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6 Women Changing The Face Of Leadership In Banking And Finance



Women have always made an impact in the world of finance and banking, but they are being observed closer than ever in today’s market. Women are taking on more and more executive leadership roles across the board in the financial and banking world, including many at Fortune 500 companies. Here are five inspiring women to watch who prioritize community, diversity, and women as they lead in their workplace. 

Thasunda Brown Duckett

Thasunda Brown Duckett serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA). Before joining TIAA, Duckett worked as Chief Executive Officer of Chase Consumer Banking. Prior to that Duckett has served in executive roles at Chase Auto Finance, Chase Mortgage Banking, and Fannie Mae. At TIAA and in her previous roles, Duckett strives to help communities of color achieve financial, educational, and career success. Duckett is very active in her community and serves on the boards of several companies and universities. To further support her community, Duckett founded Otis and Rosie Brown Foundation to recognize those who make great impacts in their communities. 

Diane Morais

Diane Morais is President of Consumer & Commercial Banking at Ally Bank, where she was instrumental in launching the Ally brand in 2009. At Ally, Morais oversees Ally’s customer care and Community Reinvestment Program. Before her work at Ally, Morais worked for twelve years at Bank of America and nine years at Citibank in various roles. Recognizing her leadership, American Banker Magazine placed Morais on their ‘25 Most Powerful Women in Banking’ list for five consecutive years. Morais is active in her community in Charlotte, where she serves as Executive in Residence for Queens University and volunteers for several institutions. Her career and community activity saw her named one of only 25 outstanding businesswomen who earned one of Charlotte Business Journal’s 2018 Women in Business Awards. 

Lule Demissie 

Lule Demissie is the US CEO of eToro, a social investing network. At eToro, Demissie oversees the company’s expansion and investment within the US and is helping to build a customer-centric platform to increase adoption. Before her time at eToro, Demissie was President of Ally Invest where she led Ally Invest Securities, Ally Invest Advisors, and API Business Lines. Demissie has also worked in various roles at J.P. Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and TD Ameritrade. Stemming from her range of intersectional identities as a woman of color and a member of the LGBTQ community, Demissie seeks to empower everyone from any community to take control of their finances. She received TD Ameritrade’s 2015 Impact Award recognizing her commitment to diverse perspectives. 

Holly Hynes 

Holly Hynes is the Chief Marketing Officer for Wells Fargo Consumer and Small Business Banking. Hynes has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, including brand strategy, digital marketing, advertising, social media, and more. Before starting as CMO at Wells Fargo CSBB, Hynes worked for 11 years at Huntington Bank. There she held various roles such as head of Brand, Digital Experience Innovation, Strategy, and Consumer and Business Marketing. At Huntington Bank, Hynes also developed many new marketing capabilities. Before this, Hynes directed marketing strategy at Direct Energy and Nationwide Insurance. Hynes believes that all of life’s moments intersect with money and has dedicated her career to helping simplify the complexities of wealth for everyone.


Mary Kate Loftus 

Mary Kate Loftus is the Senior Vice President, Director of Digital for M&T Bank. Loftus started at M&T in 2018 as the Head of Strategic Planning for the Consumer & Business Bank. Loftus has over 20 years of experience in financial services. Loftus is committed to providing consumers with financial freedom and recognizes the difference community banks and financial wellness makes in people’s lives. Loftus enjoys conversations about future trends and has been a guest on several podcasts including, the Breaking Banks podcast, the Global Digital Banker podcast, and Business Insider podcasts. Loftus advocates for diversity and sponsors upcoming talent through the African American Resource Group. 

Jennifer Roberts 

Jennifer Roberts is the Chief Executive Officer of Chase Consumer Banking. Before that, Roberts was the Chief Executive Officer of Chase Business Banking. Roberts has been a leader at Chase since 1996, serving in executive roles in Card Services, Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire products, loyalty, and acquisitions. Roberts is active in her community, serving as a board member for Philadelphia’s public radio station, WHYY. Roberts seeks to promote diversity in the workplace as executive sponsor of Chase’s Hispanic Leadership Forum.


Teacher, Police And Firefighter Pensions Are Being Secretly Looted By Wall Street



America’s severely underfunded public pensions are allocating ever-greater assets to the highest cost, highest risk, most secretive investments ever devised by Wall Street, such private equity, hedge funds, real estate, and commodities—all in a desperate search for higher net returns that, not surprisingly (given the outlandish fees and risks), fail to materialize. Transparency—public scrutiny and accountability—has been abandoned, as pensions agree to Wall Street secrecy schemes that eviscerate public records laws.

Our nation’s state and federal securities laws are premised upon full disclosure of all material risks and fees to investors: “Read the prospectus before you invest,” is the oft-cited warning by securities regulators. Nevertheless, teachers, police, firefighters and other government workers today are not allowed to see how their retirement savings are managed or, more likely, mismanaged by Wall Street.

For nearly a decade, the United States Securities and Exchange Commision has warned investors that malfeasance and bogus fees are commonplace in so-called “alternative” investments and, more recently, Chairman Gary Gensler has called for greater transparency to increase competition and lower fees.

Gensler has asked the agency’s staff to consider recommendations on ways to bring greater transparency to fee arrangements in private markets. “More competition and transparency could potentially bring greater efficiencies to this important part of the capital markets,” he said. “This could help lower the cost of capital for businesses raising money. This could raise the returns for the pensions and endowments behind the limited partner investors. This ultimately could help workers preparing for retirement and families paying for their college educations.”

Gensler has stated he would like to see a reduction in the fees these investments charge and has also commented on industry abuses such as ”side letters” which permit private funds to secretly give preferences to certain investors—preferences which harm public pensions.


But that’s not good enough to protect public pension stakeholders.

No one—including the pensions themselves—seems to care that the government workers whose retirement security is at risk are being kept in the dark.

The SEC needs to do more—actually alert public pensioners as to those abuses the Commission knows full well are rampant, at a minumum. Advise them, Chairman Gensler, to demand to see and read prospectuses and other offering documents related to their hard-earned savings.

Does the SEC think it’s kosher for Wall Street to conspire with public pension officials to withhold this information from investors—any investors?

Since my 2013 forensic investigation of the Rhode Island state pension exposing gross mismanagement by then General Treasurer Gina Raimondo which I accurately predicted would cost workers dearly; my 2014 North Carolina state pension investigation exposing that $30 billion in assets had been moved into secretive, offshore accounts and, most recently, my investigation of the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, I have provided my expert findings to the SEC staff for their review. Each and every public pension forensic investigation I have undertaken has extensively discussed Wall Street secrecy schemes that enable looting. In my book, How To Steal A Lot Money—Legally, I quote disclosures from SEC filings that detail industry abuses.

Join me, Chairman Gensler, in giving government workers a clue, a glimpse, a peek, at the alternative investment abusive industry practices that are carefully guarded by Wall Street and being hidden from them.

Teachers, police and firefighters deserve a fighting chance to protect their retirement savings.

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It Is Time To Buy Bonds



US 10-year note prices are likely to rise through August. The monthly histogram below shows that July and August have been the two strongest months for the note price.

Monthly Return- US 10-Year Notes

Blue: Average Percentage Change

Red: Probability of a rise on that day

Green: Expected Return (Product of the first 2)

These numbers are static in the sense that they change little over the years. This is only one cycle, the one-year cycle, whereas there are many cycles operative at any one time. In order to get a reading on such other rhythms, a scan is run to identify other profitable price cycles. The graph below reveals the most valuable cycles that are operative at any one time.

10-Year Note Monthly Cycle


These cycles reinforce the seasonal tendency for notes to rise. Prices have risen in 60% to 65% of the time in these summer months. With the dynamic cycle also in ascent, the probabilities rise to about 65% to over 70%. There are similar and supportive developments in the Japanese and German fixed income markets.

The cycle projection must be confirmed by market activity. The daily graph reveals that price broke through a downtrend line.

10-Year Notes Broke Through Resistance

Here is a helpful sentiment indicator that supports the bullish view. The cover page of this week’s Barron’s points to much higher rates. Applying contrary opinion, this suggests lower rates and higher note and bond prices. The first objective is 123.0.

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Will There Be War Over Taiwan – The Next Spy Thriller



I usually go through a rhythm of reading one or two serious books, followed by a few works of fiction and with summer on the way I wanted to highlight a few of both. In that regard I have just finished Laurence Durrell’s ‘White Eagles in Serbia’, an old-fashioned espionage thriller where the hero Colonel Methuen is dropped behind enemy lines in post war Serbia (he speaks excellent Serbo-Croat) and becomes embroiled in a violent plot to overthrow Tito.

The book is a warm-up to reading Durrell’s ‘The Alexandria Quartet’, a work that nearly won him the Nobel Prize. Durrell was part of an interesting Anglo-Irish family, who largely considered themselves Indian – his brother Gerald, the naturalist and writer, touches on this in ‘My Family and Other Animals’.


Though I am not an expert on these matters, I found ‘White Eagles’ a more realistic account of espionage than much of what we see in the media today (Mick Herron’s ‘Slow Horses’ is good), and overall it is a tale of derring-do that is more in keeping with the work of the founding fathers of the genre – Eric Ambler, John Buchan, Erskine Childers and Ted Allebury for example.

It also made opportune reading given what seems to be an epidemic of espionage – with reports of the Chinese hacking group APT40 using graduates to infiltrate Western corporates and notably the admission by the head of Switzerland’s intelligence that Russian espionage is rife in that country (notably in Geneva – for which readers should consult Somerset Maugham’s ‘Ashenden’ as background material).

These and other trends – such as the outbreak of a heavy cyber battle last week (against Lithuania and Norway for instance) and the increasingly public ‘clandestine’ war between Israel and Iran (they have just sacked their spy chief) point to a world that is ever more contested and complex.


Secret World

One of the new trends in the space is cyber espionage – both in the sense of stealing state and industrial/corporate secrets, influencing actors (such as the manipulation of the 2016 US Presidential election) and outright acts of hostility such as the hacking of public databases and utilities (i.e. healthcare systems). Here, if readers are looking for some serious literature I can recommend two excellent books – Nicole Perlroth’s ‘This is how they tell me the world ends’ and ‘Secret World’ by Christopher Andrew.

I am personally more intrigued by the difference between a spy and a strategist. A spy’s work could well be described as the pursuit of information about someone who is acting with a specific intent, as well as a sense of their reaction function. There are plenty of examples – from Christine Joncourt (‘La Putain de la Republique’) to Richard Sorge (see Owen Matthews’ ‘An Impeccable Spy’).

In contrast a strategist may try to plot trends and the opportunities, spillovers and damage they may cause. The US National Intelligence department is good in this regard, becoming the first major intelligence agency to publish detailed warnings on the side effects of climate damage.

Spies and strategists might work together, but history is full of examples (LC Moyzisch’s ‘Operation Cicero’) where intelligence fails to make it through the strategic process or is simply ignored for political reasons (might the early warnings on the invasion of Ukraine be an example).

Asia next?

In the spirit of the Durrells and Flemings of the world, what issues might be of interest in terms of digging into unknown knowns and unknown unknowns. Here are a few ideas, most of which are Asia focused (we might see an uptick in Asia focused thrillers).

On the diplomatic front, an interesting recent development was the visit of Indonesian president Joko Widodo to Ukraine, and then Moscow. It was a rare visit to Ukraine by an Asian leader and potentially marks the emergence or at least aspiration of Indonesia (population 273 million) as an emerging world diplomatic player. What has intrigued me so far is that there has been little coordination by the populous emerging (largely Muslim) nations (Nigeria, Indonesia, Pakistan) in the face of high energy and food prices, and that potentially Widodo could play a unifying role here.

Then, still in Asia, but on a more deadly footing, if the Western commentariat is to be believed, China is preparing an assault on Taiwan, and looking to learn from Russia’s military errors in this regard. Other countries are reacting, and I suspect that there will be much intrigue around Taiwan’s ability to acquire sufficiently powerful ballistic missiles that could strike the coastal cities of China, and relatedly how long might it take Japan to produce nuclear missiles (my sources say they could very ambitiously do it in five months!).

So, whilst the espionage literature of the 20th century has tended to be focused on Geneva, Berlin and London in the 21st century we may find ourselves reading about ‘behind the lines’ exploits in Jakarta and Tanegashima.

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