Women in Finance: Jane Fraser — The First Female CEO to Lead a Top Wall Street Bank

The finance industry is predominantly male-dominated, with men occupying the upper ranks and executive positions in investment banks and financial firms. However, in recent years, there has been a surge of women being promoted to senior ranks and top executive positions, symbolizing an increase in women representation in the finance industry. In this series, titled “Women in Finance,” the Business and Economics Committee at On Century Avenue seeks to celebrate the achievements of women in the finance industry worldwide. The first woman in this series is Jane Fraser, the first female CEO to lead a top Wall Street Bank and the first female CEO of Citigroup.

Cover Photo Credit: https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-citigroup-female-ceo-jane-fraser-20200910-u7svrfkvcfcnxpulpymqkvhdwm-story.html

Jane Fraser, a 53 year old Scottish native, took the world by storm when she set an unprecedented history in the finance world by succeeding Michael Corbat as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Citigroup, one of the world’s top investment banks. This makes her the first female CEO in the firm’s history and the first female CEO to lead a major Wall Street Bank. Her appointment has been met with high appraisals from many colleagues and top executives, making her an inspirational role model to both working mothers and women in future generations. 

Education 

Fraser holds two graduate degrees: an M.A. in economics from Girton College, University of Cambridge (1985-1988) and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School (1992-1994). 

Career

Fraser started her career working as a Mergers and Acquisitions Analyst at Goldman Sachs in London in 1988 after graduating from the University of Cambridge. After working for two years at Goldman, she decided to work as a Brokerage Associate for Asesores Bursatiles in Madrid, Spain from 1990-1992 before she left to the United States to pursue her M.B.A from Harvard Business School, earning her degree in 1994. From 1994 to 2004, she worked at McKinsey & Co. as a partner focusing on financial services and strategy. In 2004, Fraser left to become the Head of Client Strategy in the Investment and Corporate Banking Division at Citigroup for three years and she has been working with the bank ever since. From 2007 to 2009, Fraser became the Global Head of Strategy and M&A and from then on, she held many top executive positions at the firm, the first being the CEO of Citi Private Bank for four years from 2009 to 2013. From 2013 to 2015, she then became the CEO of the U.S. Consumer and Commercial Banking and CitiMortgage. Fraser was then appointed as the CEO of Citi’s Latin American region from 2015 to 2019. She is currently the President of Citi and the CEO of Global Consumer Banking, overseeing mortgages, wealth management, credit cards, and retail banking businesses across 19 countries. She will begin her new position as the CEO of Citi in February 2021. 

Achievements 

During Fraser’s tenure as the Global Head of Strategy and M&A at Citi, she played a significant role in helping the bank steer out of the financial crisis in 2008, including helping the then-CEO Vikram Pandit with ways to shrink the bank and sell under-performing assets. In 2009 as the CEO of Citi Private Bank, she helped the bank overturn a $250 million deficit. In the same year, she took a great role in the $8 million sale of Citi’s Japanese securities to Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, which resulted in Citi having a huge capital boost. In 2012, she also assisted Citi with the sale of Smith Barney brokerage to Morgan Stanley, which reshaped the private bank. During her tenure as the CEO of Citi Private Bank, she executed more than 25 deals in a span of just 18 months. In Fraser’s appointment as the CEO of Citi Latin America, she became the first woman and the first foreigner to occupy this position. She was in charge of overseeing Citibanamex, one of Mexico’s largest, yet troubled banks boasting nearly 1,400 branches. At the time, the bank had not only been defrauded of $400 million by an oil services firm, but had also been offering unauthorized and illegal services to third parties through their securities unit. Under Fraser’s tenure, she disbanded the corrupted unit and restructured the bank by investing $1 billion into Citibanamex to upgrade customer experience with branch makeovers and new ATMs. It is said that under Fraser’s administration, “net revenue and net profit for the Latin American division grew 8% and 38%, respectively.” 

Advices 

Fraser, who is married and is the mother of two children, has plenty of advice for women out there in the business world who are working mothers and feel stressed about balancing between their professional life and personal life. In Fortune’s Most Powerful Women virtual summit, one piece of advice that Fraser has is that “You don’t have to be a Superwoman, we can be normal. Give yourself a break, don’t set expectations at ridiculous levels, and take a bit of time and enjoy the different phrases and make the most of them.” Some qualities Fraser believes to be important are empathy and transparency. According to a podcast interview with Poppy Harlow, Fraser states that “[she] always imagines [herself] at the other side of the audience, and [asks], ‘How would I like to hear things?’” She attributes her success to being honest and upfront with employees and customers as she believes that “…transparency is important, and authenticity is important. [She] never likes corporate speak. So, [she] thinks it’s important to just say how things are.” One important lesson that Fraser has also learned throughout her career is to succeed off your strengths. According to Fraser, she spent most of her time waiting on feedback and ways that she could improve, but she eventually realized that people who do really well are those that focus on their strengths and their passions. 

This article was written by Daiana Chen, currently based in New York, NY. Please send an email to chend21@nyu.edu or contact via instagram@daiana_chen to get in touch.
Photo Credit: https://www.foxbusiness.com/business-leaders/citigroup-ceo-jane-fraser-business-next-generation

One thought on “Women in Finance: Jane Fraser — The First Female CEO to Lead a Top Wall Street Bank

  1. Most commenters have been full of praise for the move. Congratulations to @Citi for naming Jane Fraser as its next CEO! Great news for the company and for women everywhere! A big and fantastic moment, wrote Cathy Bessant on Twitter. Bessant is the chief operating officer at Bank of America and was recently considered for the CEO job at Wells Fargo.

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