle-income communities and open an additional branch in East Buffalo, N.Y., under the agreement struck with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. Bruce Murphy, head of corporate responsibility for Key, said its deal to buy First Niagara would not have been successful without the support of community groups.
No More Kool-Aid: In a newly published memoir, former Lehman Brothers CFO Erin Montella shares her experience during the financial crisis and recounts what went wrong at her company. She regretfully describes herself as a type-A personality who "drank the Lehman Brothers Kool-Aid" and allowed her work to dominate her life completely. One pivotal moment in the unwinding of that life was when she was left to handle a March 2008 earnings call all on her own, shortly after the emergency sale of Bear Stearns (and only five months before Lehman itself would collapse). Neither then-CEO Richard Fuld nor then-president Joseph Gregory participated in the call. Reflecting on that, Montella sees herself as a rookie firefighter going into her first burning building trying to put out the fire by herself. The next quarter, earnings tanked and Montella quit. Fuld phoned her — last year — to tell her the events of 2008 weren't her fault, a gesture she appreciates, but doesn't assign much meaning to. She has moved on, centering her life on her retired New York City firefighter husband and their daughter born a few months after Fuld's call.
HSBS Sets a Goal for 2020: HSBC's head of retail banking and wealth management in the U.K., Francesca McDonagh, said she is continually dismayed at how the status of women in the industry is much the same as when she started out as a trainee two decades ago. "I just assumed when I was 21 or 22 that when I was in my 40s it would have changed," she said. "I found it quite shocking that it hasn't changed really and the representation and proportion of women at the most senior levels in the industry remains quite poor." HSBC is addressing the imbalance, setting a 2020 target for equal gender representation in certain operations, and McDonagh herself is leading an initiative to implement "blind" CVs. Although HSBC's staff consists of 54% women, many of them are in lower ranking positions.
From GE to GS: The Federal Reserve approved Goldman Sachs' bid to buy roughly $17 billion in online deposits from GE Capital, over objections from some community groups. Esta Stecher, the chief executive officer of the GS Bank unit, noted that decisions by state regulators in New York and Utah, where GE's deposits are based, are still pending. It was a defeat for the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, which spearheaded the effort to oppose the Goldman deal and aimed to at least get some Community Reinvestment Act concessions as a condition of the Fed approval. The NCRC had more success with KeyCorp, as noted above.
Cyber Dialogue: A panel discussion organized by the Treasury Department and the White House Council on Women and Girls focused on how different branches of government could better collaborate to strengthen the country's cybersecurity. Ellen Richey, vice chairman of risk and public policy at Visa, said such government coordination is necessary to avoid "a proliferation of standards." Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin moderated the panel, which also included Leslie Ireland, an assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Treasury, and Maria Filipakis, executive deputy superintendent of capital markets in the New York State Department of Financial Services.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency named Grace Dailey senior deputy comptroller for bank supervision policy and chief national bank examiner. She succeeded Jennifer Kelley, who is retiring after a 37-year career at the agency.
The OCC also appointed Grovetta Gardineer to the newly created position of deputy comptroller for compliance and community affairs. Gardineer will oversee Community Reinvestment Act compliance and have a seat on the agency's executive council. She was previously head of the office's compliance risk office.
Santander has recruited Elsie Leon-Cruz and Sarah Lindstrom from JPMorgan Chase. Both were market managers at JPM and joined Santander in February as regional market presidents. Leon-Cruz oversees the metro New York and northern New Jersey regions and Sarah Lindstrom the southern and western New England region.
Jefferson Security Bank in Shepherdstown, W. Va., has promoted Cynthia Kitner from CFO to CEO. She succeeded Stephen Morris, who is retiring.
No Luv: BNP Paribas had to be cringing over the #RaymondMoore controversy. He ended up resigning as the tournament director for the BNP Paribas Open, one day after making some stunning comments about women's pro tennis players that went viral in social media. "If I was a lady player, I'd go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport," Moore told reporters at the welcome breakfast for the tournament Sunday. Tennis stars like Serena Williams and the legendary Martina Navratilova were among those who publicly took exception to Moore's remarks. (The uproar comes just after BNP Paribas announced that a woman — Nandita Bakhshi — would be the next CEO of its Bank of the West unit.)
Pay Up: Equal pay among men and women is far and away the top concern of 23,000 working women surveyed by the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest federation of labor unions. Choosing from a list of 20 social and economic concerns, almost half of the survey participants (46%) cited equal pay as one of the three issues they most want addressed. Next in order of importance were affordable health care, guaranteed health care for all, affordable higher education and raising the minimum wage.
The Devaluation Effect: Why do women's annual earnings lag men's by 20%? Well, it's not because women choose professions that pay less. Research suggests when women enter any industry in great numbers, overall pay declines.
Bonnie McGeer contributed to this report.