It's not easy to be a high earning woman. Research has long suggested that women with higher incomes than their spouses are more prone to divorce. However, in the case of Jane Fraser, who was yesterday revealed as the future CEO of Citigroup, earning more than a spouse doesn't seem to be an issue: Fraser has been married to the same man since 1996. Her husband, a former banker himself, gave up work to help support her in her career.
"We sat down, it was probably Christmas time of '08, and we said one of us has to stop for the family," Fraser told an interviewer six years ago. "And he said, 'Ok I want to go, I'll be the one I'll go and do something different... There was no way we could carry on."
Fraser's ex-banker husband is Alberto Piedra, whose banking career ended in 2009 when he quit as head of global banking for Dresdner Kleinwort. Prior to that, he was head of Bank of America's Financial Institutions Group (FIG) for Europe and before that he spent 16 years at Goldman Sachs, where he ran FIG in Europe. Stefan Jentzsch, the then-head of Allianz and another former Goldman banker, poached Piedra from from BofA in 2006 to run corporate finance for Dresdner alongside Jens-Peter Neumann (also from Goldman). Jentzsch himself is now working as a partner at Perella Weinberg in Munich.
Piedra, in other words, is very well-connected in European banking.
So why did Piedra give up his career? And could other banking husbands with successful banking wives do the same?
What Fraser didn't mention in her 2014 interview, was that when Piedra quit he was engaged or soon to be engaged in a court case alongside other Dresdner bankers over a €400m bonus pool put in place by Allianz at the end of 2008 to stop senior staff quitting before it was taken over by Commerzbank. Commerzbank attempted to renege on its promise to pay bonuses from this pool after reporting a €6.47m loss in 2008 and Piedra and various other bankers fought their case. Piedra was eventually awarded €3m by Commerzbank in late 2009, which would have been a pleasant parting gift.
Nowadays, Piedra seems to have the sort of portfolio career that most senior bankers aspire to move into. He's served on the boards of the World Wildlife Fund UK, Sentebale (Prince Harry’s Charity in Africa), and the University of Notre Dame's London Global Gateway. He's on the advisory board of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and is - or has been - on the board of Dean's Advisors at Harvard.
In his spare time, Piedra also runs his family office, and - as a former FIG banker - presumably offers his wife advice. Both he and Fraser come from illustrious lineages. Piedra's father was minister in Fidel Castro's government until emigrating to the U.S. in 1959, and later became Ronald Reagan's ambassador to Guatemala. Fraser is related to the Scottish Dundas clan, the ancestry of which is reportedly traced back to the son of Utred, Prince of Northumberland.
In 2004, Piedra told us a successful banking career requires, "opportunism and adaptability." Other senior bankers with brilliantly capable wives may want to bear this in mind.
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