Women in Banking

JPMorgan’s blockchain leader switch and other women in tech

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Modernizing mortgages (part one): KeyCorp is ditching its antiquated legacy system with the goal of modernizing its lending process, said Amy Brady, its chief information officer. As part of the overhaul, Key will consolidate from three systems to two for its consumer lending portfolio. “Normally you don’t want to touch these systems,” Brady said, “but to give clients the digital experience and self-service they are asking for — we felt there was a business case to do this.” Brady expects to complete the implementation, beginning with mortgages, in 2019 and migrate about 1 million loans onto the new systems. “It will really simplify the environment,” she said. “A lot of back-office processes will move to digital, eliminating manual steps and paper in the workflow.”

Modernizing mortgages (part two): Bank of America is rolling out a mostly digital mortgage that is expected to be available nationwide by Monday. Michelle Moore, BofA’s head of digital, worked closely with Steve Boland, managing director of consumer lending, to implement the service, which cuts in half the time it takes to get to closing. Much of the process has been streamlined, and can be completed through the website or mobile app, though the closings will still be done in person. “If there are documents we need from you, you can use the picture-taking capability to take a picture of the documents, you can e-sign documents, we have to-do lists for you, we have the connection to the home loan officers,” said Moore, who was our Digital Banker of the Year in 2017. “It really is an end-to-end experience.”

Plans after Parkland: Bank of America has had "intense conversations over the last few months" with firearms manufacturers and plans to stop lending to those that make assault-style guns used for nonmilitary purposes, according to Vice Chairman Anne Finucane. BofA also will no longer underwrite securities issued by manufacturers of military-style guns used by civilians. Finucane’s comments, which aired in a Bloomberg Television interview, mark the first time the company has publicly addressed how it will deal with gun-industry clients following the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting in February. Citigroup has issued new restrictions as well, saying last month that it will not work with businesses that offer bump stocks or sell guns to anyone who is younger than 21 or hasn't passed a background check.

Raise your hand: A restructuring at UBS Wealth Management has created a bigger role for Paula Polito, who is now global head of client strategy and is one of 10 people on the newly formed Global Executive Committee. Polito was profiled in this story by a local news outlet in Naples, Fla., where she lives with her husband. It offers an overview of her unusual career path and her supportive management style. Ryan McLaughlin, a branch manager for a UBS office in Greenville, S.C., credits Polito with fueling her confidence and helping advance her career. Polito encouraged her to "raise her hand" for her first management role, overseeing a team of eight in the marketing department at UBS. "She said, 'You can do this and I will help you,'" McLaughlin said. "She challenges you to be the best you can be."

COO roles on the rise: UBS Investment Bank’s chief operating officer, Bea Martin, arrived at the firm at a tumultuous time back in 2012. As chief of staff to the president of the investment bank, Andrea Orcel, she was responsible for helping Orcel with “the separation of the good bank from the bad bank,” she said. Now she’s in the upper strata of UBS women in a role that's been changing for as long she’s been working up to it, becoming “the glue between the front and back office,” she said. “I would say, 10 years ago, half the investment banks on the Street didn’t even have a COO, and if they did, it was probably more of an operations person. The scope of the role has changed over the last five years, and for us it is there to enable the businesses to implement their strategy.” Technology has changed banking operations significantly in the past 10 years and will only continue to do so over the next 10, she added. But she does not think the bank is morphing into a tech firm. “This industry is changing at a huge pace and I do think that we will make use of technology to make those changes. But are we going to be another Google? Personally, I don’t think so — I don’t think we’re going to turn into a pure technology company — but we will be much more technology dependent.”

Drivers of change: Real-time payments, blockchain, artificial intelligence, cyber fraud – the women heading JPMorgan Chase’s treasury services for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region touched on all of these topics as they talked about how technology is reshaping their business in an extensive interview with The Banker. The challenge is not just adapting to the rapid changes as a company, but helping clients do so as well. “Even if our clients don’t yet see the immediate applicability of instant payments, we are building these discussions into our dialogue so that they can build out their thinking,” said Sue Dean, head of the treasury services business. “We don’t lock them into a structure that means that they can’t flex quickly. We are bringing as open an architecture as possible in our product capabilities.” Besides covering the technical side of what they do, the women lauded the focus on diversity in their business: In 2017, 50% of all hires within JPMorgan’s EMEA treasury services were female – a ratio that is up by 50% from the prior year. Joining Dean in the interview were: Alison Livesey, head of legal entity strategy for treasury services; Katia Karpova, head of client service and implementations; Lori Schwartz, head of liquidity solutions; and Sara Castelhano, core cash product head.

Will Chanda Kochhar quit?: In the past few weeks, an unprecedented series of events has rattled India’s banking sector and put two high-profile female chief executive officers in the line of fire. Following accusations of questionable business dealings, pressure is mounting on Chanda Kochhar of ICICI Bank, India’s second-largest private bank. An investor in both ICICI and the Videocon Group has filed a complaint against Kochhar, alleging “abuse of her position as the CEO" in facilitating an “unscrupulous” transaction between the then-chairman of Videocon, Venugopal Dhoot, and Kochhar’s husband, Deepak Kochhar. Though the controversy has already led to problems for the bank – including a warning from Fitch Ratings about “reputational risk” – ICICI’s board continues to back her. Separately, a ballooning pile of bad loans at Axis Bank, India’s third-largest private bank, prompted regulators to ask the board there to remove CEO Shikha Sharma. Sharma subsequently decided to step down as of June 1. The troubles at the two banks are the focus of this well-written Livemint story.

Maine’s gains: Community banks are “in the midst of a sea of change” as far as opportunities for women, according to Pat Weigel, president and CEO of Norway Savings Bank in Maine. Weigel is one of nine women on her bank's 11-person executive team. Beth Mooney, chairman and CEO of KeyCorp, which employs 450 people at 49 branches in Maine, also talks in this story about how women have advanced in the industry since she started and her obligations as a trailblazer to help further that progress. "I graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa," Mooney said. Nonetheless, in job interviews early on, “people asked me how fast I could type.” In Maine, women lead 27 of the state's 56 credit unions. They include Julie Marquis, of Five County Credit Union in Bath, who worked her way up from teller to president and CEO. "Many credit unions were started by women at kitchen tables," Marquis said. But Liz Hayes, president and CEO of Infinity Federal Credit Union in Westbrook, pointed out that the percentage of C-suite women drops off dramatically for credit unions with more than $250 million in assets.

Confirmed: The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has selected John Williams as its next president — despite harsh criticism over the lack of diversity in its senior roles. Williams, the president of the San Francisco Fed, will succeed William Dudley in the New York role.


Ethical AI: Will technology actually improve lending decisions or just replicate the flaws that humans have? In this podcast, Cathy Bessant, chief operations and technology officer at Bank of America, shares her thoughts on artificial intelligence, in particular how companies can prevent biases from creeping into the software used in the loan process. She also discusses the need to build an ethical framework for the development and use of AI software.

Role call

Amber Baldet, the blockchain program lead at JPMorgan Chase, is leaving the company to start her own business venture. Christine Moy, a senior product manager in JPMorgan’s Blockchain Center of Excellence and Baldet’s first hire to the blockchain team, will succeed her. Baldet had been responsible for overseeing product development for Quorum, JPMorgan’s enterprise blockchain which, some say, has been getting a disappointing level traction with other banks. Recent rumors have suggested JPMorgan might spin off that business.

Social Finance named Michelle Gill as its next chief financial officer, filling a role that has been vacant since last summer. Gill joins SoFi from TPG Sixth Street Partners. She previously spent 14 years at Goldman Sachs trading mortgages and other consumer finance debt products.

Marlene Debel, an executive vice president at MetLife currently serving as interim CFO, has been appointed to lead the retirement and income solutions unit. Debel replaces Robin Lenna, who retired March 1 after leading the unit for 12 years. The move comes after a February announcement about a $510 million pre-tax charge related to unpaid annuity benefits affecting about 13,500 people.

Beyond banking

Redressing the dress code: General Motors’ Mary Barra recently told the story of how she cut her company’s 10-page dress code to two words: “Dress appropriately.” The simple statement allowed the CEO to show employees she trusts their judgment, which she said was a liberating experience. “What I realized is that you really need to make sure your managers are empowered — because if they cannot handle ‘dress appropriately,’ what other decisions can they handle? And I realized that often, if you have a lot of overly prescriptive policies and procedures, people will live down to them,” she said. The policy, while empowering for all employees, is particularly so for women, for whom dressing for work has never been more confusing. “Prescriptive dress codes from employers, at their core, represent institutional fear that workers can’t (or won’t) present themselves respectfully,” writes Quartz’s Leah Fessler. “This is a paternalistic assumption to make of any willfully employed adult — but it’s particularly damning when that employee is a woman, and the rule-setter is a man who’s never spent a day in heels or a pencil skirt.”

Statue stats: The granddaughter of Ida B. Wells is working to get a monument built in her honor. Wells, who had been born into slavery, was a journalist who brought international attention to the lynching of African-Americans across the South in the 1890s. The statistics in this story about the effort to honor Wells are surprising. The National Park Service recognizes 152 monuments in the United States and only three (that’s 2%) are dedicated to women: Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park, Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument and Rose Atoll. The park service also recognizes 30 national memorials, and not one is dedicated to a woman.

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Digital mortgages Blockchain Community banking Diversity and equality Bank of America JPMorgan Chase Women in Banking