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Wall Street appoints its first female bank boss

Jane Fraser in 2019Image copyright

Citigroup has named a woman to be its new chief executive in a first for a Wall Street bank.

Briton Jane Fraser, its current president and head of global consumer division, is to become its new boss when current chief Michael Corbat retires in February.

He is stepping down after 37 years at the bank, including eight as leader.

It comes as the male-dominated world of US finance faces pressure to diversify its ranks.

Scotland-born Ms Fraser has worked at Citi for 16 years, serving in her current role since 2019. She oversees business in 19 countries and previously led its Latin America division.

Seen as a rising star, she was recently considered for the role of chief executive at Wells Fargo, another top US bank.

The chair of Citi’s board of directors, John Dugan, said Ms Fraser would take the bank “to the next level”.

“She has deep experience across our lines of business and regions and we are highly confident in her,” he said.

Last year, Royal Bank of Scotland named Alison Rose as its first female chief executive, making her the first woman to run any of the big four banks in the UK.

But at the end of 2019, just 31 women held the top spots at major American companies listed on the S&P 500 index, none of which were banks.

At a congressional hearing last year, the heads of seven of America’s biggest banks, including current Citi boss Mr Corbat, were questioned about the lack of diversity and asked if they believed they would be succeeded by a woman or person of colour. None said yes.

Image copyright
Mario Tama

At Citi, Ms Fraser has frequently been charged with turning around troubled parts of the bank, the fourth largest in the US. She worked in its mortgage division following the financial crisis and was put in charge in Latin America after a scandal in its bank in Mexico.

She is poised to take charge as the bank grapples with the economic fallout of the pandemic. In the most recent quarter, Citi’s profits plunged 73% as it set aside more than $7bn to cover potential losses.

Ms Fraser, whose compensation was $12.5m (£9.7m) last year, has said being a good leader means setting a vision, having the courage to make “tough calls”, and asking questions.

‘You cannot have it all’

Born in St Andrews, Scotland, she has degrees from Harvard Business School and Cambridge University. The 53-year-old started her career at Goldman Sachs in London, joining Citi after rising to be a partner at consulting giant McKinsey.

She has said she moved to the US because of the opportunities she saw for women there and spoken about confronting machismoas a female executive in Latin America

A married mum of two, she has also addressed work-life balance, telling broadcaster CNN in 2014: “You cannot have it all at the same time. You can have it all, spread over decades. I think of my life in different chunks. When the kids were little, I needed to be around more, but it’s different now.”

However, in a 2018 interview she denied aspiring to the top spot.

“I look forward to seeing a woman being the first CEO of a Wall Street firm whoever that may be,” she said. “I’ve never had the ambition to be the CEO of Citi or any other organization. Things can change over time. But at the moment, I’ve still got a lot to learn.”


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