In a significant development, Citigroup Inc has named Jane Fraser, the head of its consumer banking division, as its next CEO, marking her as the first woman to break the glass ceiling to lead a major Wall Street bank.
With a career spanning in investment banking, troubled mortgage workouts and strategy in Latin America – a key geography for Citigroup, and wealth management, Fraser, 53, has been a rising star in the financial industry.
She will take charge in February 2021 after current CEO Michael Corbat steps down, said the bank.
“Great news for the company and for women everywhere!” tweeted Bank of America Corp operations and technology chief Cathy Bessant.
“A big and fantastic moment.”
In an internal memo, Corbat characterized Fraser’s appointment to the helm as groundbreaking, and as a point of pride for Citigroup.
“I’m often asked, ‘Can you have it all? Can you do it all?’” said Fraser at a 2016 event hosted by an international business society. “And I say, ‘Yes, you can, but you can’t do it all at once and don’t expect everything at once.”
The development sees Fraser joining a small group of women who have broken through the glass ceiling to emerge at the C-suite at major financial companies.
In this year’s list of Fortune 500 companies, 37 are led by women.
Fraser started her career in Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s M&A department in London; she then moved to Asesores Bursátiles in Madrid. She joined Citigroup sixteen years ago and is credited internally with helping the bank recover from the 2007-2009 financial crisis the bank had to take $45 billion in taxpayer funds to survive.
Through the years, she has run client strategy in Citi’s investment bank, as well as its private bank, its mortgage business and its operations in Latin America, which accounted for 14% of annual revenue in 2019.
Her name was also floated as a potential CEO candidate at Wells Fargo & Co in 2019, before the board settled on Charles Scharf, a former JPMorgan executive.
In October 2019, Fraser was promoted as the Citi’s president and tasked to head its global consumer bank; the move was widely perceived as being a precursor to her elevation.
According to Dylan Haggart, a partner at ValueAct Capital, which owns 27 million shares in Citigroup, in recent years the hedge fund had worked closely with Fraser and had developed a “deep appreciation for her ability to lead thoughtful strategic transformation and drive operational results.”
“Investors will need to hear more from Jane, sooner rather than later,” said Credit Suisse analyst Susan Roth Katzke regarding her promotion.