Mixed messages: JPMorgan Chase Chairman and Chief Executive Jamie Dimon frequently touts the fact that half of the 10 executives on his senior leadership team are women and half of the company’s employees are women. But it is not setting the same example in its boardroom. There are only two female candidates on the ballot for election to its 12-member board of directors: Mellody Hobson, president of the Chicago-based money manager Ariel Investments, and Linda Bammann, a retired deputy head of risk management at JPMorgan, who joined the board in 2013. The ratio of female to male directors works out to 17%, compared with 41.67% at Wells Fargo, 33.33% at Bank of America and 31.25% at Citigroup. Goldman Sachs’ ratio is 18%. Women's presence on the JPMorgan board has stayed constant since November 2016. Dimon is showing leadership by growing the pipeline of female executives who could be qualified to serve as corporate directors in the future and should get credit for it, said Vicki Kramer, an independent consultant in Philadelphia who provides executive coaching and has conducted research on the role of women on boards. Still, the lack of gender diversity on the JPMorgan board is "surprising and disappointing,” she said. "If you're going to take leadership on this issue, you want to take it to the highest level, and your board speaks volume about what you really think about diversity.”

Nevermind: Goldman Sachs’ Tammy Kiely, the head of semiconductor investment banking, said in March that she would leave later this year to become Morgan Stanley’s global head of semiconductor and auto technology. Now she has changed her mind and will stay at Goldman, where she has been a partner since 2014. The reasons for her decision are unknown. But …

Don’t stay: A London-based recruiter this week warned against accepting counteroffers to stay with your current bank — especially if you’re a woman. Typically, senior management will convince the employee they value her, perhaps by offering a promotion, a generous pay rise and quality-of-life changes that she may have asked for before, but wasn’t given, like more flexible work hours. “Why shouldn't you accept all these treats? Mostly because they're ephemeral. That promotion? It's just a temporary thing until they find someone to replace you.” This recruiter says once a person has informed a bank about plans to go elsewhere, the person is considered a “flight risk” and the bank typically engages recruiters right away to find a replacement, regardless of a counteroffer being accepted. Women in particular suffer for their loyalty. “You're better off working for a new employer who's ready to take you on under flexible conditions and who's really committed to you in that role.”

A convergence is coming: JPMorgan's new blockchain lead, Christine Moy, has big shoes to fill amid massive change for the blockchain industry. Work on Quorum, the bank’s homegrown private blockchain, got underway a few years ago when financial institutions were keen to experiment with blockchain technology but wanted nothing to do with bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. In recent months, though, the idea of converging private blockchains with public blockchains like the one that supports bitcoin has been gaining momentum among those who are active in this sector. Moy said she is blockchain-agnostic, but believes that the basic building blocks for enterprise blockchains are now in place and that it’s important to stay in touch with the innovation happening in the public sphere. ”One of the important things for us working on an ethereum variant was kind of being able to stay close to that and potentially even being able to integrate some of that innovation and work into the stuff that we are doing,” Moy said. “Maybe one day this will all converge.”

Christine Moy, Blockchain Program Lead at JPMorgan.
Christine Moy, Blockchain Program Lead at JPMorgan.


Baldet’s new venture: Moy’s predecessor, Amber Baldet, has revealed what she is up to now that she has left JPMorgan. Clovyr is a new distributed app store that Baldet developed with her colleague Patrick Nielsen. The startup aims to help consumers, developers, and businesses explore blockchain technology by giving them a platform to experiment with decentralized apps and services, developer toolsets, and underlying distributed ledgers. “When public cloud started to be a thing, a lot of businesses said, Oh, cloud, it’s a great idea architecturally, but we’re going to go ahead and build our own private cloud internally, because it’s safer and we know what we need,” said Baldet, who left JPMorgan in April. “Now they’re spending millions of dollars to undo a lot of that work in an attempt to migrate to the public clouds that have evolved to the point where they are secure and robust and connected.” With blockchains, “the conversation on the enterprise side right now feels a little bit like that.” Nielsen led development for JPMorgan's open source blockchain projects and serves as Clovyr’s chief technologist.

BYOB (build your own bank): Women frustrated with limited opportunities for advancement and problems with sexual harassment should consider creating their own financial institutions tailored to the needs of female consumers, says Stessa Cohen, a research director at Gartner. “Women are speaking up about long-standing harassment and discrimination in their lives. And they’re demanding a bigger seat at the table in business,” Cohen said. "It’s time to stop shouting, complaining and explaining. Now is the time for women to build their own banks, to create the products and services that help us live our lives, grow our businesses and raise our children.” For example, a bank built for women by women could create “empathic” products and services that help women manage a financial settlement after a divorce, provide guidance on the financial implications of going from being a part-time worker to a breadwinner or create new ways to lend money to woman-owned small businesses in poor urban and rural areas. “Banks must go outside the usual ways of marketing, selling and servicing customers to create new sources of revenue,” Cohen says. “Banks like these will challenge less diverse banks to make the organizational and cultural changes necessary to adapt to a new era in financial services.”

The search begins: The San Francisco Fed has begun its search for a successor to President John Williams, who will start at the New York Fed next month. It has brought in Diversified Search to find candidates and described it as the largest female-owned executive search firm. The selection of Williams to replace the retiring William Dudley at the New York Fed sparked criticism of the bank for its continued lack of diversity.

Apologies: A deputy governor of the Bank of England has apologized for saying the U.K. economy was in a “menopausal” phase after passing its productive peak. Ben Broadbent, who had drawn a lot of criticism for the remark, said he is sorry for the poor choice of words. “To refer to menopause as being ‘past one’s productive peak’ in the context of the economy ignores the reality that women are often at the peak of their careers during their menopause years,” said Vivienne Artz, president of a group called Women in Banking and Finance. Broadbent, who formerly worked at Goldman Sachs, is viewed as a possible successor to Mark Carney, the Bank of England’s governor.

Role call


Isabelle Ealet, one of three co-heads of Goldman Sachs’ securities division and the “queen of commodities” on Wall Street, will leave her job next month as part of a large reshuffle but continue advising the firm as a senior director. Ealet is Goldman’s most-senior female executive in a revenue-producing role and one of four women on its 30-person management committee. Ealet, who has been on our list of the Most Powerful Women in Finance repeatedly, had been thought of as a possible contender for the CEO role before a slump in her business in recent years.

Sarah Guo has become one of the first female general partners at the venture capital firm Greylock Partners. Guo’s areas of focus include cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. Another female GP, Sarah Tavel, left Greylock last year to become the first female GP at Benchmark Capital. Founded in 1965, Greylock is one of the oldest venture firms in the country. Its current fund closed with $1 billion in October 2016, and it now has eight general partners and four venture partners in all. Women represent just 15% of decision-makers at Silicon Valley’s major venture capital firms.

In case you missed it


50 shades of sexism: Sima Kamil is the CEO of United Bank in Karachi, Pakistan, and one of the few women leading companies in the country. That comes with a responsibility to be a role model to other women. But Kamil would rather talk about company strategy than about representing women in business. “It’s a privilege and a burden at the same time,” she said. “They roll you out. I’ve tried to avoid that and it’s not always easy; some people feel I should do it because it’s part of my duty, so there’s a balance to be struck.’’ Kamil was named CEO of the bank last year after working at its main rival, ANZ Grindlays, where she led the branch network, managed thousands of employees (“unheard of for a woman”) and brought the highest annual average current account deposit growth in the industry. Despite being a rarity – a woman leading a business in a country where just 22% of women are employed – she maintains she hasn’t encountered overt sexism, the “you can’t do this because you’re a woman” type. “But, yes, as a woman when you go in a new role you get tested and people take a bit of time if they are not used to working with women to relate to you.”

Beyond banking


Shoe controversy: There’s more than one way to dress like a woman, but the Cannes Film Festival has some anachronistic standards. Actress Kristen Stewart removed her high heels on the red carpet in defiance of the rule that female attendees must wear heels, specifically, not flats, to the event. "You can’t ask people that anymore,” Stewart said. “It’s just a given. If you’re not asking guys to wear heels and a dress, then you can’t ask me either.” Emily Blunt has also openly criticized the rule and in 2016 Julia Roberts attended the festival barefoot. Stewart’s protest has opened up a broader discussion about women wearing flats.

Tweet of the week: This observation comes from the Consensus conference in New York City. The event attracted more than 8,000 blockchain and cryptocurrency enthusiasts, double the number expected.


Thanks to all those who applied for our Most Powerful Women rankings. If you aren’t getting a copy of the monthly American Banker Magazine, which publishes the annual rankings, please send an email to sign up for a digital or print subscription.

BankThink submission guidelines

BankThink is American Banker's platform for informed opinion about the ideas, trends and events reshaping financial services. View our detailed submission criteria and instructions.