Citizens’ Alemany, BankRI’s Sherman on U.S Banker’s most powerful women list

Ellen Alemany, Citizens Financial Group, ranked No. 13 and Merrill Sherman, Bank Rhode Island, seated at right, ranked No. 22 on U.S. Banker magazine’s 25 most powerful women in banking list.
Posted 9/29/10

NEW YORK – Citizens Financial Group’s Ellen Alemany and Bank Rhode Island’s Merrill W. Sherman are among the 25 most powerful women in banking, according to U.S. Banker magazine’s October issue.

Alemany, chairman and CEO of Citizens Financial Group and RBS Americas, ranked No. 13 on the list, while Merrill Sherman, president and CEO of Bancorp Rhode Island, came in at No. 22.

“The executives profiled in this issue are approaching their work with a renewed sense of commitment to nurture the talented women who are following them up the ladder,” said the magazine, which selected 75 women for three lists; in addition to banking, the publication highlighted 25 “women to watch” and 25 “most powerful women in finance.”

The most powerful women in banking were selected at the discretion of the editors at U.S. Banker magazine, American Banker newspaper and Bank Technology News.

The focus of the issue is to spotlight women in senior-level management positions and underline the importance of fostering women’s professional development.

U.S. Banker asked women and men to support efforts that are known to result in women advancing to senior executive positions, including acting as a “sponsor” and encouraging “real mentoring relationships.”

Foreign-based banks have a better track record at promoting women to top jobs, the magazine said, pointing out that the three largest banks in the U.S. with women as CEOs – HSBC Bank, Citizens Financial Group and Harris Bank - are all foreign-owned.

The top three women in banking were Carrie Tolstedt of Wells Fargo, Deanna Oppenheimer of Barclays Bank and Karen Peetz of BNY Mellon.

One of the important mentoring relationships in Ellen Alemany’s life was a boss that would grill her relentlessly at every meeting. “He always told me, ‘You really have to know your stuff if you want to continue progressing in your career,’ ” said Alemany, who now runs the $140 billion-asset Citizens’ Financial Group.

“You have a choice: You can either grumble about being on the receiving end of discrimination, or you can just ignore it and keep going,” said Sherman to U.S. Banker. Sherman “accidentally” went into banking after 17 years as a lawyer in Providence, co-creating Bank Rhode Island in 1996.

Kathleen Murphy of Fidelity Investments took the No. 12 spot on the “25 Most Powerful Women in Finance” list. Murphy heads the company’s personal investing unit and oversaw the launch of Fidelity Viewpoint, a financial education newsletter with more than 1 million readers. The magazine also highlighted Murphy’s mentoring work with women from foreign countries though a U.S. State Department program. “The development of people is one of the most important thing a leader does,” she said.

Dorothy Savarese, president and CEO of Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank, was noted as one of the “25 Women to Watch,” moving up to 16th place from 24th a year earlier.

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