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: A native of Kansas City, Mo., White graduated first in her class from Columbia Law in 1974 and would become the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. For most of the past decade, she's advocated for bank clients as head of litigation at Debevoise & Plimpton. In January, President Obama picked White to head the SEC.

    Power Play: White has vigorously pushed investigations, enforcement actions and prosecutions against financial sinners; in just six months she has brought charges against more than 40 companies, municipalities and individuals. She has also sought admissions of wrongdoing, a break from the flimsy SEC policy of allowing defendants to "neither admit or deny" alleged crimes. In August, White forced an admission of market manipulation from hedge funder Philip Falcone; she is pressing for similar accountability from JPMorgan in connection with its $6 billion London whale trading loss. This is no longer the spineless, clueless SEC that missed signs of the financial crisis and Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme. White's era promises to not only curb white-collar crime but also to impose a new era in finance, one in which rules matter and rule breakers face consequences more painful than just writing a check.

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    Path to Power: The son of a Methodist-minister father and teacher-mother, Orr grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and earned his bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Michigan. Joining Jones Day in Washington in 2000, Orr made partner with a specialty in bankruptcy law; in 2009 he won plaudits for his representation of Chrysler when that automaker declared bankruptcy. In March Michigan governor Rick Snyder named Orr emergency manager for financially beleaguered Detroit, granting him wide powers to cancel or change city contracts and sell off city assets.

    Power Play: In mid-July, having failed to persuade Detroit's creditors to accept pennies on the dollar for the amounts owed to them, Orr filed for bankruptcy for Detroit in federal bankruptcy court. The move angered city workers and unions, who feared that it would lead to cuts in their pay and pension benefits—which it probably will; Orr argues that Detroit's pension funds are underfunded by at least $3.5 billion. At stake is not just the economic future of Detroit, but potential outcomes for fiscally challenged municipalities across the country.

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    Path to Power: The son of a rancher and his wife, Perry grew up in West Texas and attended Texas A&M, graduating in 1972 with a BS in animal science. After time in the Air Force and farming cotton with his father, Perry won election to the Texas House (as a Democrat) in 1984. Later switching parties, he beat populist agriculture commissioner Jim Hightower in a race for that job in 1990. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1998, became governor in 2000 after George W. Bush resigned and has since won elections in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

    Power Play: Texas may be the most business-friendly state in the nation, and Perry is a big reason why: He passionately advocates for low personal and business taxes, and just as passionately opposes regulatory and environmental rules. In recent months Perry has been traveling to states such as California, Illinois and New York, urging companies there to relocate to Texas. Perry's move-to-Texas campaign has fared better than his 2012 presidential campaign, and since 2011, Google, GM, State Farm Apple and Visa, among others, have all opened new offices in Texas. Perry has announced that he won't run for reelection in 2014, but many political observers think he's likely to run for president again in 2016.

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    Path to Power: A Long Island native, Cohen is the son of a dress manufacturer (his father) and a piano teacher. He studied economics at UPenn's Wharton School, then took a job trading at Gruntal & Co. in 1978. He founded SAC in 1992 and built it into one of the world's largest hedge funds—making himself one of the world's richest men.

    Power Play: For almost a decade the Feds—mainly, the SEC, FBI and U.S. district attorney for New York Preet Bharara—have been investigating the possibility of insider trading at SEC. But though at least eight SAC current or former employees have been convicted of or charged with insider trading, Cohen seem to be dodging the bullet—until July, when Bharara filed criminal charges against SAC, alleging systematic insider trading "on a scale without known precedent in the hedge fund industry." As outside investors have rushed to pull their money, Cohen has fought back hard, circulating a 46-page white paper rebutting charges that he failed to supervise law-breaking employees. Cohen's defense strategies will be watched with self-serving interest by Wall Street's legal and compliance departments.

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    Path to Power: Kuroda has spent his career as bureaucrat at institutions such as the IMF, the Japanese Finance Ministry and, most recently, the Asian Development Bank. But he is better known for his blunt fiscal talk—including his 2005 book, Success and Failure in Fiscal and Monetary Policy—than for his diplomacy.

    Power Play: In February, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe picked Kuroda to lead the very institution he has most criticized—the Bank of Japan. With his new title and a promise to turn around two decades of deflation, Kuroda doubled Japan's money supply in April. The tactic, Kuroda argues, will help Japan achieve its goal of 2 percent inflation in two years and flood global markets with upwards of $2 trillion in cash. Economists have hailed the move as perhaps the boldest step ever taken by a central bank.

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    Path to Power: Benmosche was an EVP at PaineWebber from 1989 to 1995, then held a series of executive positions with MetLife, ultimately becoming chairman and CEO from 1998 to 2006. The colorful insurance leader retired to his palatial estate and vineyard in Croatia before being lured our of retirement in 2009 to save AIG after the financial crisis and government bailout.

    Power Play: Last December the government sold the last of its stake in AIG—once as much as 92 percent of the company's shares, worth $182 billion. Taxpayers made almost a $23 billion profit on what many critics predicted would be a horrific loss. Benmosche has played a crucial role in AIG's resurrection, streamlining the insurance behemoth through the sales of operations such as life insurance units AIA Group and American Life Insurance. One sign of AIG's recovery: In A2 of this year it became the country's largest seller of annuities, a position it hadn't held since 2008.

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    Path to Power: Al Sayed, who holds law degrees from Qatar University and Boston University, was appointed to his new post in charge of the sovereign wealth fund of the world's richest nation at the beginning of July. Previously, he ran Qatar Holding LLC, where he oversaw many of the fund's key investments abroad, for five years; before that, he ran the QIA's legal department.

    Power Play: Now in his late thirties, Al Sayed is widely considered to be a tough negotiator and savvy dealmaker, and his appointment came only a week after Qatar's Emir stepped down, handing that role over to his own 33-year-old son. The moves are seen as signs that the country is beginning to shift most major responsibility and offices to the next generation. Al Sayed's appointment also indicates that the fund, which has estimated assets of $100 billion to $200 billion, will continue its aggressive overseas acquisition plans.

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    Path to Power: Oxford-educated Jenkins began his career at Barclays in 1983, holding a number of positions in retail and corporate banking before moving to Citigroup in 1989. He rejoined Barclays in 2006 as CEO of Barclaycard an in 2009 became CEO of Barclays' retail and business banking division. Named group CEO in August 2012, Jenkins replaced Robert Diamond Jr., who left in the wake of the Libor interest-rate-rigging scandal.

    Power Play: Jenkins is taking bold steps to counter pressure from British regulators, who say Barclays is undercapitalized to face future financial crises. In late July, he announced that Barclays will increase its capital levels by nearly $20 billion by selling new shares and convertible bonds as well as shrinking its balance sheet—among the most aggressive moves by a European bank to show financial strength and ease regulatory concerns. But Jenkins has refused to trim or eliminate Barclays' dividend even though regulators have said new rules require the bank to grow its capital by 38 percent or reduce its assets.

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    Path to Power: After graduating from Duke and the University of Chicago Law School, Rubenstein practiced law in New york and D.C. and served as a domestic policy advisor to Jimmy Carter. In 1987, he launched a small leveraged buyout firm with friends Bill Conway and Dan D'Aniello which they named the Carlyle Group. Since then, Rubenstein has helped the firm grow into the world's second largest private equity company, with more than $176 billion under management, 1,400 employees and 34 global offices.

    Power Play: Rubenstein entered the year bullish about private equity, calling 2013 "the best time for fundraising in at least the last five years." To capitalize, the Carlyle Group in march announced a drastic lowering of its minimum investment to $50,000. (Its minimum for a separate fund: $20 million.) The new entry point may peeve some past investors who preferred the firm's exclusivity, but it will allow Carlyle to tap into a much larger pool of wealth. According to Carlyle's second quarter results, the move has helped fundraising (which totaled nearly $7 billion) but has done little to plump profits—which missed analysts' estimates by a dismal 17 cents per share.

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    Path to Power: Holder started his law career in 1976 at the Justice Department. He became the first African American U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and, under Janet Reno, the first African American deputy attorney general. In 2008, Barack Obama appointed him attorney general—another first.

    Power Play: In March, Holder suggested that some banks couldn't be prosecuted because of the damage the cases might inflict on the world economy. He retracted the comment, and Holder has since launched multiple investigations of JPMorgan. In August, Holder said that new financial-crisis cases and charges would be coming. But he remains weakened by last spring's IRS scandal, which conservatives blamed on him, and by revelations that DOJ has been investigating journalists.

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    Path to Power: Lake, a dual citizen of the U.S. and UK, earned a degree in physics from the University of Reading before landing a job as an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers in London. Since joining JPMorgan in 1999, she's held positions in the corporate, investment and retail arms of the biz.

    Power Play: When Douglas Braunstein was forced to relinquish the title in November following JPMorgan's London whale debacle, Jamie Dimon appointed 43-year-old Lake his new head financial officer. She is now one of two female CFOs at a major U.S. bank (Morgan Stanley's Ruth Porat is the other).

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    Path to Power: In 1988, with a Harvard MBA in hand, Abigail Johnson joined Fidelity Investments, the company her grandfather founded, as a stock analyst. In the 25 years since, she has worked in nearly every division of the company, including serving as head of Fidelity's mutual fund unit and retirement businesses.

    Power Play: Fidelity chair Ned Johnson, 83, silenced succession whispers when he named daughter Abby president of financial services last year. One of the most powerful people in the $12 trillion fund industry, and certainly one of its most powerful women, Johnson oversees Fidelity's core businesses, including asset management, retail and institutional brokerage, and retirement and benefit services. The job comes with pressing challenges, however, as competitor Vanguard continues to claim market share; in 2010 it surpassed Fidelity as the largest mutual fund company. (Since 2008, investors have placed $274 billion in Vanguard's funds compared with just $52 billion at Fidelity.) To help close the gap, Fidelity dove into the exchange traded funds market in July when it announced 13 new ETFs.