Congratulations to an enterprising builder: "Starting a bank is like giving birth,” said Mary Ann Scully, chairman, president and chief executive of Howard Bank in Ellicott City, Md. “It’s creating something.” Scully has overseen her bank’s growth from its start with one location in August 2004 into a $1.1 billion-asset, publicly traded company with more than a dozen branches across six Maryland counties. "It still gives me chills some days to drive past one of our locations and look at the sign," she said. For years, Scully considered creating Howard her “most profound career-related decision” — though she has now topped that, with a deal to acquire 1st Mariner Bank in Baltimore, allowing her to double Howard’s assets and move the headquarters to Baltimore. For her vision and her ability to expand a de novo while the financial crisis took out so many others like it, American Banker recognized Scully as an "Enterprising Builder,” as part of its 2017 Banker of the Year awards. Check out teaching moments from Scully and other Banker of the Year honorees here. (Scully also was on our Women to Watch list this year and in 2016.)

London calling: Digital Asset Holdings’ Blythe Masters is being touted as a potential successor to the outgoing CEO of the London Stock Exchange, Xavier Rolet. During her tenure at JPMorgan Chase, Masters pioneered the development of credit-default swaps, which were later blamed for super-charging the financial crisis. Now she runs a blockchain company. While Masters obviously has the necessary understanding of market plumbing, financial technology and regulated businesses, whoever succeeds Rolet will need to bring the organization together and move it in a new direction. Thanks to his deal spree, the exchange today runs more like a “federation of individual units, each with strong operational leadership,” according to Bloomberg’s story. But who Masters she wants the job anyway?

Blythe Masters, chief executive officer of Digital Assets Holdings.
Blythe Masters, chief executive officer of Digital Assets Holdings. Bloomberg News

Patience is a virtue: Law professor Tamar Frankel, the 92-year-old who is considered the intellectual godmother of the fiduciary rule, is still shaking up Wall Street. She commutes to work five days a week, carrying on unfazed by the fact that the Labor Department has said it would delay implementing key parts of the fiduciary rule until July 2019. The idea of fiduciary duty — that anyone being paid to provide investment advice on a retirement account should act in the best interest of the client — was radical when Frankel spelled it out in 1983, but it slowly caught on. Today, with the Trump administration putting parts of the fiduciary rule on hold, Frankel counsels patience. “What the rule has done is sown the seed, and the longer it takes the better off we are, because what we must change is the culture and the habits in the financial industry,” she said. “Habits don’t change in one day. It takes time.” Frankel will turn 93 in July; at which time she’ll stop teaching but continue to research and write.

The gender lending gap: Women are not only less likely to be approved for loans than men, they are also less inclined to apply for loans in the first place. Among the reasons: Women generally fear debt more than men do and often avoid applying for loans if they have previously been rejected, according to a report released last week by the Federal Reserve banks of New York and Kansas City. “Women business owners as a whole tend to be more risk averse,” said Joy Lutes, the vice president of external affairs at the National Association of Women Business Owners. “They ask for less, they undervalue themselves and the company, and they are reticent to go back if they hear a ‘no.’ They’re going to put it on a credit card or tap into a retirement plan or fall back on any personal assets they’ve accrued.” And if female business owners don’t cultivate a lending relationship early in the life of their business, it’s harder to get later. “Too many of our members are seeking personal sources to finance the start of their business, and then when it comes time to scale, it’s harder to jump in later,” Lutes said.

Team effort: Starling Bank CEO Ann Boden recently discussed how important partners are to her British neobank. “We’re quite rigorous in assessing our partners and allowing people into our marketplace,” she said of the due diligence process. This week Starling received regulatory approval to open its marketplace app store for customers.

Her summer in Silicon Valley: Men don’t need to mime sex acts behind women, wag their tongues at female colleagues or invite them into their hotel rooms at 11 p.m. to go over some numbers in order to be part of the problem. These are all things Ellevest CEO Sallie Krawcheck experienced when she climbed the ladder of her Wall Street career. But the behavior that holds women back can be less blatant than that. Sexism doesn’t disappear once you get higher up the ladder either; it just manifests in different ways. That’s true in Silicon Valley too, which, like Wall Street, directs trillions of dollars to companies that will deliver the highest returns and is overwhelmingly dominated by men. Krawcheck recalled a day this summer that she pitched 18 male venture capitalists who demonstrated varying levels of engagement or aloofness during her presentation. “The lead investor was alternating between peppering me with questions and leaning back in his chair with his arms folded.” He even lectured Krawcheck on managing financial advisers, she says. “I was astonished, because I have managed more financial advisers in my career than probably anyone in the country.” Though it’s been years since she was sexually harassed the way she was in her junior banking days, that pitch serves as a good reminder of how deep gender views run. “Men are still seen as leaders and women as more junior,” Krawcheck said. “This man naturally assumed that he knew more about it than I did. It was his ingrained view of women — a view that’s costing all of us.”

Bring your baby to work … anytime: New parents at Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union can now bring their babies to the office with them, thanks to a program designed to help parents balance work and home responsibilities. “We understand the pressures and stress that all working parents face,” said president and CEO Mark Cochran. “For parents of infant children, we recognize that it is crucial for both the parent and their new baby to spend time together.” Credit unions across the country have similar programs. Hawaii First Federal Credit Union, for example, has had a program like this since 2011; according to CEO Laura Aguirre, it makes the workplace “more productive” and spreads “goodwill” across the organization. Credit Union 1 in Anchorage, Alaska, offers the “Little 1’s Learning Center” where children can play and learn from birth until they are eight years old. It has about 30 children at a time in the center, ranging from 13 months to nine years old, according to Chrissy Bell, its senior vice president of communications and culture.

Role call

Nicole Stokes, the chief financial officer at Ameris Bank in Moultrie, Ga., has been appointed CFO at its parent company, Ameris Bancorp, effective Jan. 1. The previous CFO at the parent company, Dennis Zember, will serve as CEO of the bank.

Alison Smith is joining Aquesta Financial’s board of directors, effective Jan. 1, raising the total number of board members from six to seven. She will be the second woman on the board.

In case you missed it

A day in the life: When a recruiter first told Kate Quinn about a job opportunity at U.S. Bank, her response was, “I’ve never heard of U.S. Bank,” to which the recruiter responded, “That’s exactly why they need you.” Now U.S. Bank's chief administrative officer and vice chairman, Quinn has increased its name recognition and improved customer loyalty. “There were multiple versions of vision statements floating around the company,” she said. “The company had grown through acquisitions, and though the spirit was there, it wasn’t unified.” Quinn shared her diary of a day in her life here. (She also made American Banker’s Women to Watch list in 2016 and 2017.)

FDIC bound: Jelena McWilliams, the chief legal officer for Fifth Third Bancorp, will be nominated as the next chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Beyond banking

The Person of the Year: Time magazine has named “The Silence Breakers” as its 2017 Person of the Year, recognizing the women and men who shared their stories of sexual harassment and assault and helped force a nationwide reckoning. On the cover are five women, including actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, whose accusations against Harvey Weinstein contributed to his downfall; activist Tarana Burke, creator of the #MeToo movement; and Alyssa Milano, who amplified it on social media. Excluded from the Washington Post’s description of the magazine cover is Taylor Swift, arguably the most famous woman in the group of five. She is turning out to be a controversial choice, being the queen of silence and all.

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