The line of succession: Banking is one of the last industries in which all the biggest companies are still run by men. This week one of the largest banks in the country seemed to move farther away from breaking that glass ceiling, while another talked up the possibility of doing so. Bank of America Chairman and Chief Executive Brian Moynihan said there is “a 50-50 chance” his successor will be a woman, given that his management team is “basically half women,” that “40 or 45% of the people in our company are managed directly by a woman” and that he’s working to ensure his board has a “very broad” set of candidates to choose from when it’s time to appoint someone. Five of the top 13 executives on Moynihan's leadership team are women: Chief operations and technology officer Catherine Bessant, human resources executive Sheri Bronstein, vice chairman Anne Finucane, corporate general auditor Christine Katziff and chief administrative officer Andrea Smith. At JPMorgan Chase, a female CEO suddenly looks less likely. The promotions of Daniel Pinto and Gordon Smith this week to co-presidents and co-chief operating officers makes them the apparent front-runners to succeed Jamie Dimon as CEO. The company did make a point of praising the work of Mary Erdoes, who is the CEO of the asset management unit, and Marianne Lake, who, as chief financial officer, runs its quarterly earnings calls and investor conferences.

On the rise: The general counsel at most large financial services companies is a man, but in 2017 women filled more than half of the top legal positions that opened up. The trend is likely to continue as the population of female lawyers swells and banks continue to diversify their senior ranks. Three of the newcomers are: Laura O’Hara, general counsel at M&T Bank; Ellen Fitzsimmons, general counsel at SunTrust Banks; and Karen Patton Seymour, co-general counsel at Goldman Sachs. Women now occupy 22% of general counsel positions at financial services firms in the Fortune 500; that figure is 26% across all Fortune 500 firms.

Laura O'Hara
Laura O'Hara is M&T Bank's general counsel.

Gametime: U.S. Bank will step onto the national stage this weekend when the Patriots and Eagles face off at the Minneapolis stadium where it holds the naming rights. Chief administrative officer Kate Quinn has been preparing for the big game for the bulk of her five-year tenure, she said in an interview this week. Quinn joined the company in 2013 as head of marketing and reputation strategy. Not long after, the NFL selected U.S. Bancorp’s home city for this year’s Super Bowl, and she knew it was a big opportunity. The timing of the Super Bowl is convenient for U.S. Bank, which launched a massive rebranding effort two years ago to try to change its reputation from what its CEO once called the “best bank no one’s ever heard of” to a more universally recognized brand. “It was an interesting shift to start to think about us as a national bank — and this is one big step toward that,” Quinn said.

Step one is talking about it: More than 70% of female mortgage professionals have experienced incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace, according to a recent Mortgage Bankers Association survey. Infractions are drastically underreported, but more industry executives are looking for ways to proactively address the problem, the survey found. "You'll see other surveys – some have higher percentages and some have lower percentages – but I do think the trend of women feeling comfortable and safe to report is one that is pretty consistently low," said Marcia Davies, the COO for the trade group. Davies is hopeful the survey will lead to broader industry discussion, which will result in companies taking steps to prevent sexual harassment. She also wants to “raise awareness among men and women in our industry of appropriate workplace behavior.”

A penny for your … Y chromosome: Now three of the largest U.S. banks say their female employees make at least 99 cents for every dollar earned by their male peers. Wells Fargo disclosed its gender pay gap Thursday and – in what is starting to feel very Groundhog Day – calculated the exact same disparity as Citigroup and Bank of America did, after taking into account factors such as tenure and geography. Since last spring, the investment firm Arjuna Capital has been pushing six banks and credit card companies to reveal their gender pay gap numbers, and that makes three down. The three companies that have not complied yet are Mastercard, American Express and JPMorgan Chase.

Storyteller in chief: The bank unit of JPMorgan Chase will soon roll out an animated GIF campaign on social media — something the bank hasn’t ever really done before, at least not at scale. The effort, intended to entice millennials to use its QuickPay peer-to-peer payments option, signals a necessary shift in banks’ digital marketing, said Donna Vieira, chief marketing officer for Chase’s consumer bank. “My job is to make sure we remain relevant with the way we storytell and engage. That means understanding how moments in life are changing,” Vieira said. “What is a small moment for one may not be for another. It’s not for me or Chase to judge whether that moment is big or small; it’s my job to understand that moment is important for the consumer.” What’s changing for marketers is, “the channels, mediums and media you use; the copy and creative form like memes and GIFs,” she said. “Clearly 15 years ago this would be nonexistent, but it’s how this audience communicates with each other, tells their stories and what they find engaging.”

Follow the money: With modern technology and improved data sharing, banks can make crime like human trafficking more risky and less profitable, said Jo Ann Barefoot, co-founder of Hummingbird Regtech and a former deputy comptroller of the currency. Human trafficking generates an estimated $150 billion a year, which becomes useless if traffickers can’t conceal the source of funds by laundering it through the banking system. A massive set of anti-money laundering regulations exist to combat human trafficking — as well as other illicit activities like terrorist financing, narcotics smuggling and weapons trafficking — but the regulatory effort isn’t working as well as it should. Financial crimes yield about $1.6 trillion annually, of which only 1% is intercepted. Catching that 1% costs banks about $50 billion a year. “Regtech could actually break the traditional zero-sum-game view of regulation by enabling a new generation of compliance that reduces costs and risk simultaneously,” Barefoot said. “Current regulatory systems were designed for the past, an analog era of paper-based processes and limited, costly data and computing power. Today a new ‘digitally-native’ model can leverage the cheap, abundant data and computing power of the digital age.”

WWMD?: Hadley Robbins had the difficult task of stepping in to lead Columbia Banking System after Melanie Dressel's unexpected death last year. Now his challenge is to keep expanding without disrupting the culture of the Tacoma, Wash., company that Dressel built into a regional powerhouse. Robbins’ transition from COO to CEO came at a traumatic time, and the executive team members adopted a mantra of “What would Melanie do?” to help guide them. “I discovered the first order of business was you have a team that is hurting,” Robbins said. “Your job is really to help that healing process.” As part of that effort, Columbia hosted a day of service in honor of Dressel, who was well known for her commitment to the community. More than 600 employees volunteered their time on a Saturday. (Dressel was one of our Most Powerful Women in Banking.)

Expansion plans: Bank Leumi CEO Rakefet Russak-Aminoach is preparing an international expansion of its mobile bank, Pepper. The bank also will continue with its aggressive cost-cutting effort. Russak-Aminoach said she plans to stay at Leumi for another two years to complete the digitalization of its back-office systems and, after that, might consider running a pure fintech firm. "I don’t want to stay here another five and a half years and I won’t go to be the CEO of another traditional large bank," she said.

Role call

Janet Yellen attended her last meeting as head of the Federal Reserve this week. In 2014 she became the first woman to lead the 105-year-old central bank and has since guided the U.S. economy to its tightest labor market in nearly two decades. Here’s a recap of her accomplishments, besides breaking the gender barrier.

Marvelle Sullivan Berchtold, a managing director at JPMorgan Chase, is co-leading its effort to create a "free from profit" healthcare company in partnership with Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway. Beth Galetti, a senior vice president at Amazon, and Todd Combs, an investment officer at Berkshire Hathaway who joined JPM’s board of directors last year, will spearhead the joint venture along with Berchtold. Here are five takeaways from this very surprising, and not very detailed, announcement.

Wells Fargo has hired Sarah Dahlgren, the former head of financial institution supervision at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, to oversee regulatory relations for its corporate risk group. Dahlgren, a partner at McKinsey, spent 25 years at the New York Fed.

KeyCorp in Cleveland has named Kim Manigault as its new chief diversity and inclusion officer. She will replace Poppie Parish, who retired from Key at the end of last year. Manigault previously was CFO for the company’s technology and operations organization.

Linda Huber, CFO at the rating firm Moody’s, will leave the company after more than a decade to pursue other opportunities. Huber agreed to remain for a transitional period as Moody’s searches for a successor.

Washington Trust Bancorp in Westerly, R.I., has announced that that Kristen DiSanto, its chief human resources officer, also will serve as corporate secretary.

First Horizon National in Memphis, Tenn., has hired Candace Steele Flippin as executive vice president and chief communications officer. Steele Flippin was previously divisional vice president of public affairs for Abbott Laboratories.

Candace Steele Flipping, executive vice president and chief communications officer at First Horizon National.
Candace Steele Flippin is the new chief communications officer for First Horizon National in Memphis, Tenn.

In case you missed it

A change is gonna come: The Saudi Arabian investment firm Emirates NBD Capital hired Mona Mohammed Al-Tawil to oversee syndicated loans, equity, debt capital markets and international wholesale banking. Previously the head of structured finance at HSBC Saudi Arabia, she’s among a growing number of women leading financial institutions in the country. Last year, Citigroup named Carmen Haddad to head its banking operations, Samba Financial Group appointed Rania Mahmoud Nashar as CEO, and Sarah Al Suhaimi, the CEO of NCB Capital Co., became the first woman to chair Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange. Saudi Arabia’s female unemployment rate is about 33%, according to government data, but the goal is to boost female participation in the workforce as part of an economic reform plan.

Beyond banking

Cultivating victims: About 80% of female farmworkers have been sexually harassed or assaulted, according to one survey, and because so many of them are illegal immigrants, they have few options but to put up with the abuse. Undocumented workers generally don’t know their rights, work in isolation, and don’t speak English. Often their only access to food and shelter is through their job. “They are in different parts of the country and don’t even know where they are, particularly for a migrant relying on a crew leader or someone to literally drive them state to state,” said Mónica Ramírez, the president of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, the association of farmworker women that submitted a signed letter of solidarity with Hollywood women. “They can’t access information to be able to get help. We have this huge problem with the immigration system and individuals don’t have a pathway. Perpetrators use their migration status to victimize them.”

Gender perceptions: A new poll from Berlin Cameron, The Female Quotient, and Harris Poll shows men and women aren't only eager to work with women — they also hope to be led by more women in the future. Half of the respondents (further broken down to 55% of women and 46% of men) indicated they would "prefer to work at a female-led company over a male-led company" and 81% of women as well as 59% of men said "when they see women in leadership positions, they're encouraged to believe that they can also have a leadership position.” The desire for female leadership ties into expectations about what that would be like. “The perception is when you have female-led companies, they're more purpose driven, and purpose-driven companies leads to higher retention of the workforce,” said Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient, who admitted the survey’s findings are based on perceptions rather than realities. In an MSN poll this summer, most men — and women — said they preferred to work with men.

Put your money where your mouth is: Johan Lundgren, CEO of budget airliner EasyJet, is taking a pay cut in the name of gender equality, cutting his own salary by $48,000 to match that of his female predecessor’s at $994,000. "At EasyJet we are absolutely committed to giving equal pay and equal opportunity for women and men," Lundgren said, adding that he wanted to demonstrate his personal support. In November the company reported a gender pay gap of 52%, citing higher salaries paid to its mostly-male pilots as the cause of the imbalance.

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