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If I Wanted To Be A Bank Could I Have All Girls?

I read Sriram's blog about having a dream - wanting to be a bank. It got me dreaming.

If I wanted to be a bank who might I choose to run it?

Being a bit of an alternative thinker I thought - who would go the hardest, but do it nicely and with a smile? Well, having a very bright and popular wife, I was reminded that there must be some under-appreciated and very bright girls out there. From what I read in Maggie Berry's Finextra Women in Technology Group, they may well be under-rewarded too.

There's more to it than just being really good at business, these girls are also members of that group in our society which just happens to really control most of the spending. Women. If you want to be a bank, and provide transactions, perhaps having the needs and wants of women foremost is a good idea.

It could also really stick it to the 'guys'. In a nice way.

I immediately thought of Sallie Krawchek. I recollect a little friction with the new boss and the possibility that Sallie as CFO, might have been pushed into a role outside her interest or specialty. Sallie is certainly well known for her honesty and ethics. There is no doubt about her ability to run a top wealth management machine. I hear Sallie is looking for a challenge.

Suzan Sabancı Dinçer, Chairperson of Akbank, Turkey's most successful private bank would be a very attractive addition with her knowledge and connections to bridge the gulf. That Citi shareholding in Akbank shouldn't interfere too much nor Suzan's seat on Citi's international advisory board.

Margaret Ann Livermore, Executive VP and HP's Head of Tech Solutions Group would be an excellent choice and I suppose we could use HP for back-end services. Perhaps do a deal with both and get Margaret on the board?

Promotion is the key to any new business and getting into the minds of consumers. The right plan might see us  achieving two objectives, getting a good handle on the consumer and  a little 'free' media. Not in the sense that you might imagine, but through cross-promotion of a sort. Remember nothing is free.

When I think about who knows the consumer, I can't go past Susan E Arnold, President of Global Business Units at Procter & Gamble. On the money. I have more than just Susan's welfare in mind and  P&G might like to be in on the overall plan, which involves TV advertisers.

Nancy Tellem, President of CBS Paramount Television could have some fun with us, revolutionise TV and maybe put a bit of fire into those upfronts.

Judy McGrath Chairperson and CEO of MTV Networks would have a ball too, probably to the detriment of a certain trendy music download site.There a lot of potential customers who also like music.

Susan Decker, President of Yahoo could provide exactly what we need, and probably find a nice niche for Yahoo too.

I doubt that BofA could spare Amy Woods Brinkley at the moment but Amy would be a sage addition to round out the team and Amy recommends trying on the unfamiliar to advance career-wise.

I know a few guys might wonder how I could contemplate an all-girl team. Anyone who knows them will tell you. Besides, girls just want to have fun, and winning, being recognised and suitably rewarded is fun. Others came to mind but I'll have to draw the line somewhere.

That's my pick for an all-girl bank board, that is if I too can have a dream like Sriram, although I didn't for a second think about government handouts, because my dream team would undoubtedly be a sure thing.

Perhaps they too have a dream to be a bank.


PS. A follow-up story in the NYTimes after the subject received plenty of discussion a Davos.


Comments: (6)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 17 November, 2008, 18:19Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Sadly whilst your article seems to be intending to promote a case for furtherance of Women's careers in banking, to me the wording used comes across as condescending at best. The people you refer to are mature adults who have worked hard to get where they are in life and owe their success, not to gender, but to hard work and diligence. They are not 'girls' but experienced and professional business people. Perhaps if as a society we look at people that way, then gender will become the irrelevance that it should be.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 18 November, 2008, 02:58Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I thought my 'dream' in fact made perfectly good sense.

I'm sure that calling a woman 'one of the girls' is as in-offensive as calling you one of the boys. What could be fairly termed offensive, rather than condescending is the real status of women in banking. Have any women on the board Terry? I obviously missed the mark, and would have thought the boys would have been more offended and here's an illustration why.

Dr. Jon Rosenberg chaired the board of a NASDAQ bank, acting as CEO during the 1990's. "There were fewer than a dozen female CEO's at the time," she says. Her attitude is that in general it is easier for women in more structured, traditional industries like banking than it is in others. The stats nor the recollections don't necessarily back that up and things must be very bad in general business.

A case in point:
In 1944, primarily as a result of the war, 60% of the staff at Scotia Bank were women. Scotia Bank was the first Canadian Bank to appoint women branch managers in 1961, by which time 56 percent of their staff were women. 

Back in the the early 1940's when most bankers had a high school education Dr Lucy Ingram Morgan joined the Scotiabank Statistic Dept. After 16 years of service Lucy was appointed Head of the Economics Department.  By 1976 they inaugurated the first Women's Pension Fund. We can assume Lucy missed out on a pension.

Lucy later sponsored the Lucy Ingram Morgan Gold Medal, Victoria College, University of Toronto. Curiously in 2007 Victoria College had a gender ratio of 67% female to 33% male and there were amost twice as many female PhD students as male.

By 1993 a staggering 77% of Scotiabank's staff were women, yet only 6.97% had reached an upper management position.  Some must have noticed and management did a survey confirming the gross inequality and sough to correct it.

In 2008  Scotiabank have 4 women as board members out of 16 (25%), and 6 out of 19 (32%) executive management positions are listed as filled by women, on the company website.

Looking at the education statistics, it still looks as though the scales at Scotiabank, although ahead of industry trends, are still tipped toward the men.

The Industry At Large

In 2002 St George Bank appointed Gail Kelly as the first woman to be CEO of an Australian bank and in 2007 Westpac named Gail as the first woman CEO of that bank, and later took over St George. Gail was once at Nedbank SA, which is still behind in the equality stakes.

In 2005 Nahed Taher was appointed as the first woman CEO of a gulf bank.

The Numbers

The average number of women corporate officers in finance and insurance is 2.9, while the average number of women directors is 2.1 — relatively stalled from prior years, according to recent Catalyst research. The same holds true on a percentage for women corporate officers in finance and insurance, which, on average, is 16.6, while the percentage of women directors, on average, is 16.1, according to Catalyst’s 2007 Census.

The Financial Numbers

On average, Fortune 500 companies with higher percentages of women board directors financially outperformed companies with the lowest percentage of women board directors — by significant margins, according to Catalyst findings.

In another study, Catalyst found Fortune 500 companies with the highest percentages of women corporate officers reported, on average, a 35.1-percent higher return on equity and a 34 percent higher total return to shareholders than did those with the lowest percentages of women corporate officers.

That's my idea of having fun with the girls.

That shouldn't offend anyone except the shareholders of companies with too few women on the board and consequently in management.

How's your board looking?

Sriram Natarajan
Sriram Natarajan - Credit Risk Fraud Cards Professional - Gurgaon 18 November, 2008, 15:03Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Dean; how about Indra Nooyi - Head Honcho of Pepsi? I am sure she can run a bank!

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 18 November, 2008, 17:25Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

My board is 50-50, thanks for asking

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 19 November, 2008, 00:26Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Sriram, I agree, Indra certainly knows how to make a business profitable. Doubling the net profit of a well established company in 6 years is a fine achievement. There might be more potential for satisfaction (and money) in banking and ancilliary services early in this new century than perhaps selling soft drinks. If we are lucky one day Indra might also explore those possiilities. 

I particularly like her advice in this quote from Fortune - "The minute you've developed a new business model, it's extinct, because somebody is going to copy it."

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 19 November, 2008, 15:23Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Dean – an all female bank, you may be onto something there! Iceland certainly seemed to share your view when it appointed two women to take over its failed banks. One government official there said "It's typical, the men make the mess and the women come in to clean it up." Too much testosterone did seem to be to blame for at least some of the credit crunch so maybe more women is exactly what banking needs! As much as I am an advocate for female equality though, we don’t want to exclude the men altogether – in business it’s definitely useful to get as many perspectives as possible!

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