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The Top 10 Most Powerful Women in Banking

Beth Mooney made history in 2011 as the first woman chairman and CEO of a top-20 American-based bank. 

| BY Donald Liebenson


It is a three-peat for Beth Mooney, KeyCorp chairman and chief executive officer, who tops American Banker magazine’s 2015 ranking of the Most Powerful Women in Banking.

Mooney made history in 2011 as the first woman chairman and CEO of a top-20 American-based bank. “Since then, (she) has had an exemplary record of advancing the careers of minorities women, who now comprise more than one-third of Key’s senior management and director ranks,” American Banker notes. This year, one-fourth of recent college graduates Key hired were minorities and 36 percent were women, up from 17 percent and 24 percent, respectively, just two years ago.

Of the managers two levels below Mooney, 35 percent are women and 40 percent are minorities.  Key's board is now one of the most diverse in the industry, with five women among its 14 directors. The company has been named as one of DiversityInc's "Top 50 Companies for Diversity" for three years running, after having fallen off the list for several years.

Marianne Lake, chief financial officer of JPMorgan Chase, ranked No. 2 on American Banker’s Most Powerful Women in Banking list, issued an empowering, like-minded call to action at the awards ceremony last week at New York’s Waldorf Astoria. "Women must support women," she said. She further challenged executives to spend 30 minutes each week having coffee with a talented young woman, American Banker reported on the event.

Lake has emerged “as the voice in discussing the company's performance and defending its size (against dismantling),” according to the ranking report. Chairman and chief executive Jamie Dimon himself said that it’s getting to the point where he has become “unnecessary” on earnings calls. “Don’t be surprised if one of these days I don’t show up,” he said.

Third on the list is Karen Peetz, president of BNY Mellon, who is noted, in part, for initiatives such as a reverse mentoring program, which was created for management to gain insight into the mindset of Millennial workers. “You have to know how these junior people view the company and their career path if you want to keep them,” she is quoted. “They are the future.”

Carrie Tolstedt, senior EVP, Community Banking, Wells Fargo, is fourth on American Banker’s Most Powerful Women in Banking list, followed by Avid Modjtabai, senior EVP, Head of Consumer Lending, Wells Fargo. |The loan portfolio has more than doubled-- including $6.2 billion of growth in 2014 alone--since she took over the business in 2011.

Completing the top 10 Most Powerful Women in Bank are

6.       Cathy Bessant, Chief Operations and Technology Officer, Bank of America

7.       Heather Cox, Chief Client Experience, Digital and Marketing Officer, Global Consumer Bank, Citigroup

8.   Jana Schreuder, COO, Northern Trust

      9.   Barbara Desoer, CEO, Cibitbank

10. Diane Reyes, Group General Manager, Global Head of Payments and Cash Management, HSBC

About the Author

Donald Liebenson

Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.  

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.