Mobile star: Bank of America’s Michelle Moore, American Banker’s 2017 Digital Banker of the Year, is obsessed with customer sentiment and looks daily at the one- to five-star ratings its mobile app gets. "I used to study the 'fives' to see why they liked us and the 'ones' to see why they hated us," Moore said. "But you have to pay as much attention to the twos, threes and fours. Look at everyone and study why they didn't give us a higher score.” In her two and a half years as head of digital, the bank’s active mobile users increased by about 50%. "We have 22 million users. It is not just an expense play, it is an experience play, it is a revenue play, it is a building-connections play," she said. "All roads lead back to mobile.” Be sure to check out this separate interview on the nonwork stuff, like family and personal goals.
Solid, not stellar: JPMorgan Chase is concentrating on growth in its credit card and mortgage businesses this year as it awaits more interest rate hikes to help boost profit margins, said Chief Financial Officer Marianne Lake. She expects a “solid, not stellar” second quarter and is hopeful for relief on capital requirements and stress testing. “Consumers are in very good shape, their balance sheets are repaired, they’re pretty liquid,” she said. So far regulatory relief has yet to emerge, though “key open roles” in the Trump administration, once filled, could result in some progress on that front, Lake said, without specifying which roles. “Nothing has actually changed,” she said. “And so when we come into work every day right now, we still need to work very hard to comply with the rules as they currently stand.”
Not for sale: Aggressive restructuring moves and stock buybacks are buying CIT time, but it will need to show growth in its core banking business to stave off calls for the company to sell itself. The turnaround plan laid out by Chief Executive Officer Ellen Alemany calls for CIT to hit a target of 10% return on equity by 2018. Falling short surely would make investors restless, but a CIT spokeswoman said it’s making “tremendous progress” toward its goal. The ROE was at 7.4% as of March 31.
Diversity problems: The founder and president of Anthemis Group, Amy Nauiokas, gets a first look at early stage fintech ideas and said, like any good investor, she takes her chances on people, not ideas. So many early stage companies fail that it's important to focus on people's ability to lead a company and foster a culture. And founders are “almost always” men, she pointed out, which is why it’s important to ask every company about their diversity plans. “If you started yesterday… you’re a founder… you don’t fix your problem, I’ve got no time for you,” said Nauiokas (who, incidentally, is an investor in Payoff, the company behind Joy, the all-male run PFM app for women, which you may recall reading about here last week.) “Goldman Sachs has done probably better than anyone at trying to bring more women to the table, but it is a multi-hundred-year-old organization from a time women weren’t in the workforce. We’re living in a different world and there’s no excuse for selling a product to a population that holds more than 50% of purchasing power and not having a female voice on your board or in your C-suite.” Be sure to also read Nauiokas’ BankThink piece on the gender imbalance in the startup sector.
The curvy career ladder: TIAA’s Kathie Andrade and BMO Financial’s Ann Marie Wright spoke at the Women in Banking LEAD conference in New York last week sharing their experiences on how to prosper in a challenging market. Advancing at work is often “more like a rock climb than a career ladder,” Andrade said. Sometimes the best move isn't necessarily directly one rung above. Similarly, Wright talked about the importance of considering positions that perhaps aren't part of your own grand plan. If she didn't listen to the people who led her to such opportunities, she wouldn't be where she is now, she said.
HarborOne Bank in Brockton, Mass., announced today that Linda Simmons has been named chief financial officer. Simmons succeeds Joseph Casey, who was appointed president in February. She joins HarborOne from the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod, where she had been CFO since 2012. She also is a member of the advisory board of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston.
In case you missed it
On the front lines: As technology has changed consumer expectations and lowered their attention spans, banks have a lot of adjusting to do. The onus isn’t just on bank tellers to create deep personal connections with customers. There has to be an effort made in the branch, on the website, in the mobile app, on social media and everywhere else the customer spends time, said Jennifer Breithaupt, Citi’s recently appointed global consumer marketing chief. She also talked about virtual reality and her personal goals with moving into a new role.
When bigger isn't better: Citi recently unveiled an agreement with Nasdaq that allows Citi to link its business payments services to Nasdaq's blockchain platform. It’s significant to witness a blockchain solution in the wild — banks often work in large consortia that require agreement by so many parties that it impedes the ability to ship a product quickly. What “helped translate the theoretical thinking to actual application” was to work in a “minimal viable ecosystem” of just a few trusted partners — to be able to get a product to market faster, and focus on scaling the network later, said Morgan McKenney, Asia Pacific head of core cash management, at Citi's treasury and trade solutions arm. “Everyone is used to a minimum viable product, how do you extend that thinking to something that’s going to involve multiple players?”
Gender complex: The general thinking is that venture capital firms with female senior investing partners are more likely to invest in companies founded by women. But that is not the case, at least among 17 top venture firms in this Bloomberg analysis. Michelle Zatlyn suggested one reason might be that, with so few women in the industry, they are concerned more with trying to fit in than they are with betting on female-led companies. “For a long time, I didn’t want to be a part of any of the female stories,” said Zatlyn, co-founder and head of user experience at Cloudflare. “I didn’t want to be labeled.” However, now, “It feels like there’s a point of view that’s missing,” she said. Others agreed that their gender helps them see value in different companies. “I consider it a competitive advantage,” said Jess Lee, who joined Sequoia last year after years leading Polyvore, the online fashion company. Compared to her male venture counterparts, “I have an advantage in understanding the female consumer.”
Pissing pug: #FearlessGirl was trending on Twitter again this week, after sculptor Alex Gardega — upset about the statue being placed across from Wall Street’s “Charging Bull” — decided to retaliate with a work of his own. Gardega created a statue of a small dog, titled “Pissing Pug,” taking aim at the girl’s left leg. “This is corporate nonsense,” Gardega said of “Fearless Girl,” referring to the fact that it was placed there by State Street Global Advisors. “It has nothing to do with feminism, and it is disrespect to the artist that made the bull.”
— Debra Messing (@DebraMessing) May 30, 2017
Wonder, men: Some men are upset about a women-only screening of the movie “Wonder Woman” at a theater in Austin, Texas. But the event sold out so fast that the theater added another women-only showing, which also sold out.