Financial Markets as a Rubik's Cube: AllianzGI Vice Chairman Elizabeth Corley said that solving the problems of the financial system is a never-ending game and that regulators should take a step back from trying to "fix" things. Market participants can resolve problems that have bedeviled the financial industry since the 2008 crisis without regulators getting involved, she argued. It's impossible to "regulate everything, because these are highly complex and difficult markets, and they change quickly," she said. "Once you solve one part of the Rubik's cube, there is another piece to solve. We solve yesterday's problems with legislation that is retrospective, rather than anticipating the future. I don't think [the financial system is] ever going to be fixed."
Changing the Rules: For those working to change the conversation about women in financial services, progress will require little victories as much as big ones. Each woman needs to fight her own battle and be careful not to fall into complacency, said the late Muriel Siebert, who is often referred to as the "first woman of finance" and is the subject of a profile by Time. Siebert opened doors for women on Wall Street, buying herself a seat on the New York Stock Exchange in 1967 and remaining the sole woman among the 1,365 men there for the next 10 years. The NYSE didn't have a ladies' restroom on the trading floor – an issue that became one of her early fights. "Not since I was a baby had so many people been so interested in my bathroom habits," she would say later. She also fought for women's access to New York's all-male lunch clubs, if only for the deal-making that took place inside them. As part of a series of history's unsung women, Time highlights some of Siebert's signature battles and accomplishments in an overview of her career.
Small Banks' Big Opportunity for Women: Data compiled by TKG shows 6% of 6,182 banking institutions have a female chief executive. The figure is remarkably low considering the same sample population shows 75%-77% of overall banking industry jobs are held by women. TKG broke the numbers down further and found the largest financial institutions have the fewest women in the CEO seat. Those with less than $100 million in assets represent 37% of financial institutions with female CEOs. Institutions with $100 million to $500 million in assets employ 47% of the female CEOs.
The Benefit of Being a B Corp: The $110 million-asset Community Capital Bank in Christiansburg, Va., recently became the second U.S. banking company to convert to benefit-corporation status. The bank is owned by a nonprofit, doesn't offer consumer lines of business and relies heavily on foundations, nonprofits and larger banks seeking Community Reinvestment Act credit for deposits and capital. It also has been keen to showcase its social mission. "It's a change in normal corporate practice," said Teri Lovelace, its chief impact officer. "It marries shareholder value with a public benefit."
#TheNew20: Harriet Tubman will replace Alexander Hamilton as the new face of the redesigned $20 bill, and Andrew Jackson will remain on the $10 bill, whose redesigned back will honor the suffrage movement. When the Treasury Department launched its campaign last year to select a woman for the new $20 bill, many were frustrated the more widely circulated $10 bill, which has the far less popular Jackson on the front, wasn't the one that would feature a woman instead. While many praised Treasury's choice of Tubman, a WaPo columnist argued that "there's no place for women – especially women of color – on America's currency today." Feminista Jones said that Tubman's face on the $20 would "cover up our nation's reality of historic and lingering disenfranchisement," and suggested that Tubman herself would see it the same way. "I do not believe Tubman, who died impoverished in 1913, would accept the 'honor,' were it actually bestowed upon her, of having her face on America's money," Jones wrote. "Until the economic injustice against women in America ends, no woman should." (Check out the $10 bill women in banking said they would like to see. A few of them, including Comerica's chief financial officer, Karen Parkhill, had been rooting for Tubman.)
Motherly Mush: "Take destiny in your own hands," "aim for the sky," "don't cut corners or compromise to achieve your dreams" – ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar wrote these motherly words of wisdom in an open letter to her daughter. Readers across the Internet have been melting over the letter, but one writer at Quartz complained that the advice is "safe and unimaginative" and lacks brutal honesty. Further, while Kochhar touched on the challenges of balancing her high-powered career with her family life, she failed to address the reality of how difficult that balance can be. "When successful women hint at the apparent ease with which they managed, it puts crippling pressure on others," the Quartz article says. "Young women are forced to think that they must have it all, even if they are up against relentless patriarchy."
Bair Talks Bank Breakups: Former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. chairman Sheila Bair is optimistic about the industry impact of banks' living wills, the Dodd-Frank-mandated plans big banks are developing to show how they would deal with bankruptcy without having to rely on a taxpayer bailout. Last week, five banks had their plans rejected. Speaking to Bloomberg, Bair said the government could deal with a failing institution without triggering a systemic impact, but that the living wills process still needs to play out. If, over time, the Federal Reserve and FDIC continue to designate a bank's plan not credible, they can raise its capital requirements or even order it to break up. Bair said the market might accelerate this process if regulators raise capital requirements even further, which makes it harder for banks to make a return on equity. She also said banks' shareholders are already feeling the pressure and beginning to analyze whether they would be better off if the institution were cut up into smaller pieces.
Wells Fargo has hired Kristi Mitchem, formerly of State Street, to be the president and chief executive of its asset management division.
Farmers Bank in Frankfort, Ind., has appointed Karen Gregerson president and CEO. Gregerson comes from Star Financial Group in Fort Wayne, where she has held numerous positions, including CFO. She is a director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis.
Banc of California in Irvine has named Cynthia Reeves and Janice Patterson senior directors for commercial banking. Both are City National Bank veterans.
Bank Leumi USA has hired Elsa Burton as its Los Angeles group head. She was previously with Citi Commercial Banking, and before that, Wells Fargo.
Building the Architecture Landscape: On March 31, architect Zaha Hadid passed away. Since her Pritzker Prize win in 2004, the ratio of female architects in the United States has grown to only 25.7%, from 24% back then. "We absolutely face obstacles. Every single day," one New York architect says. "Seeing a woman at the job site or in a big meeting with developers is not that common. Every single day I have to remind someone that I am, in fact, an architect. And sometimes not just an architect, but the architect." The Times received more than 200 responses to a questionnaire developed for female architects, in which they wrote candidly about their everyday challenges with their industry's boys club, unequal pay, work-life balance, the glass ceiling and the importance of mentoring. Sound familiar?
Gender Bias, By Both Genders: Entrepreneur Jodie Fox just raised $15.5 billion in Series B funding for her startup, Shoes of Prey, bringing the total investment to $24.6 million since it launched in 2009. But after a recent meeting with a potential investor that began with Fox getting a well-intentioned compliment ("you look amazing"), she wants to call attention to unconscious gender bias perpetuated in the workplace – by both men and women. "It's these seemingly innocuous comments that contribute to creating barriers for women professionally," Fox said. Her experience also highlights the lack (and decline) of female partners in venture capital firms. Female partners are more likely to invest in companies with female executives and three times more likely to invest in one with a female CEO. PayPal cofounder and Silicon Valley heavyweight Peter Thiel made similar comments last week, saying changing tech's bro culture begins with female founders and partners.
Going Down, Not Up: Women captured less than 3% of new CEO positions globally last year, the lowest level since 2011. Looking at the U.S. and Canada combined, less than 1% of newly appointed CEOs were women, the worst showing in the 16-year history of this PwC study and the third straight annual decline. In fact, Andrea Greenberg, who took the top post at MSG Networks Inc. after the company was spun off from Madison Square Garden Co., was the only example in the U.S. or Canada, PwC said. Womp womp.
A Woman's Worth: What do the world's wealthiest, self-made women have in common? Among other things, they have lower net worths ($288 million) than their male counterparts ($511 million).