Welcome to CFA's Women in Commercial Finance Committee Community!

In 2013, the CFA Women in Commercial Finance Committee was formed in order to support women involved in asset-based lending and factoring. The mission of the Committee is to promote the advancement of women in leadership in the commercial finance industry through networking, education, and advocacy. Kathy Bell of Paul Hastings serves as current chair of the Committee.  The Committee has over 80 members, making it CFA’s largest committee. For information on becoming a part of the Committee, please contact Michele Ocejo at mocejo@cfa.com.


What the Data Says About Women in Management



Women in Banking

Women in the financial services industry making news this week.

Wall Street women march on Washington: Women working on male-dominated Wall Street often feel that it is better to draw as little attention to their sex as possible, and public demonstrations of any kind are not the norm for them. Yet dozens of them made the trek to Washington to participate in the Women's March this past Saturday. "I never have done anything like this in my life before, and I just feel like it's a time when everybody has to stand up for what they believe in," said Lebenthal & Company President and Chief Executive Alexandra Lebenthal, who identified herself as a Hillary Clinton supporter. As is to be expected, some Wall Street women said they avoided the march, fearing backlash from colleagues, superiors or clients who were either Trump supporters or critics of public activism (and of course, many financial companies' share prices surged since the election, a potentially positive sign for compensation at those firms for women and men alike). "I have friends that voted for Trump," Lebenthal said. "I have a major issue with that, but it's their right. And I wouldn't stop doing business with that person if they voted for Trump." Likewise, she isn't concerned about the possibility that clients could reconsider doing business with her over her involvement with the march. "If that happens, it happens," she said.

The future (of UBS) is female: The wealth management arm of UBS is "retraining" its advisers to deliver a more female-friendly customer experience. Specifically, women will be "served with a different dialogue that places greater focus on their aspirations as opposed to pure investment outcomes," the bank said this week. Women's global wealth is expected to grow from $13 trillion to $18 trillion by 2021, according to UBS research. The bank also predicted the amount of private wealth controlled by women will grow 1.6% faster year-over-year than that controlled by men. The new training for advisers recognizes that women have "very distinct" needs, said Olga Miller, managing director at UBS Wealth Management. The bank also has committed to increasing the ratio of women in management roles from one quarter to one third.

On the sidelines: While some regional bank CEOs have said they are open to pursuing deals, others are focused on making the most of acquisitions they have already done. Take Beth Mooney, KeyCorp's chairman and CEO. She said there are opportunities for her bank to capitalize on new business lines it entered through its purchase of First Niagara last year. For example, First Niagara's $3 billion indirect auto portfolio can help Key deepen existing customer relationships and stimulate growth, she said.

What's the five year plan?: Major U.K. banks may not get a female CEO for at least five years, according to Megan Butler, the Financial Conduct Authority's head of supervision. She's losing patience with the country's white male bank culture. "It's extremely rare that in my professional life I have a conversation with a head of desk at an investment bank or a global head of business that is anything other than a white male," she said at the Women in Finance Summit in London. "I've increasingly come to find that a little bit difficult to take." Butler began her career in finance in the 1980s, when she was usually the token woman. Today she supervises most major U.K. financial firms and it looks almost the same, she said. "For 20 years I was completely resistant to the idea of having targets on gender. I found it patronizing and insulting and I didn't want there to be any taint on any achievement I ever had. But I look back and there hasn't been significant change quickly enough."

Dress codes for women only: The U.K. parliament published a report this week revealing that legislation meant to ban sexist dress codes in the workplace hasn't been enforced and suggesting firms be fined for noncompliance with the law. The report, "High Heels and Workplace Dress Codes," also found that workplace dress codes were more strictly enforced with women than with their male counterparts. In addition, women reported being asked to wear shorter skirts and unbutton blouses. Now the two parliamentary committees that jointly issued the report - the committees for Petitions and for Women and Equalities - are calling for a review of current equality legislation. Incidentally, this week's report runs counter to previous reassurances from now U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May that the country's existing equality laws are adequate. In 2011, when she was women's minister, she dismissed concerns about traditional gender-based dress codes, saying they "encourage a sense of professionalism in the workplace." (The report got underway after the infamous incident with Nicola Thorp. You may recall that the former temp receptionist at PwC was dismissed without pay after she arrived at work wearing flat shoes and refused to go out and buy a pair of two- to four-inch heels to wear instead.)

Role call
Blue Gate Bank in Costa Mesa, Calif., has opened, with Molly Gallaher Flater as its chairman. Flater, whose family is the principal shareholder group for First Community Bank in Santa Rosa, Calif., began taking steps to form Blue Gate in 2015, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. approved the bank's charter application in October. That's no small feat - de novos have been a rarity since the financial crisis.

The online-only First Internet Bank has promoted Nicole Lorch to chief operating officer. Lorch, who has been with the bank since it opened in 1999, was most recently senior vice president of retail banking.

In case you missed it
Tilting point: The collateralized loan obligation funds operated by Lynn Tilton's private equity firm, Patriarch Partners, are suing her for siphoning more than $1 billion in fees and assets from investors and the troubled companies she manages. She has denied the allegations against her and called the lawsuit "frivolous, baseless and vexatious." According to the lawsuit, Tilton has been running a racket, not a turnaround empire. "The Patriarch Enterprise's repeated, continuous, and flagrant violations of law constitute a pattern of racketeering activity," it says. Tilton has been dealing with a lot of legal trouble lately, including fraud charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission and a lawsuit from the German bank Norddeutsche Landesbank.

Beyond banking
Am I dateable?: It appears that women's progress in the job market is at odds with their success in the marriage market. A new study shows single women have a tendency to downplay their success and their career goals - including salary expectations - around men, whether consciously or subconsciously. One theory is that this behavior is a response to the unconscious bias against women who come across as ambitious. Despite efforts to advance women's equality, men are still rewarded for being assertive and successful -- in their professional and personal lives - while women are not. Actions that may help women advance at work like speaking up in meetings or asking for a raise signal ambition or assertiveness, "and those things are penalized for women in the marriage market," said Amanda Pallais, an economist at Harvard University and co-author of the study. In the study MBA students were asked to state their career goals. When women thought only the evaluator would view their statements, they set a higher bar for themselves. But when they believed their peers would also see, the salary requests were significantly smaller and the career goals were less ambitious for the unmarried women compared with the men and the married women.

A seat, and voice, at the table: Tomorrow, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May meets with Donald Trump, becoming the first European leader to do so since he became president. Following the women's marches in cities around the world last weekend, May promised to speak up whenever necessary about women's issues, as she tries to secure the U.K.'s "special relationship" with the new U.S. administration. "When I sit down (with Trump) I think the biggest statement that will be made about the role of women is the fact that I will be there as a female prime minister," she said. "Whenever there is something that I find unacceptable I won't be afraid to say that to Donald Trump."

Put this on today's to-do list: Closing the gender pay gap is not a one-and-done type of project. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff acknowledged in Davos that, although it was only 14 months ago that it managed to close its gender pay gap, it also just bought "a bunch of companies," thereby inheriting their cultures and pay practices. Now, Salesforce is looking forward to making some more employee compensation tweaks. "Every CEO needs to look at if they're paying men and woman the same," he said. "That is something that every single CEO can do today." 


CFA’s Women in Commercial Finance Committee Partners
With HSBC and Paul Hastings for Dynamic Panel Event

By Michele Ocejo

On September 23, the CFA Women in Commercial Finance Committee partnered with HSBC and Paul Hastings to offer women in the CFA Community a complimentary lunch and panel presentation. Katherine Bell, Chairperson, CFA Women in Commercial Finance Committee and Partner, Paul Hastings LLP, moderated the discussion. Panelists included Inwha Huh, Vice Chair, CFA Women in Commercial Finance Committee and EVP & Head of Global Trade and Receivables Finance, North America, HSBC; Janet Jarrett, Managing Director, Head of Asset Based Lending, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey; Laurie Muller-Girard, Executive Vice President, KeyBank Commercial Segment and Specialty Lending; and Andrea Petro, CFA President and Executive Vice President, Wells Fargo Capital Finance.

The panelists all served on the CFA 40 Under 40 Awards Leadership Council and the event was planned to complement the 40 Under 40 Awards Celebration, held the previous evening at the Waldorf Astoria. The lunch event attracted close to 100 women from around the U.S. and from a variety of organizations, including lenders, attorneys and valuation professionals. 

Bob Trojan, CEO of the Commercial Finance Association, kicked off the event with words of welcome. Kathy Bell, moderator, started the panel by asking the participants to give an overview of their “journey” to success. The theme of “things don’t always go as planned” was obvious throughout the discussion. Petro said she did not have a plan per se, but knew she wanted to be a lender early on. Her philosophy “don’t ask, don’t get” resonated with the crowd. She emphasized there must be good work behind the request, but it’s important to ask for what you want.

Muller-Girard said she asks herself a few standard questions twice a year: “Is this fun?” “Am I challenged?” “Am I being well utilized?” “Do I respect the people I work with?” in order to take stock of her career at the moment.

Jarrett advised knowing your strengths and leveraging them. “Find people to supplement your weaknesses,” she said. She also mentioned building a network, both formal and informal, so people who are “in the room” during the important discussions know who you are and what you are capable of.

Huh listed standing out in the crowd as a challenge. She advised that you have to go above and beyond just being good at your job in order to achieve this. She also said your plan should not focus on getting promoted as much as on learning and growing. 
Petro emphasized the importance of having a sponsor, which differs from a mentor. In a New York Times op-ed article, Sylvia Ann Hewlett explained the difference between sponsors and mentors this way: “Mentors act as a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on, offering advice as needed and support and guidance as requested; they expect very little in return. Sponsors, in contrast, are much more vested in their protégés, offering guidance and critical feedback because they believe in them.” 
“The reason that I am in asset-based lending is that I had a sponsor who recruited me from banking into asset-based lending. It was one of the most important thing that happened to me in my career,” she said.

The other panelists agreed that sponsors are an invaluable asset, especially the more senior you become in your career, which increases the emphasis on soft skills. Huh said a couple key sponsors can fast track your career and stressed that being a sponsor also has its advantages. “We launched a future leaders program, made up of millennials who also act as my ‘advisory council’. It is critical to get fresh ideas and advice outside of your immediate leadership team.

Jarrett told the audience she has what she calls an “advisory panel” comprised of both men and women. She bounces ideas and situations off of them on a regular basis. “Seeing the same situation through different lenses can be helpful,” she said. 
Bell asked the panel what were the biggest challenges they faced when they first stepped into a leadership role. Jarrett said, “Your immediate inclination as a leader is to want everyone to do things the way you did it…so you need to learn your role is to make each team member the best they can be.”

“Initially we focus on developing ourselves as leaders, but as you grow, leadership is no longer about you it’s about your team and it’s about your business. Your business and how good your team is become a reflection of how good you are as a leader,” said Huh.
“I think you need to be positive and even. And blaming any member of your team for a mistake should be avoided,” said Petro. She explained that the Wells Fargo culture discourages the “blame game”. “It’s a hard rule to conform to, but it’s certainly effective,” she said.

Muller-Girard said it’s essential as a leader to recognize the whole team and avoid an “us vs. them” mentality in terms of different roles within the department.

Bell asked how the leaders communicate with their direct reports on a day-to-day basis. Petro listed structured meetings she holds regularly and explained if there is something out of the ordinary, team members will inform her in between the scheduled meetings. Huh said it is all about balance and knowing how much to delegate. “It isn’t always easy to develop a strong enough team so you can concentrate on strategy,” Huh said. She also holds structured meetings, including one-on-ones so that she can truly get to know her team members. “This is a business of people,” she pointed out.


Michele Ocejo is editor-in-chief of The Secured Lender. She is also the CFA staff liaison for the Women in Commercial Finance Committee. If you are interested in joining the Committee, please contact her mocejo@cfa.com.


CFA 71st Annual Convention- WICF Update!

Dress for Success Drive at CFA Annual Convention

CFA’s Women in Commercial Finance Committee is partnering with the Austin Chapter of Dress for Success during CFA’s Annual Convention in Austin.

Dress for Success is a global not-for-profit organization that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

Since starting operations in 1997, Dress for Success has expanded to more than 140 cities in 19 countries and has helped more than 850,000 women work towards self-sufficiency.

The Dress for Success Drive took place during the Women in Commercial Finance Networking Reception on November 11 at the JW Marriott Austin. 

WICF Breakfast at the 71st Annual Convention...Great group of successful ladies!


Women in Commercial Finance “In the News”

July 1, 2015

Kate Lepak, Chair of WICF, senior vice president, People’s United Business Capital

In a few short years, the Women in Commercial Finance Committee (“WICF”), has become a force to be reckoned with at CFA.  Founded in 2013 by a number of prominent women at CFA, to include Debbie Monosson, president of Boston Financial & Equity Corp., Gail Bernstein, executive vice president of PNC Business Credit and Andrea Petro, executive vice president of Wells Fargo Capital Finance, WICF is the largest committee in the Association, at nearly 70 members.  With the original goal to connect with women members at CFA to provide a comfortable environment for networking, WICF has evolved to a defined strategic plan fueled by a limitless supply of ideas vetted and developed by a series of dedicated subcommittees.  Our volunteer members have organized our mission and have built an infrastructure to support it:

“Our mission is to promote the advancement of women in leadership in the commercial finance industry through networking, education and advocacy.”

 Guided by the Strategic Planning Subcommittee chaired by Kathy Bell, a partner at Paul Hastings LLP, WICF has identified the pillars to our success as “Connect,” “Educate,” and “Inspire.”  Kathy’s team works across the Committee to impact our national visibility, our presence in the local Chapters, and our outreach to member firms with Diversity and Women’s Networking groups to continue the diversity dialogue on many levels.

Our Convention, Social Media, Thought Leadership, and Mentoring Subcommittees have been hard at work executing our vision:

  • We are connecting with high-profile women in the industry: Sallie Krawcheck spoke at our 2014 Annual Convention in Washington DC as a WICF event. Sheila Bair will be the Keynote Speaker at the Thursday luncheon at our 2015 Annual Convention in Austin, TX
  • We are deepening our online outreach: our Social Media team chaired by Jennifer Sheasgreen, president of Triumph Healthcare Finance, has adopted a social media policy, is building our online “Community” page to showcase our members and our activities, and has opened Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest accounts on our behalf, in addition to maintaining our existing LinkedIn GroupWe are connecting with our younger professionals through our Mentoring Sub-committee, chaired by Gina Mackenzie, strategic partnership manager at RapidAdvance, and through our Young Professionals Thought Leadership Award (formerly the Essay Contest), chaired by Betty Hernandez, executive vice president/chief credit officer of North Mill Capital LLC – both groups are working together with YoPro! to leverage the best and most efficient way to engage the Millennial generation.

Many thanks to the CFA for providing this platform and opportunity, and to Michele Ocejo, editor-in-chief of The Secured Lender and CFA staff liaison for WICF, for all her hard work in keeping the forward motion.  We’ve come a long way in a short time – I look forward to continuing our mission on every level.

For more information, check out the About Us page!

Help Us Learn More About You

Take the Women in Commercial Finance Survey and let's build a stronger community

Listen to the podcast of the Joint CFA/TMA Event hosted by our Midwest Chapter Women and YoPro Committees on Oct. 24, 2018.

Midwest Chapter April 28th WICF Luncheon Sold OUT at 56 registrants!

CFA’s Women In Commercial Finance
Midwest Chapter April 28th WICF Luncheon Sold OUT at 56 registrants!
The event was a huge success. Women were able to enjoy a glass of wine, relax and network with the newly formed CFA Midwest Chapter Women's Committee.
The committee is excited to begin expanding and connecting with all women in commercial finance.
Questions? Contact any member of the Women's Committee or Ann McAndrew, Chapter Administrator at 847-202-4166 or via email at cfamidwest@gmail.com.

Chicago Chapter Inaugural Women's Speed Networking Lunch

The Chicago Chapter held the inaugural women's speed networking lunch this past week. It was the first event to sell out with 50 women in finance. We heard great comments from participants on the way out. 

Standing in the photo is Sandra Evans from US Bank, one of the committee members who helped plan this event.

 We want to thank all who attended the event for the successful turnout! 


Women In Banking: Finding Sustainable Solutions