Women in Banking: Shih's UBS Success Story; Banking's Power Couples

By Macheel, Tanaya | American Banker, August 28, 2015 | Go to article overview

Women in Banking: Shih's UBS Success Story; Banking's Power Couples


Macheel, Tanaya, American Banker


Byline: Tanaya Macheel

Financial and Emotional Wealth: Kathryn Shih, CEO of UBS Wealth Management Asia Pacific, attributes her success in part to understanding that wealth is an emotional topic; she is trusted to help plan clients' lives, those of their children and for generations. "Each has gotten to where they are with a remarkable story," she tells Barron's. Shih's story is remarkable too. Assets under management have more than quintupled at her unit of Switzerland's largest bank since shebecame CEO in 2002. This year, she plans to increase that figure another 20%. At the end of 2014, UBS was the leading private bank in the Asia Pacific with $272 billion in assets under management, up 10% from a year earlier. By the end of this year's second quarter, Shih's unit had more than 1,100 relationship managers, more than double the number employed by competitors Credit Suisse and Citi Private Bank at the end of 2014.

Risky Business: Many studies have determined that women are more risk-averse based on their likelihood to engage in activities like gambling. Does this mean risk aversion is a gender trait? Whatever business journals and executives gather from these studies, Nasdaq president Adena Friedman says a conservative approach should be celebrated and replicated among business leaders. "Couldn't the interpretation of the statistics indicate that women calculate risk more carefully and more judiciously, and isn't that a good thing?" she wrote in a Fortune opinion piece. Nevertheless, innovating and risk-taking are essential to any business and Friedman stresses the need to "fight the tendency to focus all of the attention on the risk associated with a new initiative."

#TheNew10: Plans to replace Alexander Hamilton on the new $10 bill are drawing further criticism from women in the economics and finance communities. To name a couple, Abby Joseph Cohen, president of Goldman Sachs Group's Global Markets Institute, and Carmen Reinhart, a Harvard University professor of international finance, said it would be more apt to put a woman on the (more widely circulated) $20 bill. "The financial structures [Hamilton] put in place, which were inappropriately denigrated by Andrew Jackson, have stood the test of time," Cohen said. "One cannot say the same for Jackson's legacy, which includes the horrific treatment of Native Americans." The $10 bill is due for a redesign and further counterfeiting protections. The Treasury plans to release it in 2020 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment, which extended voting rights to women. Many, including Cohen, have voiced their preference to put Eleanor Roosevelt on the new bill.

Trouble with TARP: Cecil Bancorp's chief executive, Terrie Spiro, who was brought in to lead the struggling Elkton, Md., company in 2013, spoke optimistically about its future in a recent interview with American Banker, saying the company is putting the finishing touches on a plan to exit the Troubled Asset Relief Program. But the $323 million-asset Cecil has been ordered by federal regulators to raise more capital or sell itself. The Federal Reserve Board issued a prompt corrective action on Aug. 7.

Partners in Life, and Banking: American Banker highlights five husband-and-wife power couples running consistently high-performing banks together, including Georgia Derrico, chairman and CEO of McLean, Va.-based Sonabank and wife of president and COO Roderick Porter; Katherine Taylor, co-chairwoman of Oakland, Calif.-based Beneficial State Bancorp and wife of co-chairman Tom Steyer; Cynthia Blankenship, vice chairman and COO of Bank of the West in Grapevine, Texas and wife of CEO Gary Blankenship; Pamela Morrison, senior vice president and chief administrative officer of New Hampshire's Optima Bank and wife of chairman and CEO Daniel Morrison; and Judy Guttau, secretary to the board and director of community reinvestment at Treynor State Bank in Treynor, Iowa and wife of president and chairman Michael Guttau. …

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