By Ken Sweet
Citigroup's Jane Fraser will become the first woman to ever lead a Wall Street bank when she succeeds CEO Michael Corbat in February.
The New York bank announced the succession Thursday.
Fraser is currently head of Citi's global consumer banking division, a major part of the bank that oversees checking and savings accounts but also Citi's massive credit card business. She's been with Citi for 16 years and had recently been tasked with leading the clean up of the bank's troubled Latin American banking business.
Fraser will be the first woman to lead one of Wall Street's big six banks, a major accomplishment in an industry long dominated by men. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has had two women as his second-in-command for years — Marianne Lake and Jennifer Piepszak — but shows no signs of stepping down.
In a congressional hearing last year, the CEOs of the Wall Street banks were asked whether they expected to be succeeded by a woman in their roles, and no man raised his hand at the time. Fraser will be one of only 32 female CEOs running a company in the S&P 500, according to Equilar.
When Fraser does take over for Corbat in February, it's almost certain the U.S. and global economies will still be dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Since early this year, banks have set aside billions to cover potential loan losses as businesses and customers alike have fallen behind on payments. With a vaccine still months away at least and the U.S. economy in a deep recession, the problems for borrowers are expected only to get worse as the country heads into the fall and winter.
Corbat led Citigroup for eight years, rebuilding the bank after it nearly collapsed during the Great Recession and 2008 financial crisis. The federal government had to step in to buy a stake in Citi to keep it afloat, and the bank had some of the most toxic assets on its books of all the major banks during this time.
Corbat turned Citi into a much smaller and stable entity, focusing on its credit card businesses and its international banking franchise. It was able to pass the Federal Reserve's "stress tests," which test a bank's resiliency, and is considered a much healthier institution now than it ever was before the financial crisis.
Citi declined to make Fraser available for interviews. In a prepared statement, Fraser said, "Citi is an incredible institution with a proud history and a bright future. I am excited to join with my colleagues in writing the next chapter."