Senator Elizabeth Warren singled out JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon during a banking committee hearing, grilling him over Chase’s decision to continue collecting nearly $1.5 billion in overdraft charges from customers during the pandemic.
Joining Dimon were the CEOs of Citibank, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo, which took in a combined $4 billion in fees from checking customers who had no money in their accounts during the pandemic, against the recommendations of bank regulators.
At the start of the pandemic, Warren explained, the bank regulators told financial institutions that they would not be charged a fee if their accounts at the Federal Reserve were overdrawn. The regulators also recommended the banks extend the same automatic protection to their customers.
Senator Elizabeth Warren asked the CEOs to raise their hands if they had followed that guidance.
“I’m not seeing anyone raise a hand, and that’s because none of you gave the same help to your customers that the bank regulators extended to you – help that the regulators recommended that you give,” Warren said.
Instead, the four leading Wall Street banks, which handle tens of millions of retail checking accounts, charged customers a combined $4 billion in fees during the pandemic when their balances hit zero.
According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, those customers were more likely to be African American or Hispanic, or be earning less than $50,000 per year. Figures from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau show that just 8% of account holders are responsible for three-quarters of overdraft fees.
Singling out Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan, whom she called “the star of the overdraft show,” Warren asked if waiving the nearly $1.5 billion it collected in overdraft fees would have put the bank into financial trouble.
“We waived the fees every time a customer asked because of Covid,” Dimon replied.
“Your profits would have been $27.6 billion,” Warren said. “I did the math for you.”
“Mr. Dimon, will you commit right now to refund the $1.5 billion you took from consumers during the pandemic?” she continued.
“No,” he said.
The other three executives also declined Warren’s request.
“Last year, when customers said they were struggling, we waived fees on over 1 million deposit accounts, including overdraft fees – no questions asked,” Chase spokesperson Amy Bonitatibus said in a statement to Insider.
A previous study found Chase charges more than average for overdraft fees, generating more than $35 per account, compared with Citi, which charges less than $5 per account, according to Aaron Klein, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
“Overdraft is an expensive fee they charge only on those people who run out of money that goes straight to short-term profits,” Klein told the New York Times in April.
Buffett dumped the banks because he feared Berkshire was overexposed to the sector and could suffer if the pandemic worsened, he said at Berkshire’s recent shareholder meeting. “We overall didn’t want as much in banks as we had,” he said.
The investor also pointed out that the banks have the Federal Reserve as a safety net if the financial system freezes up, but Berkshire doesn’t. “It’s up to us take care of ourselves,” he said.
Buffett may be sleeping more soundly, but he missed out on significant gains. For example, Berkshire’s Goldman stake was worth $2.8 billion at the end of 2019; it would have fetched $4.3 billion today. JPMorgan, PNC, and Synchrony are also trading at record levels, while Wells Fargo and M&T have rallied to 15-month highs.
Moreover, Buffett didn’t sell the banks and buy something better instead. He has struggled to find compelling uses for Berkshire’s cash reserves, which exceeded $140 billion at the last count. His company sold about $13 billion of stock on a net basis over the past five quarters, and only spent about $4 billion on acquisitions. In fact, Berkshire’s biggest splurge in 2020 was spending $25 billion repurchasing its own stock.
Buffett risks missing out on further gains too. Bank stocks stand to benefit from the US economy reopening, higher interest rates, a booming stock market, and regulators approving bigger dividends and buybacks in the coming months.
In short, Buffett sold his bank stocks well below their current prices, won’t benefit from any further gains they make in the coming months, and has been earning a meager return on the sale proceeds. His saving grace is Bank of America – Berkshire’s 1 billion shares in the lender have surged in value by 18% since the start of last year to $42 billion today.
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway disclosed a new bet on Aon in a portfolio update on Monday. It also revealed that it took a knife to several positions and virtually eliminated its Wells Fargo stake last quarter.
The famed investor’s company bought 4.1 million shares of Aon, a British health insurer and pensions administrator, in the three months to March 31. It also boosted its Verizon stake by about 8% to 159 million shares – worth over $9 billion at the end of the period. Moreover, it ramped up its Kroger bet by over 50% to north of 50 million shares.
Buffett and his team trimmed several positions, which was expected given Berkshire’s recent earnings showed that it sold $3.9 billion of stock on a net basis last quarter. They slashed their Chevron stake, despite only establishing it last year, by just over half to 24 million shares worth $2.5 billion. They also reduced their pharmaceutical bets – AbbVie, Bristol Myers-Squibb, and Merck – as well as Liberty Global, Axalta, and StoneCo.
Notably, Berkshire cut its Wells Fargo stake from more than 50 million shares to fewer than 700,000. The bank had been one of Buffett’s biggest positions until last year.
The lack of purchases last quarter chimes with Buffett’s comments at Berkshire’s recent shareholder meeting. The investor said he was looking to invest about $80 billion of Berkshire’s roughly $140 billion cash hoard in stocks and businesses, but admitted he was struggling to find bargains in the current market.
Buffett cited the Federal Reserve’s continued efforts to pump liquidity into markets, which has boosted asset prices and fueled competition for acquisitions, as a key factor.
Companies including Toyota, JetBlue, and Cigna are still donating thousands of dollars to the lawmakers who voted against Joe Biden’s certification as president.
After a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 to try and prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s win, many top US companies scrambled to cut ties with the 147 GOP lawmakers who voted against the results.
A further group of companies said they would review their contribution policies or would take the January 6 events into account when awarding funding.
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, founder of Yale’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute, told Axios in March the companies that halted political donations are unlikely to lift this ban any time soon. However, recent Federal Election Commission filings show that some companies are still giving to these lawmakers.
Color of Change, which says it is America’s largest racial justice organization and has more than 7 million members, is urging these companies to halt the donations.
Jade Ogunnaike, senior campaign director at Color of Change, told Insider that Trump’s presidency “undermined faith in our democracy.”
She said lawmakers including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, who voted against Biden’s certification, “would have been very happy to do anything possible that they could to ensure that Trump remained in the office.”
“You can’t forget that these are not congresspeople that we can trust,” Ogunnaike added.
“It’s incredibly important that corporations understand that and refuse to back people who were supporting violence in the transfer of power,” she said.
The vast majority of corporations who pledged to stop funding these GOP lawmakers have stayed true to their word – but some companies who made vaguer promises about assessing PAC criteria have restarted donations, while others gave money instead to various Republican committees that, in turn, fund these lawmakers.
Here are the companies that have still been funding these 147 objectors, according to Federal Election Commission data up to March 31.
Toyota’s corporate PAC has given to 40 of the lawmakers who voted against Biden’s certification, Popular Information reported, with the donations totalling $62,000. This includes $5,000 to Michigan Rep. Jack Bergman and $3,500 to Arizona Rep. David Schweikert.
The automaker had previously told Automotive News it was assessing its PAC criteria following the Capitol siege.
“Toyota supports candidates based on their position on issues that are important to the auto industry and the company,” a Toyota spokesperson told Insider.
“We do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification,” the spokesperson said. “Based on our thorough review, we decided against giving to some members who, through their statements and actions, undermine the legitimacy of our elections and institutions.”
Health insurer Cigna said in January it would pause contributions to lawmakers “who encouraged or supported violence, or otherwise hindered a peaceful transition of power,” but added that this group doesn’t necessarily include all 147 GOP objectors.
The company gave money to at least six of the lawmakers who voted against Biden’s certification, Forbes reported. This included $1,000 to Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, $1,500 to South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice, and $2,500 to Pennsylvania Rep. John Joyce.
“In January, we disqualified certain elected officials from CignaPAC support based on alignment with our company values,” Cigna told Insider in a statement.
“Our new standard applies to those who incited violence or actively sought to obstruct the peaceful transition of power through words and other efforts. Congressional votes are, by definition, part of the peaceful transition of power outlined by law, and therefore, we believe are not the appropriate indicator for the application of our policy.”
Cigna added that its PAC remains nonpartisan and “focused on the common concerns of the employees who fund it.”
Popular Information reported that Koch Industries gave a total of $17,500 to six lawmakers who voted against Biden’s certification, including North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson and Kansas Rep. Ron Estes.
This came after the Koch political network, which is also controlled by billionaire businessman Charles Koch, told Politico that “lawmakers’ actions leading up to and during last week’s insurrection will weigh heavyin our evaluation of future support.”
The chemical-manufacturing company did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
During this time period, it was the third-biggest PAC donor to the lawmakers who later voted against Biden’s certification, giving $1.27 million to these lawmakers out of the total $13.7 million it spent on political contributions, data from political-transparency site Open Secrets shows.
The New York Times reported that in the first quarter of 2021 the National Association of Realtors gave to multiple objectors, including $1,000 each Alabama Rep. Robert Aderholt and California Rep. Ken Calvert.
The association, which told Insider that it had 1.4 million members, said it put a temporary pause on all federal political disbursements in place after the siege, but had lifted it.
“This decision will ensure we continue to engage with political candidates in an effort to support America’s homeowners and our nation’s real estate industry,” it said, adding that its PAC was bipartisan.
JetBlue told Insider that it temporarily paused its donations to get feedback from PAC contributors. Since then, its PAC has donated $1,000 to New York Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who voted against Biden’s certification.
“We take a bipartisan approach, supporting both Republicans and Democrats,” a spokesperson for JetBlue said, adding that its PAC had donated to two further Republican candidates and four Democratic ones since resuming contributions, none of whom had voted to challenge the election results.
“By having relationships with candidates on both sides of the aisle, we can also maintain a voice in the room on issues that are important to our crewmembers,” the spokesperson said. “We’ll continue to have an open dialogue with PAC contributors to understand how and where their contributions should be directed.”
Jones Walker, one of the US’ largest law firms, donated $1,000 to Illinois Rep. Mike Bost, Popular Information first reported.
The New Orleans-based company didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Cubic Corporation, LKQ Corporation, and the Sierra Nevada Corporation
Forbes also reported that defense contractor Cubic Corporation gave to at least eight lawmakers who refused to certify, auto-parts distributor LKQ Corporation to at least eight, and aerospace company Sierra Nevada Corporation to least seven.
Cubic declined to comment, while LKQ Corporation and the Sierra Nevada Corporation did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Some PACs, meanwhile, haven’t given directly to the 147 objectors — but are members of trade associations that themselves gave to these lawmakers, Popular Information said.
The American Financial Services Association, for example, counts General Motors and Wells Fargo among its members. Both said they would pause all political donations, and have kept true to their word — but AFSA donated $1,000 to South Carolina Rep. William Timmons in February, FEC filings show. ASFA’s PAC donates heavily in favor of Republicans, data from Open Secrets shows.
Another way corporate PACs have been indirectly funding the lawmakers who voted against Biden’s certification is through donations to committees such as the National Republican Senatorial Committee (RNSC).
Popular Information reported that Pfizer donated $15,000 to the NRSC in February, which is run by Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who objected to the election results. These funds will also benefit the seven other GOP senators who voted against Biden’s certification, the publication reported.
Cigna also donated $15,000 to the NRSC, alongside a further $15,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).
Intel also gave $15,000 to the NRCC after it had said it would stop donations to the 147 objectors.
The tech company told Insider that its policy of halting direct contributions to members of Congress who voted against certificating the Electoral College results still applied.
It said that it divides its political contributions evenly among Republicans and Democrats, including individual candidates, campaign committees, and governors associations, and added that it continuously evaluates its contributions.
Communications giant AT&T had also said in January that it would halt contributions to the lawmakers who voted against Biden’s certification, but it donated $5,000 to the House Conservatives Fund in February, which fundraises for the Republican Study Committee, itself made up mainly of GOP objectors.
AT&T told Popular Information that the House Conservative Fund had “assured” them that none of this money would go to support the re-election of the 147 objectors.
Insider has contacted Pfizer and AT&T for comment.
Color of Change wants these companies to address their political contributions
“At Color of Change we’re not supporting a boycott [of these companies] necessarily,” Ogunnaike told Insider. Instead, the organization is asking people to design a petition asking that these companies stop funding these lawmakers.
She added she also recommended that customers contact these companies and share their point of view.
“What we see is that corporations are very, very reactive to the concerns of consumers,” she said. “We’ve seen corporations change their minds on an important issue within moments because consumers reached.”
Warren Buffett is winning big from the flight to value stocks ahead of the global economy reopening this summer. The famed investor’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate has notched an astounding $17 billion in gains across only five stocks this year.
Buffett’s company is up $9 billion on Bank of America alone. The banking group’s stock price has surged 30% since the start of January, boosting the value of Berkshire’s enlarged stake from $30 billion to $39 billion.
Moreover, Berkshire has scored a $3.7 billion gain on American Express, as the financial-services group’s stock has jumped 30% this year. It has also made $1.5 billion on Kraft Heinz, $1.4 billion on General Motors, and $1.3 billion on US Bancorp in under three months.
Buffett’s bets on five Japanese trading houses last fall are delivering too. Itochu, Mitsui, Marubeni, Mitsubishi, and Sumitomo shares have gained an average of 26% this year, lifting the combined value of Berkshire’s holdings by $1.6 billion.
Other Berkshire investments are outperforming as well. Chevron, Suncor Energy, and Synchrony Financial have all climbed more than 20% this year, while Wells Fargo – previously one of Berkshire’s biggest holdings – has rallied 37%. Meanwhile, the benchmark S&P 500 index is up 5.8% this year.
However, Berkshire’s gains have been partly offset by the recent exodus from tech stocks. Apple – which makes up more than 40% of Buffett’s US stock portfolio – has slumped 7% this year. The decline has wiped close to $8 billion off the value of Berkshire’s stake.
Berkshire has also taken a hit from Coca-Cola, leaving its shares worth about $900 million less today than at the start of January. The company’s also down about $400 million on both Snowflake and Verizon.
Buffett’s signature approach of sniffing out high-quality, undervalued businesses and investing for the long term is finally paying off. Yet if growth stocks do take off again, his Apple wager will likely flourish. It appears Buffett’s found a way to have his cake and eat it too.
Borrowing costs quickly picked up pace Thursday as the benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield surged to a fresh 14- month high, with the move pressuring tech stocks but bolstering bank shares.
The 10-year yield climbed to an intraday high of 1.754%, a leap of nine basis points since ending at 1.64% on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the 30-year yield on Thursday rose to 2.5% for the first time since August 2019. That yield on Wednesday settled at 2.437%.
Investors keep a close watch on long-dated yields as they are tied to a range of lending programs such as mortgages and auto loans. Yields have been rising, while bonds sell off, as investors continue to price in expectations of higher inflation as the US economy recovers from the COVID-19 crisis.
But the increase in borrowing costs has stoked selling in growth stocks, including large-cap tech stocks that have run up over the past year. Thursday’s moves included Apple falling by 2.3%, Google’s parent company Alphabet down by 1.1%, and Microsoft losing 1.7%. The Nasdaq Composite, home to numerous tech stocks, lost 1.4%, and the S&P 500‘s information technology sector slumped 1.5%.
The 10-year yield on Wednesday reached its highest since January 2020 as investors positioned themselves before the Federal Reserve released its policy decision and economic projections. The central bank’s upgraded economic outlook included its view that gross domestic product will expand by 6.5% this year, up from the prior estimate of 4.2%. The 10-year yield pulled back from the 1.6% area during Wednesday’s session before roaring higher again on Thursday.
“Right now the market is pricing in a rate hike in the latter half of 2022, which we think is very early and, in fact, it’s nearly mathematically impossible for the Fed to hike in 2022 if they truly intend to look past transitory inflation,” Calvin Norris, US rates strategist at Aegon Asset Management, told Insider on Thursday. “What the market is implying is the Fed is going to cave on this persistency-of-inflation idea.”
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday reiterated the central bank’s stance of allowing inflation to rise past 2% to support growth in the labor market and the economy before it starts raising interest rates.
While tech stocks sold off, bank stocks charged up, with Bank of America gaining 4.1%. Banks aim to lend money on long-term rates and the increase in long-dated yields improves their prospects for growth in interest income. Wells Fargo climbed 3.8% and JPMorgan Chase popped up 3.5%.
“While it’s difficult to say when this might occur but we’re kind of setting the stage for some type of counter-trend rally here in Treasuries,” said Norris. “Treasuries are oversold, sentiment is extremely bearish, Treasuries are very cheap to foreign buyers,” he said.
“I think the market is trying to challenge the Fed. But if you do believe the Fed and the projections for growth and inflation, valuations look very attractive at these levels. Not to say that they can’t get cheaper and be more attractive but we’re at those levels that I think it’s difficult to add to short positions in here,” Norris added.
“We know the importance of the stimulus funds to our customers, and we are providing the payments to our customers as soon as possible on the date the funds are available – based on IRS direction,” it said.
“Wells Fargo is not holding the funds.”
The IRS also noted that the checks will not arrive to all people at once.
Some of the payments could take weeks, especially for people receiving the money in physical form, either via paper checks or debit cards int he mail.
Many Americans are seeing $1,400 stimulus checks hit their bank accounts this weekend under President Joe Biden’s stimulus law. But people may not be able to immediately tap into it – at least, not until St. Patrick’s Day at the earliest.
The direct payments, which the IRS labeled as “Economic Impact Payments,” are set to be paid out on March 17, per the agency.
“As with the first two Economic Impact Payments in 2020, most Americans will receive their money without having to take any action,” the IRS said on its website. “Some Americans may see the direct deposit payments as pending or as provisional payments in their accounts before the official payment date of March 17.”
That means it could take several more days for the relief checks to clear at major banks like Wells Fargo. Others such as Chase said on their website it expected to release the payouts March 17 and after.
“Wells Fargo will process all of the direct deposits according to the effective date provided by the U.S. Treasury,” the bank said in numerous follow-up tweets to customers frustrated with the delay.
Some digital banks, like Chime, however, said they authorized clients to instantly access their federal cash. On Friday, they issued a “stimmy alert” on Twitter saying the service had already distributed $600 million.
Chime did not immediately respond to a request for comment on their decision.
The IRS also said Friday that people can begin tracking the status of their checks using the “Get my Payment” portal on Monday. The agency also said it expects to issue more direct deposits and send payments as a check or debit card over the coming weeks.
Singles earning up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income qualify for the full amount, along with couples making up to $150,000. Each adult dependent is eligible for a check as well.
However, the stimulus payments phase out much quicker. Individuals earning above $80,000 and couples making above $160,000 will not receive anything.
Lisa McGeough leads all of Wells Fargo’s international banking operations.
She said calling out microaggressions is crucial to creating an inclusive workplace culture.
Leaders must get comfortable having uncomfortable conversations around bias, she said.
This article is part of a series called “Leaders by Day,” which takes a look at how prominent business leaders are tackling various challenges in today’s economy.
Lisa McGeough leads Wells Fargo’s international banking operations, which encompasses all the firm’s businesses across the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
In other words, she’s one of the most important people at the bank, and one of a select few women who’ve broken the finance world’s glass ceiling, or the set of barriers that hold women back from the industry’s top positions.
According to Deloitte research from 2019, women hold only 22% of leadership roles in finance. While the number of women in leadership roles is expected to grow to 32% by 2030, that’s still well below parity.
Microaggressions, or subtle forms of discrimination and prejudice, are a major reason why more women and others from underrepresented backgrounds aren’t able to climb the corporate ladder, McGeough said.
Calling out microaggressions is one important part of creating an inclusive environment where everyone can succeed, she said.
“We must address all aspects of diversity in both our recruiting and managing strategies, asking difficult questions about where we don’t measure up and why?” she said.
McGeough knows from experience just how microaggressions can turn a workplace toxic. She shared her suggestions for any leader to address microaggressions in the workplace.
Learning from her own experience
Since starting at her first banking job in 1984, McGeough has experienced many subtle forms of bias.
Male colleagues would say things like “You’re so good at note-taking” or “I didn’t know you were interested in golf.”
She even had one manager who insisted she go home to take care of her kids instead of offering her the opportunity to cover clients who required extensive travel. This was despite her insistence she was the family’s breadwinner.
“If microaggressions are left unchecked or are not addressed in real time, they can create an exceptionally negative workplace environment and culture,” she said.
Today, as a leader, she uses her past experience to inform how she oversees her direct reports. She has a zero-tolerance policy for microaggressions, and will call them out.
How to call out microaggressions
In the wake of the racial reckoning happening in the US after the murder of George Floyd, fighting prejudice in the workplace is no longer an option. Employees, customers, and investors are demanding more diverse and inclusive companies.
In addition to the moral imperative, it’s also crucial for business. Microaggressions alienate employees, increase stress, and lead to a decrease in productivity, McGeough said.
A study based on over 11 million survey comments by Peakon, an employee engagement platform, revealed that a poor office environment is one of the top three reasons why people quit their jobs.
The first step, Sheena Howard, associate professor of communication for the online Masters of Business Communication program at Rider University, previously told Insider, is to remain calm. Then, address the comment in a direct and composed manner.
McGeough said managers shouldn’t be afraid to say things like “She was talking,” “Don’t interrupt them,” “What did you mean by that?” “Let her finish,” and “Don’t talk over them.”
“It’s essential that leaders and managers prioritize building diverse and inclusive teams,” she said.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently told Insider that the key to creating a more inclusive environment is not being afraid to have uncomfortable conversations. McGeough agreed.
“Leaders must challenge this behavior by addressing it directly,” she said.
When Lisa McGeough first walked onto the fixed income trading floor at Salomon Brothers (which was later acquired by Citi) in 1984, she was one of about 12 women in her class. There were more than some 65 men.
McGeough, then 21, quickly learned she was in a man’s world. And the odds were not in her favor.
Over the years, she’d experience numerous microaggressions from her male colleagues.
“Girls can’t trade.”
“You’re so good at note-taking.”
“I didn’t know you were interested in golf.”
But she refused to let them get to her. Today, McGeough holds one of the highest positions in finance. She leads Wells Fargo’s international banking operations, which encompasses all the businesses across the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
“It was a tough place, the trading floor,” McGeough told Insider. “But that’s where I developed my resilience because I was not able to change the culture. I had to adapt to the culture, and survive the culture, and then thrive within the culture.”
There’s been progress toward gender equality since the 1980s. Social norms have changed. The recent #MeToo movement has forced leaders to take a hard look at sexual harassment and the lack of women in leadership within their own walls.
The Civil Rights Act of 1991, for example, gave people suing for workplace discrimination more rights and forced employers to take claims more seriously.
Yet, at the same time, many things have remained the same. Executive positions are still mostly occupied by white men. Out of all the CEOs on the Fortune 500 list, only about 37 are women. There are only 6 black CEOs.
There’s still a glass ceiling, a set of barriers women face when trying to climb the corporate ladder and make it into the C-suite. According to Deloitte research from 2019, women hold only 22% of leadership roles in finance. While it’s expected to grow, to 32% by 2030, that’s still well below parity.
Approximately 48% of senior leaders at Wells Fargo are women, according to company data provided to Insider. Some 25% are racially or ethnically diverse and 9% are Black.
Industry leaders like Salesforce and Amazon still wrestle with workplace discrimination, according to reports. And businesses across a range of industries show disappointing diversity numbers when it comes to their executive leadership.
This is despite women holding 50% of entry-level positions, according to 2019 research from McKinsey and LeanIn.
McGeough cracked the ceiling, though. For International Women’s Day, she reflected on how she did it.
Learning the value of hard work
McGeough said she’ll never forget visiting her immigrant grandparents. Her grandmother, who emigrated from Italy, worked two jobs – one at a men’s tailor shop and another at a local garden. She’d come home, pick food from the family’s garden in their backyard, cook dinner, and then would routinely stay up until nearly 3 a.m. sewing clothes for the family.
McGeough’s parents, who owned an IT company in Chicago, encouraged her and her three younger siblings to work hard in school and in life.
“It’s been in my psyche for my whole life, watching them as role models and how hard they worked,” she said. “Hard work, focused dedication, and resilience are the things that I got from them.”
McGeough attended Bowdoin College in Maine, graduating with a degree in economics. Shortly after, she began a three-year career at Salomon Brothers.
She worked hard to make it in the cut-throat world of finance, facing constant microaggressions and bosses who didn’t believe in her abilities.
But she stayed determined.
“No, one’s going to knock me out,” she’d tell herself. “No, one’s going to win. I am going to be the one that’s going to. I’m going to survive and I’m going to thrive.”
Hard work alone, however, didn’t make her an executive, she said.
“There is no fairy godmother. There’s no person who’s going to just notice you and pull you into a high level role,” she said.
Be the CEO of your career
Women and other professionals from underrepresented groups have to be more active about how they plan their career growth, she told Insider.
Her philosophy boils down to a simple catchphrase: “Be the CEO of your career.”
In other words, take charge of your career, as a CEO would take charge of their company. Actively advocate for yourself.
For example, do not assume your manager or your manager’s manager will notice your hard work, she said. Keep track of your progress, she said, and bring it up in meetings, especially when it comes time to performance reviews.
Make sure your career has a “board of directors,” or a group of people who can help you along the way and advocate for you.
“It’s not just your boss. It’s your clients, a lateral manager, mentors or sponsors,” she said.
They can advocate for you when you’re not in the rooms where decisions are being made.
By having a board of directors, McGeough said she was recommended for roles that other women were passed up for.
Know when to move and look for new opportunities
Women have to know when to leave a job where they can no longer grow.
For McGeough, that happened when she had a manager who insisted she go home to take care of her kids instead of offering her the opportunity to cover clients who required extensive travel. This was despite her insistence she was the family’s breadwinner.
After that experience she knew she had to get out.
Career progress often isn’t a straight path, but rather a series of lateral moves, she said. Some of those moves happened when she saw an opportunity, raised the issue with leadership, and pitched herself for the role.
“I raised my hand to do something very hard that no one else was doing. And there was a very large gap in this particular role that I observed,” she said. “Take risks, be uncomfortable.”
Now, as a leader, she actively advocates for up-and-coming talent, especially women and those from underrepresented backgrounds.
“How do I advocate for this talented woman or diverse person on my team to give them the visibility that they need? Because I’ve experienced what they’re experiencing now. How do I create a diverse leadership team?”
Those are questions she says more leaders should be thinking about, she said.