Citi names Jane Fraser as CEO – Making her the first woman to lead a major Wall Street Bank
This is groundbreaking news for the banking industry.
Jane Fraser’s ascension as Citigroup’s CEO answers a question many have had for years: When would the U.S. banking industry, dominated by men in leadership positions for decades, get its first female big bank CEO?
Today, less than 10% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and only three are women of color. At a congressional hearing last year, big bank CEOs — all white men — were asked if they were likely to be succeeded by female candidates one day. No one said yes. Fraser is currently in charge of Citi’s consumer bank and is set to take over in February for Michael Corbat, a 37-year Citigroup veteran, who has been CEO for eight years. She’ll be taking over one of the nation’s largest banks at a time of vast economic uncertainty – high unemployment, low-interest rates.
The largest US banks have reported sharp declines in profit as they brace for a wave of defaults. Citi’s profit plunged 73% during the second quarter as the bank’s credit costs spiked because of the pandemic. The bank has lost one-third of its market value this year. Leading in adversity is something she is comfortable with. Fraser has been in charge of the bank’s emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic in North America.
As we look at the banking world in the Covid era, she has pledged Citi for a more digital world. She said in a memo to employees, “We need to move from remediating to fundamentally transforming our risk and control environment.” This is also coming from a woman who during the financial crisis, she ran the bank’s strategy division, laying the groundwork to sell units like the Smith Barney brokerage and shrink the overall bank. And also in 2014 she was tapped revive Citi’s Mexcio bank as it was reeling from a money laundering and fraud investigation.
She has long said that key to her success is empathy. It’s a challenge, but it appears she is up for it.
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