The World's Most Powerful Bankers

By Michael Deane | December 09, 2010 AAA
The World's Most Powerful Bankers

During the Goldman Sachs trial, Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs' CEO, became arguably the most well-known banker in the world. Prior to this SEC hearing, most people probably didn't know who was running the most powerful banks in the world - if they gave it any thought at all. Blankfein became the face of the subprime crisis' after-effects, whether he deserved to or not. In the large scheme of things, though Goldman Sachs is one of the largest banks in the U.S., there are still bigger banks stateside and much bigger banks worldwide. We'll take a look at these huge banks and the powerful bankers that run them. (To learn more, see Goldman Sachs: By The Numbers.)

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The Public Face
Goldman Sachs is far from the largest bank in the world, but it is considered by many to be the preeminent investment bank in global finance. Lloyd Blankfein is currently the CEO and chairman of the board for Goldman Sachs and has been since 2006. Despite some people's opinion of Blankfein's maneuvers during the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009, the Financial Times named him "person of the year" for 2009. Blankfein received a $9 million (all-stock) bonus from Goldman in 2009, but he grew up in Brooklyn housing projects before making his way to Harvard, where he earned his B.A. and J.D. Blankfein's been working for Goldman since 1981, and he may be most known, aside from the SEC trial, as the banker who claimed he was doing "God's work."

Europe's Biggest Banks and Bankers
The largest global bank in the world is France-based BNP Paribas, which was named largest bank this year by Bloomberg, with assets of $3.2 trillion. This bank was formed through a merger of two of France's biggest banks, Banque Nationale de Paris and Paribas, in 2000. The CEO of this megabank is Baudouin Prot. Prot graduated from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC) and Ecole Nationale d'Administration, and he took a number of positions with the French government before joining BNP in 1983. Prot became CEO of the world's largest bank in 2003. BNP Paribas is different from its large North American counterparts as it emerged from the financial crisis relatively unharmed when compared to their counterparts, and Prot's strategy for the company is seen as one of the reasons that the bank did so well.

Another of the world's largest banks is Munich, Germany's Deutsche Bank, which had assets in excess of 1.5 trillion euros in 2009. Deutsche Bank was founded in 1870 and today is listed on both the Frankfurt and New York Stock Exchanges. The CEO of this German behemoth is Josef Ackermann. Ackermann is originally from Switzerland and has been CEO of Deutsche Bank since 2006. He has also worked at Credit Suisse and served as a guest professor at the London School of Economics. Businessweek reports that Ackermann received compensation of nearly 10 million euros in 2009 at Deutsche Bank.

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The U.S.'s Big Players
Turning back to North America, we'll look at one of the most powerful bankers in the U.S. Jamie Dimon is the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the U.S. by market capitalization. JPMorgan Chase has assets in excess of $2 trillion, and Dimon has been the CEO since 2004. Dimon got his undergrad in psychology and economics from Tufts University before getting his MBA from Harvard in 1982. Before becoming the CEO of JPMorgan chase, Dimon was one of the people responsible for forming Citigroup, and he was head of Bank One before it was bought by JPMorgan. Dimon and JPMorgan Chase were criticized during the TARP payments of 2008, as many questioned if JPMorgan really needed to be bailed out, but still accepted the TARP bailout, which it later paid back.

The largest bank in the U.S. by assets is Bank of America, with Brian Moynihan as its CEO. Moynihan graduated from Brown in 1981, and then received his Juris Doctorate (JD) from Notre Dame. Moynihan joined Fleet Boston in 1993, and Fleet Boston merged with Bank of America in 2004. Moynihan served in various positions at BofA before becoming CEO in 2009.

Dimon may have helped form Citigroup, but it is going on fine without him at this point, being helmed by Vikram Pandit since 2007. Pandit was born in India but moved to the U.S. when he was 16, doing his schooling there before becoming a professor at Indiana University and eventually joining Morgan Stanley in 1983. He became CEO of Citigroup in 2007, shortly before Citigroup felt the brunt of the subprime crisis and had to receive a large bailout from the U.S. government in 2008. Citigroup has assets of nearly $2 trillion and is one of the Big Four Banks in the U.S, along with Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo. (For more, see Banking Has Changed: What Does It Mean For Consumers?)

The Bottom Line
Along with Wells Fargo and its CEO, John Stumpf, these are the biggest banks and CEOs in the U.S., and some of the biggest banks and CEOs in the world. The men mentioned above usually keep a low profile, but they are partially in control of unbelievable assets and hundreds of thousands of staff.

Find out what happened in financial news this week. Read Water Cooler Finance: Steady Stocks, Big G's And Madoff News.

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