Women have been making massive strides in many different industry sectors and the finance industry is no exception. That being said, there is still a way to go to reduce the gender imbalance within higher-level roles. Within the financial sector in North America alone, women account for around 52% of the financial services industry at entry level, however, representation falls at each level when moving up the corporate ladder.
Navigating a career can be tricky enough and it may seem even harder when the statistics are not in your favour. Women looking to pave a career in financial services firms are likely to find it more difficult to navigate the industry with little to no guidance or examples of previously successful women in the roles they aspire to be in. This being said, many financial services firms are taking heed of the issue and are providing opportunities for women to excel within their fields, particularly in high-level roles.
From, banking giant Citigroup appointing its first female CEO, to JPMorgan Chase rewarding longstanding female employees with high power roles they have earned, there are plenty of cases of women who have made waves within the financial industry.
Who are they, you may ask? We’ve compiled a list of the top ten most influential women to watch in finance, based on their achievements within the industry. The women on this list are pioneers within their field and have consistently showcased their skills and capabilities in highly coveted, top tier job roles.
Who are the most influential women in finance?
From CEOs to founders, here are the top 10 most influential women in finance. So, whether you are starting out in your career or have carved a solid path, who better to take inspiration from?
Abigail Johnson: CEO and President, Fidelity Investments and Chairman, Fidelity International
One of the wealthiest female investors in the world, American businesswoman Abigail Johnson is currently the Chief Executive Officer and President of Fidelity Investments (FMR) and the Chairman of Fidelity International (FIL). Fidelity International is the international arm of Fidelity Investments and is the largest mutual fund company in America with 45,000 employees worldwide. Johnson has a 24.5% share in the company, making her total net worth approximately $19.4 billion.
The Boston-based investment firm was founded in 1946 by Johnson’s grandfather Edward C. Johnson II and built up with the help of her father Edward C. “Ned” Johnson III. Johnson joined the family business as an analyst intern in 1980 and worked her way up, taking on several roles including diversified fund management. Some of her biggest achievements include earning an MBA degree from Harvard Business School whilst working at FIL, being the first woman to serve on the board of the Financial Services Forum, and ranking as the sixth most powerful woman in the world according to Forbes.
Ana Patricia Botín: Executive Chairman, Santander Group
Ana Botín is a Spanish banker who became chair of the Santander Group in 2014, following in the footsteps of her father Emilio when he died. Despite coming from a family of successful bankers, Botín has skillfully carved out her career within the financial industry and has been recognised for her own skills and strategic thinking, ranking seventh on Forbes’ list of powerful women. She not only holds several positions in Santander Group, but she is also on the Board of Directors of the Coca-Cola Company as well as the advisory board of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Botín started out her career at JPMorgan Chase (JPM), working there from 1980 to 1988. After this, she joined Banco Santander and worked her way up. She was appointed senior executive vice president in 1992 and led the company’s expansion into Latin America until 1998. Botín was also responsible for managing Santander UK as CEO and transforming them into one of Britain’s most innovative banks. She has consistently shown commitment to innovation, education and sustainability, founding CyD Foundation which is committed to aiding and promoting the contributions made by Spanish universities to the social and economic developments within Spain.
Jane Fraser: CEO, Citigroup
Jane Fraser is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Citi, the world’s most global bank and is the first woman to hold the position at the company and the first female to run a major Wall Street Bank.
After starting her career at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., she then went on to work at Asestores Bursátiles before becoming a partner at McKinsey and Company. Fraser joined Citi in 2004 and has held several positions during her time there, including being president and CEO of the Global Consumer Bank for 19 markets, as well as CEO of Citigroup Latin America and U.S. Consumer and Commercial Banking. Not only has Fraser excelled in her career, but she has also worked hard in education, earning a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School and an MA in economics from Cambridge University.
Ho Ching: Director, Temasek Trust
Singaporean businesswoman Ho Ching started out her career as an engineer at Singapore Technologies Group, working to become president and CEO prior to joining Temasek Trust in 2002. Temasek is among the world’s biggest investors, and although the trust’s value dropped during the pandemic, it has seen huge profits from investing in companies such as e-commerce site Alibaba, and DBS Banking Group.
Ching helped grow the company’s portfolio to more than S$381 billion (£219.8 billion) as of March 2021. Under her leadership, Temasek’s net portfolio more than quadrupled in value. Although she stepped down as CEO in 2021, she now holds the role of Director and has been appointed to govern Temasek’s philanthropic endowments. A role well suited to Chang as she has been credited with championing sustainability at Temasek.
Adena Freidman: President-CEO, NASDAQ
President of NASDAQ Adena Freidman made history as the first woman to lead a global stock exchange when she was appointed to the role in 2017. Starting as an intern in 1993, Freidnan has worked her way up within the company within the 24 years she has worked there. There have been a few other notable career steps including working for the world’s fourth-largest private equity firm The Carlyle Group as a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) from 2011 to 2014.
Freidman is currently focused on diversifying NASDAQ into a technology company where the aim is to focus on opportunities for growth, particularly within data research services. She also wants to bring investment companies back to the public market, making them more accessible.
Marianne Lake & Jennifer Piepszak: Co-CEOs, Consumer and Community Banking, JPMorgan Chase
Joint CEOs, Lake and Piepszak are responsible for 40% of JPMorgan Chase’s profits as they lead the Consumer and Community Banking division. Between them, they have 47 years of experience within the financial services industry, and each has a resume that compliments the other’s perfectly. Lake has experience as a financial executive and has a knack for numbers that is well known and respected within the industry, while Piepszak worked her way up in corporate and investment banking roles.
Both are in the running to succeed JPM’s current CEO Jamie Dimon, working as a pair in the top tier role. Although somewhat of an unusual move to have co-CEOs running such a large company, if pulled off, it’s likely to be extraordinary given the longstanding respect and support shown towards each other.
Thasunda Brown Duckett: CEO, TIAA
In 2021, Thasunda Brown Duckett was appointed president and CEO of the retirement and financial services company TIAA. Another alumni of JPMorgan Chase, Duckett was previously the company’s CEO of Consumer Banking. She oversaw 50,000 employees in a network with more than $600 billion in deposits (£478.1 billion). Prior to this role, she worked for mortgage giant Fannie Mae, leading strategies to increase the number of Black and Hispanic homeowners.
Duckett currently also serves on several boards including Nike, the National Medal of Honour Museum, and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organisation.
Mary Callahan Erdoes: CEO, Asset Management, JPMorgan Chase
Head of Asset and Wealth Management Mary Callahan Erdoes oversees $3.1 trillion (£2.5 trillion) in client assets. The company is one of the largest and most respected investment managers in the world having built up a 200-year old legacy of working with all kinds of clients from governments to individuals.
Erdoes has worked for JPMorgan Chase for 25 years and has held many senior roles, particularly in the Asset and Wealth Management sector. She is also considered a strong option for CEO, competing with Marianne Lake and Jennifer Piepszak when the current CEO retires.
Cathie Wood: Founder, ARK
Cathie Wood is an American investor who founded ARK Investment Management LLC after working for other investment firms, with the hopes of packaging active stock portfolios in an exchange-traded fund (ETF) format. Before Wood founded ARK, she spent 12 years at AllianceBernstein as the Chief Investment Officer of Global Thematic Strategies, managing over $5 billion in clients.
Now, the aim of her company is to be able to identify large-scale investment opportunities in the public markets from technological advancements in fields such as artificial intelligence, energy storage, and DNA sequencing. For this reason, she is a booster of Elon Musk’s Tesla which she has high hopes for.
Abby Joseph Cohen: Chief Investment Strategist, Goldman Sachs
The face of the 1990s bull market, Abby Joseph Cohen was the Chief Investment Strategist for Goldman Sachs until she retired in 2021. Cohen now lectures as a Professor of Business at the Columbia Business School, providing valuable insight into being a senior investment strategist.
Her career started in 1976 at T. Rowe Price Associates where she worked for eight years. Cohen also worked as an economist at the Federal Reserve Board, before joining Goldman Sachs in 1990 and being named partner in 1998. Although retired, her opinions on the stock market are still well respected and she shares them with many government policymakers and regulators, alongside liaising with long-term clients.