A Female Chair at Santander: It's been a big summer for Blythe Masters, the JPMorgan alum who is now CEO of the blockchain tech company Digital Asset Holdings. And her latest coup is a win for women in the boardroom: she just joined the board of Santander Consumer USA as chairman no less. Thomas Dundon vacated that position a few weeks ago after the subprime auto lender's parent company had come under scrutiny for its lending and securitization practices. The 46-year-old Masters also joined the advisory board of the Chamber of Digital Commerce this month.
A Little Cooperation, Please: Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin is helping lead an interagency "campaign" to declassify certain types of cyber-threat information that she believes would help banks enhance their security procedures. Federal rules on classified information often get in the way, but Raskin is pushing for a solution that would facilitate the sharing of IP addresses, malware hashes and other information that is relatively benign but nevertheless useful. Information-sharing is a two-way street, or it should be, she told her audience at an American Bankers Association conference Tuesday. Banks should offer law enforcement the information they gather too.
The New CRE Competitors: A new crop of online lending platforms including RealtyMogul, headed by Jilliene Helman is focusing on commercial real estate loans that get ignored by banks. "Real estate is one of those industries that hasn't seen a lot of transformation through technology," Helman, RealtyMogul's CEO, told American Banker. Her Los Angeles-based company, which has just closed a $35 million funding round led by Sorenson Capital, intends to change that, as do a bunch of other startups in the marketplace lending space. One point of differentiation for RealtyMogul is that it offers equity financing for real-estate projects.
Yellin' at Yellen: In the 18 months since Janet Yellen took over at the Fed, she's had to manage a rocky relationship with Congress. Legislators on both sides of the aisle complain about a general lack of responsiveness from the Fed, and Republicans are especially fired up over a possible leak of confidential information from a policy meeting that took place in 2012. The more criticism that comes Yellen's way, the more likely it is that monetary policy could become politicized, some observers contend. In other Yellen news, she told lawmakers yesterday "the economy doesn't stink" and Fed still expects to raise interest rates sometime this year.
The TBTF Show: Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton said Monday that the government needs to tighten its leash on big banks and punish individuals for wrongdoing. But, while candidates like former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Vermont Gov. Bernie Sanders have explicitly called for a breakup of the too-big-to-fail institutions, Clinton instead shifted attention to the shadow banking industry, saying hedge funds, high-frequency traders and nonbank finance companies receive little oversight despite posing serious risks. Clinton said that in coming months she plans to introduce specific banking reforms that "go beyond Dodd-Frank" in mitigating risk and complexity.
Bank of America named Jackie Yoon president of its St. Louis market after Larry Otto left for the same position at U.S. Bancorp. She has been managing director of the Midwest region for B of A's U.S. Trust wealth management division.
Sonya Jarvis, chief risk officer at Business First Bancshares in Baton Rouge, La., added the title of chief operations officer. She also will be the bank's primary regulatory coordinator.
Home BancShares in Conway, Ark., promoted Jennifer Floyd to succeed Brian Davis as chief accounting officer. She joined Home just last month as director of financial reporting.
First Midwest Bank in Itasca, Ill., hired Michelle Hoskins to be its chief of human resources. She was previously at Northern Trust in Chicago.
Anita Young, previously an Umpqua Holdings executive, was hired as director of specialty deposits at First Foundation Bank in Irvine, Calif. She will run a new unit catering to commercial customers.
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Market Hormonal Imbalance: The financial markets are competitive, risky and sometimes irrational one might say they're hormonal. That's not too surprising: trading is dominated by young men, a competitive demographic by nature with higher levels of cortisol and testosterone. Research out of London's Imperial College suggests these natural stimulants have a "destabilizing role" in the markets. To inject more stability, add women and older people, the study suggests. The presence of high testosterone levels can lead traders to take risks, and any resulting success pumps up those hormone levels and makes it more likely they'll further increase the risk. The research is an extension of earlier findings that men are more likely to take chances than women. Profits tend to be correlated with elevated testosterone levels; market uncertainty tends to be correlated with elevated cortisol.
Climbing the Patent Ladder: Banks are getting in the patent game, and Bank of America's Cathy Bessant is among the most active. The patent office ranks companies that receive 30 or more patents a year, and B of A first appeared on that list in 2011 with 73 patents. Last year it received 232, more than any other bank. JPM by way of comparison received 95. Bessant is number 7 on our Most Powerful Women in Banking rankings.
Know When to Hold 'Em: Tech tycoon Heidi Messer started a females-only poker night for professionals at her New York City loft a couple years ago, and it is now considered one of the most elite poker nights in town, drawing big names in business, executive leadership, sports and entertainment. Poker is "just one of those games that translates beautifully," she told CNBC. "With poker, like business, you learn patience, how to make conversation and slowly learn about your opponent before going all in and taking risks." Messer, the founder and CEO of data analytics firm Collective-i and LinkShare, accommodates about 70 players twice a year and maintains a waitlist of at least 1,000.
Comicly Underrepresented: The entertainment industry may still be male dominated, but audiences are challenging the status quo. Females make up half of all comic-book buyers, video game players and Comic-Con badge holders but only 13% of the people professionally involved in creating comics and games. Sam Maggs, the author of "The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy" who presented these figures at a Comic-Con panel last week, is optimistic about their capacity to change that, thanks to social media. "Ten years ago, you would never say you were a woman, because that's all anyone would talk about," she said. Now, "we can go directly to Marvel and directly to DC and say: 'We have all this money, all this buying power. Why aren't you catering to us?' And they kind of have to listen."