Gender-Lens Stock Picking: Companies with predominantly female leaders perform better than those led by men, studies suggest. Data compiled by Bloomberg shows three out of six publicly traded investment funds that specialize in women-run firms are outperforming their benchmarks. But is investing in such companies about making a difference or making a profit? Eve Ellis, who runs Morgan Stanley's Parity Portfolio, says that when so-called gender-lens stock picking is done the right way "you don't need to sacrifice financial returns for social returns." However, whether a company is diverse because it's run well or the other way around is hard to prove. And picking stocks solely on the basis of the number of women in the C-suite is "simplistic … surface-level investing" because the composition of management "doesn't necessarily mean they're doing good things for all women," according Barbara Krumsiek, senior industry fellow of Georgetown University's Women's Leadership Institute. Michelle Edkins, global head of corporate governance at BlackRock, lobbies companies to appoint more women to leadership, and the firm manages several socially responsible investments, none specifically focused on women.
Women on Boards: The number of women on bank boards worldwide has grown significantly since 2001, according to a report issued this week by the International Monetary Fund. Still, they account for less than 20% of directors — although there appear to be more women (23%) on boards of bank supervisory and regulatory agencies in low-income countries in 2015, compared with advanced and emerging economies. Further, out of 800 banks across 72 countries, just 15 had female CEOs in 2013. The IMF says such a low share of female representation in the sector could warp banks' risk-taking behavior, quality of supervision and financial stability outcomes, as companies with a high proportion of female board directors appear to have more "distance to distress" — the amount of buffers banks have against shocks to earnings.
Blockchain Business: Now that blockchain technology is winning fans inside the traditional financial services world, banks are looking for ways to incorporate it into their business operations. Much of its initial appeal has been in cross-border and instant payments. Many banks are tinkering with it and seeking third-party experts who can help facilitate their efforts. Morgan McKenney, global head for cross-currency payments at Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions, said smart experimentation is about learning on the run and picking the right practical applications to pursue. Collaborating with external partners — especially with vendors and fintech companies that offer different viewpoints — is critical to the process. Cheryl Gurz, managing director and emerging technology segment manager at Bank of New York Mellon Treasury Services, said such new ideas, combined with bankers' own institutional knowledge, make her company more "agile." "We've had the benefit of extremely smart people opening our eyes to different things but not everyone has that same baseline," she said.
Citizens Financial Group in Providence, R.I., has named Christine Cumming, a former Federal Reserve Bank of New York executive, to its board. She was chief operating officer at the New York Fed, the second-highest ranking officer at the institution, and first vice president, a position she had held since 2004 until her retirement in June.
The California Department of Business Oversight, which regulates financial services and products, has promoted Debie Abella to head of bank regulation and supervision. She was previously regional deputy commissioner of the division of bank examinations for Northern California.
Umpqua Holdings Corporation in Portland, Ore., has added Luanne Calvert, Virgin America's chief marketing officer, to its Board of Directors, effective Sept. 25. Calvert previously worked at Google as creative director and at Yahoo as marketing director.
MUFG Americas Holdings in New York has hired Donna Dellosso as chief risk officer for Union Bank and for its other operations in the Americas. She was previously managing director and chief risk officer at JPMorgan Chase's main bank unit.
Linda Hamilton was named chief operating officer of IF Bancorp in Watseka, Ill. Previously she was chief operating officer at Freestar Bank in Champaign, Ill.
CIT Group in New York named Dorene Dominguez to the board of its banking unit. Dominguez is chairman of the Vanir Group in Sacramento, Calif., and once served as a director at American River Bank.
Zions Bancorp., in Salt Lake City, has made former SunTrust exec Karin Lockovitch director of compliance. Before joining SunTrust, she ran regulatory risk management at Ally Financial.
C1 Financial in St. Petersburg, Fla., announced that vice chairman and bank president Katie Pemble quit on Friday. The company did not give a reason for her departure or disclose a plan for filling her posts.
In Case You Missed It
A Non-Briton British Banker: The British Bankers Association's board of directors is about to get its first non-Brit chair, and incidentally, its first female chair. Noreen Doyle, a 66-year-old Irish-American Credit Suisse director, is set to take the wheel Oct. 17. She was chosen mainly for her four decades' experience in the banking industry, but with more than half of BBA members based outside the U.K., her international profile matches theirs. Prominent U.K. lenders run by non-Britons include Lloyds, Standard Chartered and RBS (the lobbying group also added Goldman Sachs to its membership this year). Further, the issue of Britain's E.U. membership is top priority for many of them, who run large operations in The City of London and worry about the potential consequences of a "Brexit," should the country vote to leave the economic union. The BBA's leadership change is timely; the British referendum on E.U. membership is expected to take place before the end of 2017 and could come as early as next year.
Hollywood Heroine: This Fortune feature charts the rise up the ranks of perhaps the most powerful woman in Hollywood. Lucasfilm president and Star Wars: The Force Awakens producer Kathleen Kennedy is one of the most prolific producers in Hollywood, though you wouldn't know it, since she's worked in the shadows over her 40-year career, but alongside legends like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. The secretary-turned-studio boss landed her first job as filmmaker John Milius' secretary as he was working on Spielberg's 1941. She has worked on Jurassic Park, E.T., and Schindler's List and now she — not Lucas — is the producer of one of the most highly anticipated films of the last 20 years. Lucas told Fortune, "She was one of the guys." And while she's always been comfortable working in environments driven by male ego, hiring and mentoring female managers have been important to her (more than half of her 18-person executive team are women).
Saudi Women at Work: Olayan Financing Co. is a family-owned multinational conglomerate based in Saudi Arabia. When Lubna Olayan began working there she was the only woman of 4,000 employees. Eighteen years later, at which point she had become CEO, the company hired her first female colleague. "I was privileged to be a woman CEO of a large family business," she says. "I recognized there is something wrong with this — I can't be the only woman." Now she's on a mission to help other Saudi women enter the workforce. She has helped expand female representation at Olayan to 400 employees (3% of the total) based in Saudi Arabia. In an extremely conservative country where women have traditionally been excluded from the workforce, just 19% of them work today, according to recent World Economic Forum figures. Olayan's goal is to employ 1,000 women by 2016 in each of OFC's 30 companies and at all levels of the organization.