Just months after Citigroup's Jane Fraser ascended to the CEO's chair, becoming the first woman to ever run a Wall Street megabank, one of Fraser's rivals in the pantheon of Wall Street's most high-ranking women is leaving Bank of America for what we imagine will be an exceedingly comfortable retirement.
BofA's Anne Finucane, the bank's vice chair and the architect of its post-crisis turnaround, plans to retire at the end of the year, along with another senior exec, Chief Operating Officer Thomas K. Montag. Their departures open the door for new leadership. Whether that will include more female executives remains to be seen, but Morgan Stanley's recent shakeup of its top ranks featured four white men.
According to the NYT, Finucane is one of the most powerful and influential women on Wall Street. She was also described as the chief architect of the bank’s image overhaul. After her retirement, she will become the nonexecutive chair of BofA's European banking arm and join its global advisory council, the bank said. Montag will also join the council. Succession plans will be announced in the coming weeks, the bank said.
"I’m very proud that we repaired the reputation of the company," Ms. Finucane said in an interview. "The management team dug in, and we worked together to improve everything we had power over: the customer experience, the number of businesses we would be in, the culture."
To this day, Finucane has been the person to whom whom the bank turns when it decides to take a stand on contentious issues. When it stepped back from financing companies that make military-style assault rifles for civilians in 2018, she articulated the bank's position. She did something similar when BofA decided to stop lending to firms that run private prisons and detention centers in 2019.
She reportedly convinced low-key CEO Brian Moynihan to appear in a 2018 commercial that aired during "Sunday Night Football" and "This is Us" as part of the bank's rebranding campaign. It was the kind of direct personal approach that would have been unthinkable a decade ago.
Finucane was also early to the ESG trend, potentially putting her in position to take a job on the buy side. John Kerry even agreed to discuss her departure on the record with the NYT, as did Moynihan.
“Anne has been a trusted adviser and invaluable partner for many years,” Mr. Moynihan said in a statement. “From her time as one of the few senior women executives in financial services today, she has provided unparalleled strategic vision.”
“She’s been one of the leaders in helping to open peoples’ eyes” to the role that corporations can play in addressing the climate crisis, said John Kerry, President Biden’s climate envoy and the former chair of the bank’s advisory council. “She’s very savvy about the course of current events.”
Finucane has also done a lot of work with the bank's "public policy".
She oversees public policy for the bank, which this year committed an extra $10 billion to an affordable-housing program through 2025. After George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were killed in police shootings, the bank pledged $1 billion over four years to advance racial equality. And as the debate over the minimum wage heated up, it announced plans to raise its base pay to $25 by 2025, just days before Mr. Moynihan and other bank bosses were scheduled to testify before lawmakers.
Montag was said to be a more "polarizing" figure - he was, after all, singled out by the NYT in a story published earlier this year claiming he fostered a toxic work environment, where people lived in fear of losing their jobs, and where women were objectified. But former Goldman chief and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson spoke up for him. The paper also noted that for years he was paid more than Moynihan, his boss.
"It’s rare to find a leader like Tom who combines capital-market expertise and the ability to connect and motivate people," said Hank Paulson, former Treasury secretary and Goldman Sachs chief. “Clients love working with him, he gets results and he does so with integrity.”
With Finucane headed for retirement, it's clear that BofA needs to elevate another woman (or better yet, two or three) to keep the virtue signalers happy. Otherwise, the NYT or some other rag might slam the bank with another hit piece about Wall Street's alliance with the Patriarchy.