The Power 100
The 100 Most Powerful People In Finance

 

Bankers fighting regulators. Hedge fund leaders taking on thought leaders. Heads of state squaring off against other heads of state. Welcome to WORTH'S annual list of the 100 most powerful people in finance.

 

Portrait illustrations by Evgeny Parfenov.
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    Path to Power: Preetinder Singh Bharara came to the U.S. with his parents from India when he was just 2. He attended Harvard and Columbia Law. After working in private practice, Bharara became an assistant U.S. district attorney under DA Mary Jo White, then served as legal counsel for New York senator Chuck Schumer. Bharara was nominated to his current position by President Obama in May 2009.

    Power Play: Bharara's investigations of insider trading at the hedge funds Galleon and SAC Capital resulted in multiple convictions and a shaken industry. He has helped win billions of dollars in settlements from banks such as Deutsche Bank, Citigroup and Bank of America. Bharara’s record isn’t perfect—critics point out that he’s been unable to prosecute, much less convict, any individual connected to the precrisis mortgage frauds. But without question, Bharara has effectively and skill- fully wielded the power of his office to address widespread financial crime. After five years in office, has he succeeded in changing the culture of Wall Street over the long term? The jury’s still out. But it’s hard to think of anyone who has tried harder or done more to save the financial industry from its own worst instincts.

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    Path to Power: Gorman, a native of Australia, worked there as a lawyer before moving to New York to earn a Columbia MBA. He spent a decade at McKinsey before transitioning to Wall Street in 1999 as CMO at Merrill Lynch. In 2006, he joined Morgan Stanley; starting in 2009, he led the successful merger of Morgan Stanley and Smith Barney’s wealth management businesses. Gorman became CEO in 2010 and chairman in 2012.

    Power Play: Post-crisis, Gorman has transformed Morgan Stanley to be less dependent on volatile trading revenues. Instead, he has beefed up Morgan Stanley’s wealth management arm, which now accounts for nearly half the bank’s total revenues, and its underwriting business, making Morgan Stanley the “most sought-after underwriter of tech IPOs,” according to the New York Times. Morgan Stanley has largely avoided the costly legal troubles affect- ing its peers and achieved a second-quarter profit increase of 131 percent while Citigroup, JPMorgan and BofA all posted losses.

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    Path to Power: Several years after getting his law degree from Harvard in 1978, Blankfein applied to Goldman but was turned down. He traded commodities for J. Aron & Co., which—fortunately for Blankfein—was bought by Goldman. After rising through the ranks, Blankfein became chairman and CEO in 2006.

    Power Play: As investigations of high-speed trading practices sweep the industry, Goldman, under Blankfein’s direction, has become one of the largest brokers on IEX, a transparent trading platform. Blankfein can take credit for a 5 percent profit growth in this year’s second quarter after sharp declines in the preceding two quarters, while basking in recent positive press about Goldman’s philanthropic efforts. At least in terms of public perception, the erstwhile “great vampire squid” appears to have been defanged.

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    Path to Power: Dimon had an early mentor in former Citi-group CEO Sandy Weill, who saw potential in the Tufts and HBS graduate. Dimon was CEO of First Chicago, then Bank One, and when JPMorgan Chase bought Bank One in 2004, Dimon ascended to top executive positions in the combined company. He became CEO in 2005.

    Power Play: It’s been a rough stretch for Dimon, who for a moment a couple years back was regaled as Wall Street’s wisest man. But in 2013 his bank paid $23 billion in legal costs stemming from mortgage-fraud litigation, and this year it has coughed up at least $2.6 billion in Bernie Madoff-related settlements. Bank profits were down in the first half of the year, and in July Dimon revealed that he is fighting throat cancer.

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    Path to Power: The man who emerged as a takeover king in the 1980s grew up middle class in Queens. He earned a BA in philosophy from Princeton in 1957, then became a stockbroker and founded Icahn & Co., a securities firm, in 1968. Icahn Enterprises, a holding company, was established in 1987.

    Power Play: At 78, Icahn is still one of Wall Street’s most high-profile corporate activists. The venerable—and irascible—investor’s most recent target is the board of Family Dollar, which he argues is not merging with Dollar General quickly enough. Icahn has been particularly critical of Family Dollar CEO Howard Levine, saying that “he doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

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    Path to Power: The Harvard College and Stanford Law graduate started his career at the DOJ as a special assistant to the deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration. After serving as Senator Barack Obama’s finance chairman in California, West would return to Justice in 2009 as head of the civil division; in July 2013, the Senate confirmed him as associate attorney general.

    Power Play: West has served as Eric Holder’s negotiator in DOJ’s recent mortgage fraud settlements. He’s secured $13 billion from JP Morgan, $7 billion from Citigroup and a record $16.5 billion from Bank of America—after rejecting the bank’s original offers of $3 billion, then $4 billion, then $14 billion.

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    Path to Power: An economics PhD from Harvard, Brainard served as economic advisor to President Clinton and undersecretary of the Treasury for international affairs for President Obama. She was nominated to the Fed board in January.

    Power Play: Brainard earned the tag “the country’s top financial diplomat” by playing a key role in negotiations over China’s economic policies and the European sovereign debt woes. At the Fed, she works well with chair Janet Yellen and is considered a low-profile, politically savvy Washington player.

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    Path to Power: Before being appointed by Michigan governor Rick Snyder to over- see Detroit’s operations for 18 months—leading to his filing of the city’s $18 billion bankruptcy—Orr was a partner at Jones Day in Washington, D.C., where he represented Chrysler in its bankruptcy.

    Power Play: Orr has received the approval, if reluctant, of Detroit city workers and unions for a hybrid pension plan to which employees will contribute a percentage of their salary and receive reduced benefits. The change will save Detroit at least $30 million a year and could become a model adopted by other troubled municipalities—a big success as Orr prepared to leave his post in September.

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    Path to Power: Despite his mother’s dream that he become a dentist, Rubenstein practiced law in New York and Washington, D.C., where he served as domestic policy advisor to President Carter. He launched private equity firm the Carlyle Group in 1987.

    Power Play: Known for his globetrotting, Rubenstein is bullish on Africa. His firm launched a $700 million sub-Saharan African fund earlier this year, and at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington in August, Rubenstein announced that “the great explosion in private equity...is probably going to be in Africa.”

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    Path to Power: Born in Queens, Asness went to Penn undergrad and earned an MBA and PhD from the University of Chicago before becoming head of the quant group at Goldman Sachs. He founded AQR in 1998.

    Power Play: AQR is not a high-frequency trading firm, but Asness was quick to speak out in favor of HFT after the publication of Michael Lewis’ Flash Boys. Asness wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Lewis was bombarding the world with “arcane details and hyperbolic assertions about HFT strategies.”

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    Path to Power: After joining HSBC in 1980, Gulliver, an Oxford-educated Brit, rose through the ranks via the bank’s global division before taking over its investment banking division in 2006. He was named CEO in 2011.

    Power Play: Gulliver is aggressively downsizing at HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank, and focusing on gaining market share in high-growth markets. He has sold more than 63 HSBC businesses over the past three years and closed operations in Japan, Russia, Latin America and Libya.

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    Path to Power: Bhattacharya started working at the State Bank of India in 1977. Before taking over as chair in 2013, Bhattacharya held roles in all its divisions.

    Power Play: Bhattacharya is the first woman to be chair of the State Bank of India, the nation’s largest lender with $380 billion in assets. She is the driving force behind major reforms in Indian agriculture, industry and finance, as well as a two-year employee sabbatical policy for women with child or elder care responsibilities.

 

Curator

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