Yesterday we wrote about how complicated it is for women to make partner at investment bank Goldman Sachs, but today we have some better news for women on Wall Street. Marianne Lake, CFO of the consumer and community banking business since 2009, has become one of Wall Street’s most powerful women after being promoted to Chief Financial Officer of JPMorgan Chase.
The 43 year old will replace Doug Braunstein as CFO early next year and will report directly to CEO Jamie Dimon. This job makes her one of Wall Street’s highest-ranking women. Dimon said Lake “has developed an impressive breadth of knowledge and experience in finance across both our wholesale and our consumer businesses”.
Lake will be stepping into this role at a tough time for the bank. Last April JPMorgan experienced what is known as the “London Whale” trading losses and its reputation took a major hit. Ina Drew, the former Chief Investment Officer of JPMorgan and one of Wall Street’s most powerful women at the time, became the face of the scandal. She ran the risk-management unit responsible for the losses. Though he didn’t want to, Dimon had to let her go after the disaster. According to Bloomberg, Dimon had encouraged Drew to take on riskier strategies. Obviously, that backfired. “We made a terrible, egregious mistake,” Dimon told Meet the Press. “There’s almost no excuse for it.” Her departure was a major loss for JPMorgan and for the state of women on Wall Street.
Lake, who has both British and American citizenship, started out as an accountant for PricewaterhouseCoopers in London and Sydney when she was 21 years old and has worked in finance and accounting for more than two decades. She said it was “surreal” to see her name on television after yesterday’s announcement, according to Bloomberg. ”It’s not at the top of my mind to make sweeping changes right now,” Lake said in an interview. “It’s a well-run function that I have been a part of. I have huge amounts of respect for Doug, and the people who worked with him.”
In the U.S., women account for only 2.7% of the chief executives in the financial industry, and 16.8% of the executive officers, according to a study by Catalyst. But women made up more than 14% of the CFOs at financial services firms among companies in the Fortune 500 list at the end of last year, putting it ahead of other industries when it comes to women holding the top finance job, according to a study published in September by executive recruiter Spencer Stuart. The percentage of women CFOs among all members of the list has climbed steadily since 2007 and has risen to 10.8% as of the end of last year, the recruiter found.
But there has been a notable fleeing of female leaders from Wall Street since the financial crisis in 2008. This loss of women makes an impact on younger women in the industry. Wall Street has already experienced a profound loss of women from the industry in general in the last few years because of the environment being so male-dominated and the personal life sacrifices the job requires for less compensation than in previous years. But another reason is why a woman would stay when she has no role model at the top to look up to so this is great to see.
As Deal Journal writer Shira Ovide wrote:
“Senior female executives on Wall Street are like bald eagles: Majestic, but extremely rare. And each top woman who leaves or is forced from her post will spark anew the “whither women” questions and stories about why Wall Street is dominated by dudes. At this point, Wall Street would love a few more top-ranking women, if only to stop those pesky questions.”
We wish Marianne the best of luck!