Citigroup has named a woman to be its new chief executive in a first for a Wall Street bank.
The firm said it had selected Jane Fraser, its current president and head of global consumer division, to become its new boss when current chief Michael Corbat retires in February.
He is stepping down after 37 years at the bank, including eight as leader.
Scotland-born Ms Fraser has worked at the bank for 16 years, serving in her current role since 2019.
She oversees business in 19 countries and previously led its Latin America division.
The chair of the bank’s board of directors, John Dugan, said Ms Fraser would “take Citi to the next level”.
“She has deep experience across our lines of business and regions and we are highly confident in her. Jane’s ability to think strategically and also operate a business are a unique combination that will serve our company well,” he said.
Born in Scotland, Ms Fraser has degrees from Harvard Business School and Cambridge University. She started her career at Goldman Sachs in London, joining Citi after rising to be a partner at consultancy McKinsey. Seen as a rising star in the banking world, she was considered during Wells Fargo’s recent search for a new leader.
Her appointment comes as the business world, and banking sector in particular, has come under pressure to diversify its ranks.
Last year, Royal Bank of Scotland named Alison Rose as its first female chief executive, making her the first woman to run any of the big four banks in the UK.
But at the end of 2019, just 31 women held the top spots at major American companies listed on the S&P 500 index.
At a congressional hearing last year, the heads of seven of America’s biggest banks, including Mr Corbat, were questioned about the lack of diversity and asked if they believed they would be succeeded by a woman or person of colour. None said yes.
Ms Fraser, who was promoted a few months later, has said she moved to the US because of the opportunities she saw for women. But in a 2018 interview with broadcaster CNN she denied aspiring to the top spot.
“I look forward to seeing a woman being the first CEO of a Wall Street firm whoever that may be,” she said. “I’ve never had the ambition to be the CEO of Citi or any other organization. Things can change over time. But at the moment, I’ve still got a lot to learn.”
Since starting at Citi in 2004, Ms Fraser has frequently been charged with turning around troubled parts of the bank, the fourth largest in the US. She worked in its mortgage division following the financial crisis and was put in charge in Latin America after a scandal in its bank in Mexico.
Ms Fraser has said being a good leader means setting a vision, having the courage to make “tough calls”, and asking questions.