How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

Women execs climb in the big bank shuffle

March 7, 2014: 2:15 PM ET

A shakeup at Citigroup leaves two women with bigger jobs -- and one prominent departure.

Citigroup's Jane Fraser is the new boss of the giant consumer and commercial banking unit, plus global mortgages.

Citigroup's Jane Fraser is the new boss of the giant consumer and commercial banking unit, plus global mortgages.

FORTUNE -- In what has long been a minefield for senior women -- the big banks -- three female executives burnished their power this week.

In a senior management shuffle at Citigroup (C), CEO Mike Corbat told employees yesterday that Jane Fraser is the new CEO of U.S. Consumer & Commercial Banking. This is a huge job that encompasses retail/small business/commercial banking and wealth management, plus Citi's mortgage business globally.

Fraser is certainly one of Citi's executives to watch. A native of Edinburgh, Scotland, she arrived at Citi 10 years ago with a successful decade at McKinsey on her resume, a Harvard MBA, and a degree in economics from Cambridge. She headed strategy and M&A for Citi and then the Private Bank, which she grew. Viewed as a straight-talking, strategic problem-solver, Fraser, at 46, has plenty of runway to advance further.

Also moving up: Barbara DeSoer, who goes from COO to CEO of Citibank N.A. This job puts her in charge of corporate governance and franchise management for Citibank branches and subsidiaries in 101 countries. DeSoer, 61, was on Fortune's Most Powerful Women list when she was at Bank of America (BAC) and considered to be a possible contender for CEO someday. But in 2012, she left BofA after taking on that bank's toughest assignment -- heading the mortgage business post-acquisition of subprime lender Countrywide Financial -- and facing criticisms of foreclosure practices. DeSoer took a year off and joined Citi last fall.

Fraser and Desoer are the only women on Citi's 24-person operating committee.

Barbara DeSoer

Citi's Barbara DeSoer

Meanwhile, U.S. Consumer and Commercial Banking president Cece Stewart, a high-profile recruit by former Citi CEO Vikram Pandit, is leaving. Her rise from bank clerk to head of retail and small business banking at Wachovia (WFC) earned her a spot on Fortune's MPW list in 2007. But after she moved to Morgan Stanley (MS) in 2009 and then Citi in 2011, her career seemed to stall. Stewart, 55, is expected to focus on her true passion, her horses in North Carolina, as well as board work.

And as Citi's rival, J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM), revealed at its investor day this week that it's making broad cuts while expanding in asset management, it's worth noting that the CEO of that unit, in charge of $1.6 trillion in assets, is Mary Callahan Erdoes, No. 31 on our global MPW list. Erdoes' star is shining bright these days.

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