Turnaround Captain: Banking veteran Virginia Varela prides herself on her ability to "right a ship that's either going down or is lost at sea." That's what she has done in her current job as the chief executive of the $127 million-asset Golden Pacific Bank in Sacramento, Calif., transforming it into one of the largest originators of Small Business Administration loans in its market. "A community bank understands small businesses because a community bank is a small business," she says. Varela also was one of the first female bank examiners for the U.S. Treasury Department and has worked at the Federal Reserve and Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco.
Banking and Tech Go Together: Technology may be critical to financial services, but Bank of America's Cathy Bessant cautions that banks can't act too much like fintech companies. She says one big distinction between the two is that B of A's customers demand reliability, so it doesn't have the luxury of being able to experiment and fail the same way fintech companies can. Still, innovation doesn't have to only happen in Silicon Valley. "Not all wine that is great is made in Napa," she says. (You may recall Bessant had previously argued that "financial institutions are fintech companies," but even then she had emphasized that banks had to think about innovation in very practical terms. She suggested at the time that banks focus on "directed innovation" by either solving a problem or creating a new capability that attracts customers.)
Even the Playing Field: Community banks are urging regulators to be tougher on fintech startups, arguing that the lack of regulatory scrutiny for these companies is dangerous. The Independent Community Bankers of America questioned the strength of marketplace lenders in particular, citing recent problems that several of them have had with liquidity, earnings and compliance. Karen Thomas, senior executive vice president at the trade group, wrote in a letter to regulators that marketplace lenders need to be "subject to safety and soundness supervision and regulation." For their part, fintechs have rejected the idea that they've thrived in a regulatory vacuum, arguing that they too must comply with rules about consumer lending, debt collection and credit.
Victim or Villain?: The prosecution of former Countrywide Financial executive Rebecca Mairone shows just how hard it is to assign blame for the events that caused the financial crisis. In 2013, a jury had found Mairone liable for civil fraud. Her case had been one of the few successes — for the government — where an individual employee at a financial services company was charged with a crime. "That is something I think about a lot," she says. "Why me?" But last month a federal appeals court decided not to uphold the charges or the $1 million penalty against Mairone. Marione denies any mistakes or wrongdoing in a controversial mortgage-approval program she helped create at Countrywide, called "Hustle." On the eve of her trial in 2013, she refused an offer to settle if she would admit to wrongdoing. In an interview published Wednesday, she maintained, "I wouldn't have done anything differently."
Carolyn Berkowitz stepped down as president of the Capital One Foundation in McLean, Va., to pursue other opportunities. She was succeeded by Catherine Foca, who has been the foundation's vice president for programs and operations for the past seven years.
All-Female Ticket?: Media outlets declared Hillary Clinton the winner of the Democratic nomination Monday night and have started speculating about who could be her running mate. Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren is rumored to be a contender, but would she even want the job? Warren could end up giving more than she gets if she aligns herself with Clinton, The Atlantic argues. Doing so could hurt her credibility among progressives and her reputation for being uncompromising. While Clinton's victory is a political milestone, she isn't the first female presidential nominee. She is at least the seventh after Victoria Woodhull (1872), Belva Lockwood (1884), Margaret Chase Smith (1964), Shirley Chisholm (1972), Ellen McCormack (1976) and Lenora Fulani (1988 and 1992). You can read more about these other would-be female presidents here.
Fixing the Pay Gap: Stanford University labor economist Myra Strober has some tangible ideas for what companies can do to foster gender equality. To help ensure that all the best candidates are considered for promotions — and women are not overlooked — managers should give employees stretch assignments to gauge who has the potential to advance, she says. Top executives also need to review disparities in pay and question middle managers about any gaps. "The American way, if you will, is to reward people who are valuable by paying them more. What's not fair is rewarding them because you think they're going to be more valuable before the game even starts," Strober says.
And One More Thing … Did you hear about how Ruth Porat was referred to as "the lady CFO" at the Alphabet shareholder meeting?
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