BNY Mellon's Karen Peetz was named the Most Powerful Woman in Banking this year, while KeyCorp's Beth Mooney has graduated to Hall of Fame status. JPMorgan Chase's Mary Callahan Erdoes is the Most Powerful Woman in Finance for the fourth year in a row.
Bank of the West's Nandita Bakhshi tops the Women to Watch list. She left TD Bank earlier this year to become chief executive of Bank of the West, becoming the fourth woman to head a top-40 bank. The other three are Mooney, Ally Bank's Diane Morais and CIT's Ellen Alemany, who came out of retirement almost a year ago to lead CIT Group and is now No. 2 on the Watch list. Mary Mack sits at No. 3 with a rocky road ahead of her, as she works to rebuild trust with Wells Fargo customers following Wellsgate.
There are some newcomers to the honoree lists to read about too, including Mary Ann Scully of Howard Bank in Ellicott City, Md., Teresa Tanner of Fifth Third Bancorp, Rosilyn Houston of BBVA Compass, Karen Glenn of First United Bank and Trust Co. in Kentucky and Claudine Gallagher of BNP Paribas.
Hall of Fame
American Banker inducted Beth Mooney, chief executive of KeyCorp, into its newly created Hall of Fame for three-peat winners of the Most Powerful Woman In Banking award. Under Mooney's leadership female representation among corporate officers has grown to 25%; Key has one of the most diverse boards of directors in the industry.
Mooney's stature was highlighted by Key's $4.1 billion purchase of First Niagara, the industry's second-largest acquisition by deal value since the financial crisis and throughout which the company remained committed to low- and middle-income borrowers and expanding community development lending by $4.5 billion.
Mooney likes the idea of the Hall of Fame because it meshes with her philosophy of helping to make way for and elevate future female leaders, but her trailblazing days aren't over.
"American Banker names a most powerful banker every year, so in my mind, I'm not out of your game yet," she said. "You should not think of me just as a woman banker. I'm a CEO in our industry whose bank is doing lots of interesting things."
Profiles in Courage
Empathy Matters: BBVA Compass' chief talent and culture officer, Rosilyn Houston, has spent most of her career in banking. But for a short while in 2004, she left for a brief stint at a Christian organization in Dallas, where she was general manager — a big job in which she oversaw 200 employees. That's when her almost-2-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia. Following his illness, Houston returned to banking, joining what is now BBVA Compass as a senior vice president, accepting challenge after challenge until she got to her role today. She's responsible not for overseeing typical HR functions — like payroll and benefits — but also transforming the bank's culture. "This is a journey," Houston said. "We started a real intense focus on cultural transformation at the end of last year and we know it's going to take three to five years to get to where we are comfortable." Her empathy is essential to that job, and she's keenly aware that many employees come to work every day with their own personal struggles. Having suffered "a number of life blows" — she battled cancer herself and lost her mother to the illness — "that could have knocked me off course." Creating a workplace that is viewed as compassionate is one of her top priorities. "Part of being an effective leader is being sensitive to what individuals go through day in and day out, not only in the job, but in life."
Fear of the Unknown: Some bankers are proud of making it through the financial crisis. Imagine doing that while also contending with a personal crisis. When Karen Glenn, was chief financial officer of First United Bank and Trust in Madisonville, Ky., her 5-year-old son had battled non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and she often worked from his hospital room — just as she had pulled through a separate health crisis, with his twin brother. "The way I looked at it was that my boys needed me to do this," Glenn said of her decision to keep working through Ethan's treatments, instead of taking her extended leave. "This was our life, our livelihood. I had to make it work." That was in late 2009. Six months after her son completed his cancer treatments, she was promoted to president and chief executive of First United. She hesitated at first to accept the job — at the time she lived an hour away from the bank's headquarters and the job required her to move. But since becoming CEO she has substantially improved the bank's performance, posting a record profit last year, and spearheaded its first acquisition. "I came very close to saying 'no' because of the fear of the unknown," Glenn said. It was going to change my life so much." However, "not having a career has never been an option for me," she said. Today the boys are in middle school and thriving.
The Ripple Effect: JPMorgan Chase's new general counsel, Stacey Friedman, is a tough financial litigator, the only woman to serve as the general counsel of a systemically important U.S. bank and a fighter for social justice. When she became a partner at the high-powered Wall Street law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, she opted to take on a more visible role in the push for LGBT rights. At that time, she was one of 30 women, out of 172 partners, and the first to be openly gay. "You realize that it has a ripple effect," she said. (Beth Mooney said something similar at the Most Powerful Women in Banking ceremony last year.) "If people are going to laud you and notice you for it, then you should make sure you use that as a platform for change." Friedman has taken on high-profile pro bono cases in recent years, including one that successfully struck down a ban on gay adoption in Arkansas. Earlier this year, she expanded the pro bono program at JPMorgan, implementing a three- to six-month paid fellowship for attorneys to work on a legal service project. "It's undeniable that all of the things that make all of us up are obstacles or benefits along the way, and I wouldn't look at that fact of my life and assume it was never an obstacle — of course it was," Friedman said of her sexual orientation and gender. And although she has always been surrounded by supportive colleagues, she said, "that isn't the case in every corner of every financial institution or every company."
The Power of Storytelling: When it comes to supporting women in banking, Barclays' vice chairman of investment banking, Barbara Byrne, wants to do more than the usual basics (like mentoring). Over the past year she has exercised her storytelling power as a producer on indie film "Equity," a Wall Street thriller that aims to flip viewers' expectations about gender and finance on their heads. The film has all female lead characters, directors, producers and financial backers. One reason "Equity" is so effective is it doesn't sugarcoat the way women treat each other; it puts women in the same cutthroat roles typically reserved for men. "This is not a sisterhood movie," she said. Known today for her outspoken style, she was shy when she took her first job at Lehman Brothers in her 20s, calling herself better suited for a library than an investment bank. "I am a forceful personality, but I did not spring from the womb that way," she said. Harvey Krueger, a longtime executive at Lehman, brought her out of her shell. She recalls a time she prepared a presentation for him to give to the board of a major company. He asked her if she thought he was capable of giving it. She said yes. "So he said, 'Well, why don't you get up there and just pretend you're me?'" Byrne said. She followed that advice over the next few years, developed her own sense of confidence and characteristic style in the process, and now passes the advice on to her employees.
Bank of New York Mellon's president Peetz will retire at the end of the year. She announced her retirement the same day she was honored as American Banker's Most Powerful Woman in Banking for 2016. Peetz was also ranked No. 1 in 2011 and has been ranked among the top five in each of the last eight years.
JPMorgan Chase's Thasunda Duckett has been named chief executive officer of consumer banking, as part of one of the bank's periodic management reshufflings. Duckett, one of our 25 Women to Watch this year and last, was previously CEO of the bank's auto finance arm.
Top Teams 2016
From fostering strong mentorship programs, to fighting for pay equity, to making firm commitments to diversity, these five executive teams are helping to change the face of the banking industry.
BMO Financial: The U.S. unit of Bank of Montreal has launched a micromentoring program that allows employees to get targeted coaching on specific skills. Less formal and shorter-term than mentoring as we know it, the micro mentoring program is designed to help women improve very specific skills, like time management, and supplement other long-term mentoring relationships they may have already.
Centric Financial: The Pennsylvania community bank is one of the few publicly traded banking companies with women in the chief executive and chief financial officer roles. It's also distinctive for its enviable growth and performance. That's no coincidence, says CEO Patti Husic, who makes sure there are women among the candidates any time there is an opening. (There's more on female CEO-CFO teams here.)
JPMorgan Chase: Women at JPMorgan don't just settle for the formal check-the-box networking groups. Their grassroots efforts have launched multiple programs to raise the profile of women at the company and help them advance, including a new "30-5-1" campaign inspired by CFO Marianne Lake. Other examples include the globe-trotting Women on the Move initiative and the ReEntry program to help ex-bankers return to the workforce after extended time off.
KeyCorp: There's a lot to be done now that KeyCorp has closed on its deal for First Niagara, and it's telling who has been put in charge of the many different facets of the integration. While some companies might have just a few token women on their leadership team, Key can boast about the diversity of its bench strength.
Zions Bank: For several years, Zions Bank has monitored salaries to ensure women aren't being paid less than men for comparable work. Last year, the monitoring went from a semiannual review to a constant lookout.
And Don't Miss …
Do the Right Thing: The staff at the Securities and Exchange Commission is working on a proposal to amend the current diversity disclosure rule to require more specificity, including information on the race, gender and ethnicity of board members and nominees. "Diversity contributes to high-quality decision-making and generating the best ideas," writes SEC chair Mary Jo White. "Companies that have proactively embraced diversity deserve to be recognized as leaders of the change that is not only the right thing to do, but also benefits their companies."
D.C. Doyennes: Candi Wolff of Citigroup and Anita Eoloff of Wells Fargo are two of the most powerful banking lobbyists in Washington, but they don't think the transformation of their once male-dominated field is done, nor do they think everything about the past should be abandoned. "We have to be careful about telling the story of what works and what doesn't," Eoloff said of fostering diversity. Still, "you have got to be able to speak to all sides, and sometimes you might be surprised" at where there might be some agreement.
Stay Woke: Executives at BBVA Compass, JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank and Kentucky's First United Bank talk about unconscious bias, the power of perception and strategies for dealing with gender bias in this video. "Sexism isn't an -ism, it's just the way in which people operate," says Barclays' Barbara Byrne. Some men operate the way women typically do; some women operate the way men typically do. Executives need be open "but you need to call it out, tone it down — with humor and compassion."