The Most Powerful Women in Finance

The world of finance has long been predominately male, especially at the more senior level. According to the 2018 Global Diversity Tracker, only 12.2% of CFOs are female and in the top 20 financial services firms in the world, only 18% of the executive committee is female. Becoming an influential presence in global finance requires hard work, intelligence, and tenacity no matter who you are, but given the small number of women in powerful financial roles, the accomplishments of these women become even more noteworthy.

Christine Lagarde

Previously, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (resigned September 2019), Christine Lagarde is not only one of the most powerful women in finance, she’s one of the most powerful people in finance. Lagarde previously served as France’s minister of economic affairs, industry, and employment and she played a major role in the negotiations surrounding the Greek bailout.

 Lubna Olayan

Since 1986, Lubna Olayan has been the president and CEO of Olayan Financing Company (OFC). OFC is the Saudi arm of the Olayan Group, which is one of the largest firms in Saudi Arabia. Beyond her role as CEO and President, Olayan has also advocated and supported more progressive business practices in the Middle East. Olayan became the first woman to join the board of a publicly held company in Saudi Arabia when she was elected to the Board of Saudi Hollandi Bank, in 2004. Olayan also serves on the Women Leadership Initative and Arab Business Council of the World Economic Forum. Currently, Olayan was named chairman of Saudi British Bank, she is the first woman to chair a Saudi-listed company.

Abigail Johnson

Abigail Johnson is the Chairman and CEO of Fidelity Investments, one of the world’s largest mutual fund firms. Though her father owns Fidelity Investments, Johnson began her career at the bottom of the corporate ladder as a stock analyst, after having first earned an MBA from Harvard and then worked as a consultant at Booz Allen & Hamilton. It is rumored that Johnson is in line to take over the CEO role after the retirement of 89-year-old Edward C. Johnson III.

Gail Kelly

Gail Kelly is the former CEO of Westpac Bank of Austrailia, the second largest bank in Australia and is known as Australia’s most influential businesswoman. Kelly earned an MBA while pregnant and began her career as a bank teller. Kelly’s swift rise through the ranks of Westpac was based largely on her managerial skills and her ability to continiously increase profitability.

Mary Callahan Erdoes

Mary Callahan Erdoes is the CEO of the Asset and Wealth Management division of JP Morgan, which has over $2.7 trillion in client assets. Erdoes has led the division for over a decade. One focus for Erdoes, which has seen considerable success, is growing the digital investment offerings of JP Morgan Chase. It’s believed that Erdoes may be in line to take current JP Morgan Chase CEO, Jamie Denison’s spot after he leaves.

These women have made their way to the top of a highly competitative industry and have become incredibly powerful in the world of finance. The decisions they make have the potential to influence not only the financial industry, but the entire global economy.

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