Magazine article American Banker

Meredith Whitney on Prospects of a Female Big-Bank Chief Exec

Magazine article American Banker

Meredith Whitney on Prospects of a Female Big-Bank Chief Exec

Article excerpt

Byline: Heather Landy

Pressed to predict which top-10 bank would be the first to name a female chief executive, and who would get the post, the banking analyst Meredith Whitney pondered the question onstage Wednesday night for what seemed an interminably long time for the women bankers in the room.

And then: "I think it could happen at U.S. Bancorp," she said, eliciting an eruption of applause from the rather large U.S. Bancorp delegation to the Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance dinner sponsored by U.S. Banker, a sister publication of American Banker. "I think there's not a bigger issue than the payments industry."

The rest was a foregone conclusion: "Pam Joseph," Whitney said, anointing U.S. Bancorp's Atlanta-based vice chairman for payment services.

At the end of the black-tie dinner, Joseph took a characteristically modest, aw-shucks approach to what had transpired in the packed ballroom at the Pierre Hotel in New York.

"I wouldn't read too much into it," she advised.

But recipients of Whitney's predictions ignore her words at their own peril. Remember the analyst's 2007 prediction that Citigroup Inc. would need to cut its dividend?

Whitney has continued to make waves since then, expanding the scope of her research and commentary since leaving Oppenheimer & Co., the firm where she worked when she gained rock-star status at the height of the credit crisis. She has since started Meredith Whitney Advisory Group LLC. …

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