Tough Act to Follow: Maria Vullo's confirmation as superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services is taking longer than expected and, as the industry waits, it also wonders how tough she'll be in her new role. The speculation is that she'll take a more conciliatory approach on enforcement matters than her aggressive, headline-grabbing predecessor, Ben Lawsky, who was known as a bank buster. But Vullo, now the acting superintendent, hasn't been able to set the tone for the agency with her confirmation in limbo. "There is an impression that the interim leader lacks the power" of a confirmed agency head, said Denver Edwards, a financial services attorney with the New York law firm Bryant Rabbino. Edwards doesn't expect Vullo to be seeking the spotlight as much as previous superintendents have in what is perhaps the industry's highest-profile state regulatory post. "I don't get the sense that she wants to appear on the 6 o'clock news," Edwards said. "She wants to work with the banking community." Vullo is expected to win confirmation before the state legislature adjourns in June.
What Year Is It?: A 27-year-old woman showed up for work as a receptionist at PwC in London in flats this past December — the horror. She got dismissed without pay on her first day after she refused to go out and buy a pair of two- to four-inch heels to wear instead. Now that she has started a petition asking the government to outlaw such discrimination — which got some media attention — the outsourcing firm that staffs the receptionist desk announced a change to its dress code to allow flats. But surprisingly, the firm had defended its stance at first, pointing out that Nicola Thorp had signed a paper agreeing to its "appearance guidelines." PwC seemed unhappy to be caught up in the issue, saying the dress code is "not a PwC policy" and referring questions to the outsourcing firm Portico.
Policy Debate, Please: Now it's Donald Trump vs. Elizabeth Warren in bite-size attacks, wherein Trump repeatedly calls Warren "goofy" and Warren calls Trump "dangerous" during a tweetstorm about Dodd-Frank and the minimum wage.
Eyes on Your Goals, Not the S&P: This week Sallie Krawcheck finally unveiled Ellevest, her digital investment platform for women. Ellevest shows its customers how they're progressing toward their goals and notifies them if they veer off course, offering advice for how to get back on track. "We don't judge her investing performance against the S&P," said Krawcheck, who is Ellevest's chief executive. "Just to compare it — as the industry does — versus the S&P is exactly the wrong comparison." The former Bank of America and Citigroup executive has been vocal about the gender investment gap in the months leading up to the launch of the robo-adviser, one of several new ones that are targeting women.
Bair Witness: A leaked report from the Office of the Inspector General shows former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. chairman Sheila Bair was one of 12 top agency officials targeted in a cyber breach. The FDIC failed to disclose the attacks, first detected in October 2010, to proper authorities, the report said.
Change Course as Needed: One way to achieve work/life balance is to emphasize work over life or life over the work at different times in your career, says Bank of America's Kathryn Black. "From a career progression perspective, there may be times you need to lean in or lean out, depending on your family," says Black, who is mid-Atlantic region executive at B of A. "There were times I had small children and I had to say, 'Ok, that is probably not a sustainable thing right now with so much West Coast travel.' But I was able to make a career change and stay with my company and have a job that didn't require as much travel."
BMO Harris has hired Deepa Soni as its U.S. chief information officer. She'll also be the technology CIO for its U.S. personal and commercial business group. Soni previously worked at M&T Bank Corp.
Standard Chartered has hired Cheri McGuire to be its chief information security officer. She joins from Symantec Corp., of Norton antivirus software fame. McGuire replaces interim head of information security Andy Wicks. She will be responsible for Standard Chartered's information and cyber security governance.
How Companies Drain Women's Ambition: Encouragement and communication can go a long way. A Bain & Company study found that, after women have been in a role for two years, their aspirations to advance and confidence at work tends to drop 60% and 50% respectively — independent of marriage, motherhood and other family life factors. The same study found men's confidence fell only 10%. Why the disparity between the sexes? Women indicated they don't feel they match the corporate ideal (a lack of female role models in higher positions perhaps?) and that their supervisors often don't provide them with the support they need. Some reported feedback like "you're not cut out for" top management, or "you don't really want it." Discussions around goals, career strategies and job satisfaction tend to happen more frequently with men than women, according to the authors of the study. Bain surveyed more than 1,000 men and women in a mix of U.S. companies.
10 Years Is Long Enough: Low turnover on company boards is hindering gender diversity initiatives. A majority of directors at 24% of the largest U.S. companies have held their seats for at least 10 years. That's up from 11% of large companies in 2005. Regulators in France and Hong Kong have taken action to slow the number of long-serving directors. For example, directors in France lose their independent status after 12 years. In the United States, if board members were considered insiders after 10 years, 30% of American companies' boards would no longer have an independent majority, according to a study by MSCI ESG Research.
Breaking News from Brazil: After an all-night debate, Brazil's Senate voted Thursday morning to suspend President Dilma Rousseff and begin an impeachment trial against her, causing celebration among citizens who are angry over government corruption. Rousseff characterized the move as a "coup" and a "great injustice."
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