Hire Wire Sep 26 2011

The Most Powerful Women in Banking

By julie steinberg

Karen Peetz, vice chairman of BNY Mellon, is the most powerful woman in banking, according to new rankings out today.

Peetz, 55, topped the list of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking released by American Banker Magazine. She was third on the list last year. She manages roughly 17,000 employees around the world and is the first female vice chairman in the company's history. She was an active participant in BNY Mellon's administration of the U.S. government's Troubled Asset Relief Program and also coordinated a deal in 2006 that exchanged BNY Mellon's retail banking operation for JPMorgan's corporate trust business.

Related: Peetz Talks to FINS about Her Career Trajectory

American Banker compiled the rankings by assessing the financial performance of each organization or woman-led division, combined with the nominee's management style, crisis management history, influence in the industry, charitable actions and job responsibilities.

Carrie Tolstedt, senior executive vice president of community banking at Wells Fargo, came in second (after taking the No.1 spot last year), followed by Ellen Costello, president and CEO of Harris Financial, the 12th largest commercial bank by assets in the United States.

Other notable figures include Mary Callahan Erdoes, chief executive of JPMorgan's asset management division, who fell one spot to no. 7 this year, and Sallie Krawcheck, former president of global wealth and investment management at Bank of America, who dropped 14 spots to no. 18. Krawcheck was ousted earlier this month as part of a reorganization of the wealth management unit.

"She's still an awfully powerful person," which accounts for her place on the list, said Heather Landy, editor-in-chief of American Banker Magazine. "With or without a job, she deserved a place on the list. She has resurfaced before after leaving other jobs. We're fairly confident she'll resurface."

Landy declined to specify which number position the magazine had assigned to Krawcheck before her departure.

The magazine also released its 25 Most Powerful Women in Finance list and named Abigail Johnson, president of Fidelity Personal, Workplace and Institutional Services at Fidelity Investments, to the no. 1 spot for the second year in a row. She's likely to be named the next CEO of Fidelity, according to American Banker magazine. Barbara Byrne, vice chair of investment banking at Barclays Capital, jumped to the second spot from the fifth spot last year, while Ruth Porat, Morgan Stanley's chief financial officer, moved to no. 3 from no. 16 last year.

Beth Mooney took the top spot on American Banker's 25 Women to Watch List, which also came out today. Mooney was appointed CEO of KeyCorp., the Cleveland-based super regional bank, in May. She takes the place of Irene Dorner, president of HSBC Bank USA, who held the position last year and made the jump to No.4 on the 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking list.

Last year, Heidi Miller, president of JPMorgan's international business, came in at No. 2 on the Women to Watch list. This year, she doesn't make an appearance; it was announced in June that she will retire from the firm in early 2012.

The magazine decided to omit women who plan to retire from the list, such as Miller and Cara Heiden, former co-president of Wells Fargo home mortgage, said Landy. Heiden is retiring as the bank transfers the home lending division to a different consumer group.

"It certainly feels like women are taking the brunt of the reshuffling that's going on," Landy said. "On the other hand, there are some really important markers for women, like Mooney becoming CEO at KeyCorp. It's the first U.S.-owned bank to appoint a female CEO -- there's no underestimating the significance of something like that."

"I don't think there's necessarily an overarching trend involving women in the industry in terms of how many high-profile women have been stepping down as late," she continued. "It sounds like these are individual circumstances; boardroom politics are a funny thing. It's more coincidental than anything else."

Write to Julie Steinberg at julies@fins.com

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