The Most Powerful Women in Finance

There is no shortage of powerful women in the financial industry these days, as several top global institutions are currently under female leadership. This spans sectors such as economic and monetary policy, investment banking, risk management, and trading among many others. Here are some of the world’s most powerful women in finance.

Christine Lagarde (International Monetary Fund)

One need not look further than the IMF itself to see a strong female boss, as Christine Lagarde has been its Managing Director since 2011. She is a French lawyer and a Union for a Popular Movement politician, apart from previously holding posts at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Finance, and Employment and at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing.

Lagarde is the first woman to be elected to head the IMF, gaining the support of the British, Indian, United States, Brazilian, Russian, Chinese, and German governments. Among her noteworthy decisions made include the Troika’s strict stance on the Greek bailouts and the inclusion of the Chinese yuan to the fund’s Special Drawing Rights.

Mary Schapiro (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission)

In the United States, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairperson Mary Schapiro is in charge of overseeing the country’s entire securities industry and enforcing federal laws. She was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2009, making her the first woman to be permanent Chair of the SEC.

Schapiro had earlier stints as a financial services regulator under the administrations of Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. She also served as the Chairman and CEO of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority for three years prior to her appointment at the SEC.

Abigail Johnson (Fidelity Investments)

Abigail Johnson is the current President and Chief Executive Officer of US investment company Fidelity Investments. Apart from this, she is also the chairperson of its international sister company, Fidelity International.

Johnson completed her MBA program at Harvard Business School and went on to join Fidelity as an analyst and portfolio manager in 1988. Nearly a decade later, she was promoted to an executive role before eventually being named president in 2012. She also serves as a member of the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.

Mary Callahan Erdoes (JP Morgan)

Heading JP Morgan’s Asset Management division is Mary Callahan Erdoes, who was ranked as the 66th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2014. Aside from being a member of the company’s operating and executive committees, she also lead’s JP Morgan’s strategic partnership with Highbridge Capital Management.

Erdoes majored in Mathematics and completed her bachelor’s degree in Georgetown, making her the only math major to graduate from the university at that time. She then went on to pursue an MBA in Harvard Business School, where she met her husband Philip Erodes. Erodes also serves as a board member for the US fund for UNICEF.

Ana Patricia Botin (Santander)

Over in Europe, Ana Patricia Botin heads Santander Group, which is the largest bank in the euro zone by market value and one of the largest banks in the world based on capitalization. Prior to her role as an executive chairman of this Spanish banking group, Botin was CEO of Santander UK.

In February 2013, Botin was ranked as the third most powerful woman in the United Kingdom by Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio. She has also been ranked as the 99th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2005 then jumped up to 45th place in 2009.

Ruth Porat (Alphabet)

After her role as Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Morgan Stanley, Ruth Porat is now leading Alphabet, of which Google is a subsidiary. Porat was made CFO of Alphabet last year, with her hiring deal including financial incentives that will amount to $70 million by this year.

A few years back, it was rumored that Porat would be appointed by President Obama as the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury but that she had requested to have her name removed from consideration because she wanted to stay in Morgan Stanley. She was known for her influence in advising the US Treasury on how to handle the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae crisis, as well as steering the New York Federal Reserve Bank on AIG.

Barbara Byrne (Barclays Capital)

When it comes to investment banking, Barclays Capital Vice Chair Barbara Byrne also comes to mind. She was named as the third most powerful woman in finance last year, as she has spearheaded the creation of the Women in Leadership Index and linked investment products of Barclays.

This index was launched in 2015, enabling investors to allocate capital to companies with gender-diverse leadership and provide a market-based approach to spark change. Byrne is also financing an independent film on Wall Street in which most of the key players are women.

Nicole Arnaboldi (Credit Suisse)

Nicole Arnaboldi is the Vice Chairperson of Asset Management in Credit Suisse. She has played a material role in advancing Credit Suisse past Goldman in terms of private equity rankings, helping the firm double its minority-stake holdings in alternative investment funds.

Aside from her leadership role in Credit Suisse, Arnaboldi also serves as Managing Director and Vice Chairman of Alternative Investments at CSFB Private Equity. She is also Chairman and Co-Head of Illiquid Alternatives Business at DLJ Merchant Banking Partners.

Diane Offereins (Discover Financial Services)

In the payments sector, Discover Financial Services EVP of Payment Services Diane Offereins has witnessed the changing landscape of the industry for nearly three decades. This gives Offereins a strong edge in the payments industry, allowing Discover to adapt to the changing market times and fast-paced innovations.

Offereins was ranked as the 6th most powerful woman in finance by American Banker for 2014, as she put the focus on EMV compliance, tokenization, and the shift to mobile payment platforms. She has steered Discover into gaining acceptance by 4.2 million merchants in 2013, processing roughly $310 billion in transactions according to The Nilson Report.

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