Women in Banking

The word “banker” has almost always been synonymous with men. Traditionally, the world of finance, lending, investments and securities has been like an elite men’s club where women weren’t allowed, except in service roles like those of secretaries and tellers. But these days women are not only joining the ranks of professionals in this mostly male-dominated career field, they’re also becoming known as highly successful leaders. Meet four smart, hard-working women who have worked their ways to the top of their field, carrying important positions in banking and finance. Although female bankers are still in the minority, their numbers are growing, and their strengths are being celebrated. So we asked these busy bankers how they came to have careers in banking and what the world of finance is like for women today.

Chris Fausto

Senior Vice President,
Private banker
Broadway Bank

Financial advisor, giving clients a full range of customized solutions in banking, lending and wealth management. Manages and develops strategic business banking initiatives, including product research and development, business planning and process improvement.

Total years in banking: 20 years

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration, University of Texas San Antonio

When Broadway Bank senior vice president Chris Fausto worked as a part-time teller while attending college, she had no idea that banking would become her career, but life has a way of working out just as it should, and Fausto couldn’t be happier in banking.

“While growing up, I always enjoyed working with numbers, and I thought that was all you needed in order to be hired at a bank. However, through the years I learned that in order to be a successful banker, you have to not only be good at numbers and pay attention to the details, but you also have to understand the client’s financial lending and depository needs. You must be creative and considerate in offering the right financial solutions for that individual customer,” says Fausto, who has seen a lot of changes in her field since she first began in the early ‘90s. “Technology and the Internet have vastly changed the way people manage their funds and experience banking services,” says Fausto. “It’ll also be interesting to see how social networking continues to transform communications and the role it will play in the internal and external banking community. Our goal at Broadway Bank is to continue to stay on top of new technology that will increase our efficiency to better serve our clients and meet their expectations.” But technology isn’t the only thing that’s changed over the years, and just as with the other bankers we interviewed, Fausto has seen the role of women in the workplace undergo dramatic transformations, too. “It’s exciting to see that the banking industry as a whole has more women represented in executive positions. When I first started in banking, there weren’t many female lending officers, division managers or executive managers. Two decades later, we find that women occupy many executive positions in every facet in banking. This is encouraging to see for the younger female generation considering a career in banking,” she says. Fausto’s advice to women interested in banking is simple: Seek mentors respected in the banking industry. “There are so many advantages in having a career mentor. They can share their experiences and insight on the types of challenges they have faced throughout the years, as well as the successes,” she says.

Even though she didn’t initially plan to be a banker, these days Fausto can’t see herself doing anything else and says her personal tendency to be ultra-organized has been a real advantage. A self-proclaimed “organization fanatic,” she stays on top of things at the office and at home: “I don’t like working in an area where there’s clutter, so I always make sure that my office files are properly labeled and filed and that my desk drawers are not a haven for ‘stuff.’ I’m also a stickler about keeping my home closets well organized by sorting items by color and season. My friends love it when I come over to make over their closets.” It’s hard to imagine how Fausto could have time to organize her friends’ closets — let alone her own — for her job keeps her busy. But she does, and the fast pace is fine with her. Somehow she still manages to make time for the things that matter most.

“I enjoy going to the gym after work. Working out helps me relieve the everyday stress and allows me to relax at the end of the day. Broadway Bank has also developed a Health Awareness program that encourages all employees to exercise, so this initiative keeps me motivated to continue exercising,” she says. Fausto also finds time to teach financial literacy courses for various nonprofit organizations as a way of giving back to the community. “I’ve taught many individuals, ranging from new homeowners to college students, how to manage their money by preparing a personal budget. Good peace of mind is knowing that you are in control of your money and your financial situation,” she says.

Although her days are busy and full, Fausto says the work is rewarding. “I enjoy the flexibility and variety that my job offers,” she says. “Each day brings a new opportunity, whether it’s assisting a client with a financial need or helping to improve efficiencies within our own organization in order to better serve our clients. I must also say that it makes a big difference to work for a local and independently owned bank.” For a college student turned teller turned bank vice president, hard work, a great employer and a positive attitude have paid off and brought this San Antonio woman great satisfaction.

Cindy Moran

Vice president, member service,
for the Central Region at
Security Service Federal Credit Union

Overseeing the management and operations of 33 service centers in San Antonio, Boerne, Pleasanton, Castroville, New Braunfels, Uvalde, Coastal Bend and the Rio Grande Valley.

Total years in banking: 35 years

San Antonio College/American Institute of Banking/Consumer Lending School

At first, Cindy Moran didn’t choose banking, she was just looking for a job that would allow her to work nights and attend school by day. It was in the mid-1970s when Moran began working at a bank. Over the next few years she held various positions there, but it was the encouragement of two mentors, Becky Huckabee and Melissa Kauth, who helped her embark on a career in banking. “They showed an interest in me, took the time to share their knowledge and demonstrated what a true leader is. Of course, I also couldn’t have done it without the help of my husband, Pat, who always encouraged and challenged me,” says Moran. “The diversity I am afforded in my position, from participating in major credit union projects to working on programs that help our employees advance in their positions and being able to participate in the numerous community-sponsored events that SSFCU supports is exciting,” says Moran. “At the credit union, our philosophy is ‘people helping people,’ and that is how we treat our members.” Over the years, Moran has seen a lot of changes in banking, especially when it comes to technology. “I have seen banking go from keeping manual ledger cards on commercial loans to times when consumers control bank accounts from their personal computers to mobile phones. The advances are truly remarkable,” she says. Early in her career, one of her biggest challenges was not having enough time to attend all her children’s activities and sports. Today, her time is spent managing priorities at work and spending time in the field with her frontline staff. “When I first started out, women held more positions on the customer service side of this business, and few women — at least in my experience — held high positions in lending, accounting or senior management. But I’ve seen that change over the years. At SSFCU, we have 70 services centers, and 51 of them are managed by women,” says Moran. “I love working with employees and providing them opportunities to grow and excel in their careers, having the ability to help our members and working with my direct staff, who really are my support team, giving so much of themselves each day to manage their respective districts,” says Moran, who works from about 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday but is always on call. “I try to keep the weekends free for family and time with my grandson, Max,” she says. She also loves golf, reading and going to concerts.

“February 2012 is a very special month for me, for not only will I mark 20 years with SSFCU, I will also celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary,” says Moran. “My husband, Pat Moran, has been practicing law in San Antonio for 31 years, and we have two children, Amanda and Michael; a son-in-law, José Bonilla; and a grandson, Max Henry Bonilla. Of course, the family is rounded out by our very special and intelligent cat, Dexter.” “The financial industry has faced many challenges (just look at the last two years), but banking is still a great career,” says Moran, who also spends time giving back: “I served on the advisory committee and as a mentor for the Academy of Finance for Business Careers High School for five years. I worked with Junior Achievement early on in my career, and I am now a member of a volunteer corps that lets me participate in community events supporting organizations such as Leukemia Lymphoma Society, the San Antonio Food Bank, St. PJ’s, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and more. I’ve also been on the board of trustees for the Children’s Shelter of San Antonio for seven years. “For over 35 years I have worked for several financial institutions and seen many changes, good and bad, in our industry,” says Moran. “However, in my career today, I can truly say I have found a place where my personal values and the values of my employer, SSFCU, are aligned. For that I am truly humbled, and I’m appreciative of the advancement opportunities they have afforded me and other women.”

Annie Uribe Turner

Vice President,
Business Banking Manager
Wells Fargo Bank

Manages team of business relationship managers in San Antonio and Boerne. Coaches, manages and motivates team to develop and maintain account relationships with business customers. Responsible for the overall success and growth of team’s multimillion-dollar and deposit portfolio.

Total years in banking: 31 years

BA in journalism from Baylor University, 1979

After Annie Uribe Turner graduated from college, she searched for a job in journalism but took a summer job as a loan teller with a small local bank in Laredo. “I immediately became fascinated with the banking industry,” she says. “Over the course of several promotions and job duty shifts, I began using the communication skills I gained as a journalism major to help me become a commercial lender. “Those skills enabled me to advocate for small business customers in pursuit of lending products and services, and I was able to creatively present loan packages and tell the stories of small business borrowers,” says Turner. “At the same bank where I started as a loan teller, I eventually (over 20 years ago) was promoted to loan manager. In 1996, our small local bank in Laredo merged with Norwest Bank, and I became the business banking manager. Then, in 1998, Norwest merged with Wells Fargo, and I transferred with the company to San Antonio. When I moved here, there weren’t any management positions available, so I accepted a position as a business banker/lender. “This was probably the best thing that ever happened … It was a great way to learn about the community and meet and network with prospects and clients. It also gave me a chance to actually perform the duties and not just manage others. It wasn’t long before I was promoted to business banking manager and began to manage a team of lenders.”

Banking was for many years a man’s profession, but now women are an integral part of that world, and Turner is happy about this change: “When I began in business banking, there was not a single female commercial lender and certainly no female commercial lending managers. Today at Wells Fargo San Antonio/Hill Country, over 30 percent of our lenders are female. I’m thankful to work in an environment where women feel valued for their individual traits, skills and talents. “The face of our customers has also changed,” says Turner. “Early in my career, our business customers were mostly male, but today we have many customers that are woman business owners. Twenty years ago, there just weren’t that many female business owners coming into the bank trying to access capital, and when they did, they would often bring their husbands. They seemed to lack confidence. Not so today: Now women business owners are well prepared and confident.” Turner loves her work. “I have an opportunity every day to make a difference in the lives of my customers by helping satisfy their financial needs and helping them succeed financially. What a great feeling it is to come home every day and know that in some small way, I helped make someone’s dream come true. I can also make a difference in the lives of my teammates by helping them be successful,” says Turner, who is married to Randy Turner and has a 14-year-old daughter, Taryn, a freshman at Boerne High School. Turner’s advice for women who may consider a career in banking is to “look for a company that allows some flexibility and understands how challenging it is to balance family and work. Progressive companies understand that employees’ lives outside work drive a great deal of their success.” Turner balances her work life with time spent on hobbies such as photography, reading and travel. She is also active in the Cibolo Creek Community Church, and she loves to do all she can to give back to her community as a member of the board and executive committee of the North Chamber of Commerce and as chair of the Leadership and Development Council, and as a member of the advisory board of the Boys and Girls Club of Boerne. She is also a corporate partner of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and an alumna of the Leadership Texas Class of 2000 as part of the Foundation for Women’s Resources. On occasion, Turner also speaks to groups of small-business owners.

While Turner feels fortunate for the life and career she now enjoys, it hasn’t always been easy. “My father passed away when I was 14, leaving behind my mother and eight children. At the time of his death, two were in college, and the remaining six children ranged in ages from 7 to 16. My mother, a pharmacist, was a small-business owner. She raised us, and we all went to college. Out of the eight, four are physicians, two are nurses, and two are bankers. My mother did an incredible job raising us and maintaining her business. She had no choice but to balance family and work,” recalls Turner—a good reminder to women everywhere that such balance, and success, is possible.

Brandi Carberry Vitier

Senior Vice President,
The Bank of San Antonio

Commercial lender. Manages current portfolio of clients for both loans and deposits, prospects for new bank clients, manages bank’s Stone Oak office.

Total years in banking: 14 years

Master’s of public administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio

Brandi Vitier didn’t set out to be a banker. When she was working toward her master’s degree, she’d hoped to become a city planner. During graduate school, she worked as an intern for the City of San Antonio, and after graduation she got a job with Laredo National Bank. There she began as a loan assistant and worked her way up to mortgage lending and then to commercial lending. Now, nearly 14 years later, she loves being a banker and can’t see herself doing anything else.
“I was drawn to Laredo National Bank because I could use my Spanish and grow my career there. But what kept me in banking, and why I still love the profession, is that I get to meet amazing entrepreneurs and business owners. Every day involves a new deal to get done. I wasn’t a math whiz; I was best in languages and liberal arts, but I learned credit on the job and in lending classes. My mentor, Brent Given, taught me how to structure deals on a napkin. These days, I love it that I never do the same routine twice; my days are utterly dependent on my clients and their needs,” says Vitier. Some people have misconceptions about bankers, she says: “We are often portrayed as greedy, and that’s not true of us at all. We want to help others. I think in light of the Occupy Wall Street movement, we are lucky to be in San Antonio, where our profession is just about deposits and loans. Here, banking is about the clients.” She also says she’s interested in the ways technology is changing the entire business model of banking. “I believe we will see the end of a bank on every corner. Bankers should go to their clients, and in the future, banking will be about adding true value to a client’s business and will depend on the bankers’ ability to understand your business,” she says.

Today, time with her family and clients are Vitier’s biggest challenges. She also says it’s interesting to see the role of women in banking changing. “When I started banking, we were not allowed to wear pants,” she recalls. “Now, it’s more relaxed, though still professional … but they won’t send you home for wearing pants anymore. Banking is about multitasking and getting it done faster and more accurately for the client, and I think women have excelled in the field for these reasons.” Vitier loves her clients and the diversity of each day’s work. “Being a banker means breakfasts, lunches and dinners with clients, prospects and networking. It’s all about who you know and how you treat your clients. It’s hard to juggle, but it makes life very interesting,” says Vitier, who is a wife to husband Gabe, a mother of two children, Liam (15) and Chloe (8), and the owner of a Great Dane and a boxer. “Women should realize that commercial banking is not a man’s world anymore. You don’t have to fish and hunt (although one of the two helps) to be of value to a business owner. Banking is a great job if you like to help people and you truly want to make a difference. I see it as helping people,” says Vitier.

As an 11-year breast cancer survivor, Vitier had a double mastectomy at 28 and has endured numerous surgeries. In spite of that, she remains upbeat: “It didn’t beat me and only made me stronger!” Today, happy and healthy, she enjoys boating, cooking and music. But as busy as she is, she still finds time to volunteer and be involved in her community. “I’m the president of the board for Alamo Area Mutual Housing, a nonprofit that provides quality affordable housing to our city’s working poor and their families. I also serve on the board of Accion Texas Louisiana, which is the nation’s largest micro lender. It’s an alternative source for businesses to turn to when they can’t get a traditional bank loan,” says Vitier. Feeling happy and blessed, this busy local banker has learned doing what one loves really pays off in life.

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