A Female Treasury Secretary?: The U.S. has never had one before, but if Hillary Clinton wins the election in November, Lael Brainard could be in line for a top job in the cabinet. Clinton has said she intends to fill half of her cabinet with women, and the speculation is that Brainard, a Federal Reserve governor in Washington since 2014, would be a fit for U.S. trade representative or Treasury secretary. Brainard, whose outspokenness has helped raise her profile in Democratic circles, has long pressed the idea that the Fed should keep rates low so as not to stifle economic growth. More controversially, she also has argued that the Fed should consider how its decisions might impact other countries and work more closely with other central banks.
New Reality: Has post-crisis financial regulation made Wall Street's prized risk-taking culture more tame, guarded and paranoid? This article makes a case that it has. But not everyone is convinced that the change is meaningful enough to get the biggest players through the next crisis. "The industry is less complex than it was, it does have less leverage, and it is tamer," says Sallie Krawcheck, president of Bank of America's global wealth management division from 2009 to 2011 and now head of the robo-adviser Ellevest. "But is that enough? If a similar crisis were to happen again, would any of these institutions remain standing? I would guess the answer is no." Even so fines and job cuts are taking a heavy toll, and once-bustling firms that thrived on filling Wall Street's needs - like the interdealer broker Icap - are having to reinvent themselves to stay relevant in the new environment. "Banks are so stressed now," says Jenny Knott, chief executive of post-trade risk at Icap. "Surviving with the current margins isn't going to be achievable, and regulation is still coming. These guys have to take out costs over the next years. They have to turn stuff off as quickly as possible." To deal, Icap is transforming into a finch firm, planning to roll out an offering to banks later this year that will replace slow, outdated systems with a simpler one for reconciling and validating trading positions.
Secret Meeting: Thirteen chief executives (two of them women) met in secret to discuss concerns raised by Warren Buffet and JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon about "the sorry state of public companies" and the lack of trust shareholders seem to have. In an open letter to the business community, the group of CEOs called for more board diversity, discouraged earnings guidance, and suggested boards meet regularly with employees (and without the CEO being present), among many other things. Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of JPMorgan Asset Management, was one of the two women present; GM's Mary Barra was the other.
And How Does That Make Your Feel?: Some banks have started automating financial advice for their smaller investors, but Ascent Private Capital Management, a unit of U.S. Bancorp that works with the ultra-rich, goes far in the opposite direction with "strategic wealth coach" Kristen Armstrong and "senior family historian" Karen McNeill talking to clients about their feelings and helping resolve family conflicts. Armstrong is a psychologist who helps families sort through the emotional issues related to inheriting wealth. McNeill helps document the stories of how families have accumulated wealth and contributed to their communities. "A big portion of what we do is create safe environments for families to have the conversations they know they need to have, but haven't been able to have on their own," Armstrong says.
Dealing with Questions: Investors are keeping a close watch on how KeyCorp Chairman and CEO Beth Mooney and her team execute as the company moves closer to completing its deal with First Niagara. Analysts aired concerns Tuesday during Key's earnings conference call about the cost-cutting and revenue targets; Key is paying 168% of First Niagara's tangible book value.
Fifth Third Bancorp fired its chief legal officer, Heather Russell Koenig, over an undisclosed conflict of interest. Koenig, who previously worked at Bank of New York Mellon, had been with Fifth Third for 10 months. The company has begun searching for her replacement.
In Case You Missed It
Then and Now: Barclays vice chairman of investment banking, Barbara Byrne, is among a group of women who helped finance the forthcoming Wall Street thriller "Equity." In an interview with the New York Times, she shared some insights and war stories from Wall Street in the 1980s, when she covered the energy industry at Lehman Brothers. On sexism: "For women, you always had to prove you could to do the job before they give you the job, and for men, they would give them that opportunity before they proved themselves," and "there was always this view that 'she would run off and marry one of the Goldman partners' and be gone." On unequal pay: "People are paying you for your potential, but if they think you're going to leave, they can justify giving that 10 percent to someone else they think of as a long-term player," she said. "And yet, I've outlasted all those long-term players. I've now been doing this career for 36 years." (As you may recall, Byrne also spoke with us about the film last September.)
Breaking Barriers: Claire Calmejane, the director of innovation at Lloyds Banking Group, says treating gender as a differentiator instead of a barrier has helped lead her to her current job. Having studied IT engineering, she concedes that she faced unconscious bias and says, "it is true that I needed to develop a thick skin and a lot of 'franc-parler' (learning to speak frankly)." But she says most of her challenges today are not gender specific. Check out this wide-ranging interview about role models, career challenges, and the effort to support women at Lloyds.
Neither/Nor: At the Republican convention Ivanka Trump spoke out on equal pay and family leave, essentially echoing two of Hillary Clinton's signature policy positions. She also said, in her introduction of her father at the RNC, that she does not consider herself "categorically Republican or Democrat."
Another Crack in the Ceiling: The Democratic convention formally nominated Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination Tuesday. It was the first time a woman received the presidential nomination from a major political party. So, when reporting this historic news, who did a lot of newspapers show in their front page photos? Her husband Bill. Among the many tweets complaining about this is one from Heidi N. Moore: "I'm so annoyed about keeping Hillary Clinton off the front page because women are literally erased from history every day, made invisible."