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August 11, 2009

Bringing Prudence to Wall Street

Catherine New
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Her words are now prescient. Sallie L. Krawcheck ’92, speaking on a panel to incoming students in early 2005, discussed the conflict of interest between analysts and investment bankers on Wall Street.

“There is one client and one client only,” she told the audience about how analysts should conduct themselves, warning that research should not be dressed up to please companies. “If the company gets upset with you, then so be it — that’s not your client.”

Her vision for a cleaner Wall Street — which has earned Krawcheck a reputation for honest numbers and ethical leadership over the past decade — may be getting closer to reality. On August 3, she was named president of Global Wealth and Investment Management for Bank of America. This places her as a potential successor to Kenneth Lewis as CEO, according to industry reports. From March 2007 to December 2008 she was the CEO and chairman for Citi Global Wealth Management. She is a member of the School’s Board of Overseers.

Krawcheck’s participation in the School’s Individual, Business and Society Curriculum, which is on focused corporate governance and ethical leadership, underscores the ethics framework she will likely bring to her latest role in the banking industry.

Later this month, incoming students will begin the MBA core, which encompasses corporate governance and lessons learned from the financial crisis of 2008. Paul Glasserman, the Jack R. Anderson Professor of Business, who is overseeing the curriculum’s response to the crisis, says that students will need to take a broader view of management, which includes the role of government in business and behavioral aspects of markets.

“The crisis is a reminder of the importance of integrative thinking — connecting ideas that cut across disciplines,” said Glasserman. “In the coming year, we’ll be involving our students in new cases and classes that stress integration. We’ll also be engaging them in a discussion of the future of finance in the wake of the crisis.”

Photo courtesy of Columbia Business School