From asset managers and bankers to heads of state, regulators and commentators, power takes many forms—and it’s never static. Meet the 100 most powerful men and women in global finance for 2016.
2015 Ranking: 89
PATH TO POWER: Weissbluth founded Chicago-based HighTower in 2007, hoping to push the wealth management industry in a new direction by avoiding the conflicts of interest and lack of fiduciary standards endemic to the traditional investment-advising model. Weissbluth is a veteran of the RIA field; before founding HighTower he was president of broker-dealer U.S. Fiduciary Services. Earlier, he was a director at investment consulting firm Rogerscasey. He has a BA in English from Rice and a JD from the John Marshall Law School.
POWER PLAY: HighTower is growing at a breakneck pace. In the first half of 2016, it added eight teams and $2.54 billion in assets. That puts the firm on track to surpass its 2015 success, when over the full year it added 14 teams and $5.1 billion in assets. HighTower now has around $30 billion in AUM.
PATH TO POWER: Ostry earned his BA from Queen’s University in Canada when he was just 18 and went on to receive a BA and MA from Oxford, an MS from the London School of Economics and a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago. He joined the IMF in 1988 as an economist in the research and European departments, and has held a variety of roles in the years since, including heading up the group’s influential biannual World Economic Outlook survey. He became deputy director of research in 2006. Ostry writes prolifically for publications including The Economist, the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal and has been cited in economic remarks by President Obama.
POWER PLAY: Ostry has been pursuing research seemingly at odds with IMF orthodoxy for years; in a 2014 Financial Times article, for example, he decried inequality and argued for “a more redistributive tax system.” But he made his biggest splash in June of this year when he coauthored a paper simply titled “Neoliberalism: Oversold?,” published in the IMF’s own Finance & Development magazine. In it, Ostry lays out a deeply researched argument against austerity and wholesale capital account liberalization, neoliberal policies that have been gospel at the IMF for decades. The month before the paper’s release, the IMF called for massive debt relief for Greece.
PATH TO POWER: Tarullo, a longtime academic and economic-policy wonk, took office on the Fed’s Board of Governors in 2009, when fury over the financial crisis was reaching its zenith. He taught for years at Harvard Law School and is on the faculty of his undergraduate alma mater, Georgetown. Tarullo holds a master’s degree from Duke and a law degree from the University of Michigan.
POWER PLAY: Tarullo has a huge amount of control over banks’ activities, but his work is mainly behind the scenes. Tarullo is the man who launched the “stress tests” that banks have spent hundreds of millions trying to pass in recent years; failure to do so can mean pay cuts, and even pink slips, for top financial executives. The next area where banks must measure up: “living wills”—plans for how they would keep serving clients and prevent market chaos should they go bankrupt. So far, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Bank of New York Mellon and State Street have all provided less-than-satisfactory “living wills.” Their deadline for a rewrite is October 1. If they fail, the banks could be hit with stricter regulations, or even broken up.
PATH TO POWER: Both recent graduates of Yale Law School, Schmidt, 30, and Shapiro, 29, have made a name for themselves as economic policy advisors to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Schmidt, a Yale undergrad, previously worked at the U.S. Treasury Department and the Yale Investments Office, while Shapiro, an alumnus of Princeton, worked at the White House for the National Economic Council.
POWER PLAY: Based in Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters, the “Economikes”—as the two are collectively known—filter economic input before it reaches the candidate and help formulate Clinton’s economic strategies for reforming Wall Street, bolstering employment, raising middle-class income through fair tax codes, making childcare more affordable and refinancing student debt. Clinton sent Schmidt to Flint, Mich., earlier this year to investigate the water crisis, and his intel led Clinton to call for Michigan governor Rick Snyder’s resignation. Top economic voices are first heard by the Economikes: Former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Blinder admits he will “usually email the Mikes” with ideas. Thus, the duo could potentially be shaping the economic agenda of the next U.S. president.
2015 Ranking: 97
PATH TO POWER: Born in Wisconsin in 1954, Swensen did his undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls and earned a PhD in economics at Yale. Following stints at Lehman Brothers and Salomon Brothers, Swensen returned to his alma mater, this time as CIO. He’s been managing Yale’s endowment ever since, and the university’s portfolio has become a model for investors everywhere.
POWER PLAY: Back in 2014, Swensen asked all of Yale’s external investment managers to take into account the threats posed by climate change and how they factored into their investments. In April 2016, he announced in a letter to the Yale investment community that the endowment was beginning to divest from fossil fuels by dumping positions in three fossil fuel producers worth around $10 million. “A few managers held positions we felt were inconsistent with our principles,” Swensen wrote, noting that the move also makes financial sense. Climate change and carbon pricing, he said, are “unknowable risks.”
PATH TO POWER: A native Texan, Stein earned a BA in economics at Harvard and then studied pre-med before making the shift to First Manhattan Consulting Group. He went to Columbia for his MBA and founded robo advisor Betterment in 2008.
POWER PLAY: Betterment has emerged as the leader in the robo-advising industry; the company became the first of this new breed to exceed $5 billion in AUM in July. Betterment’s AUM was just $1 billion 18 months before. In August, Uber announced it had cut a deal to give its drivers fee-free use of the service in lieu of traditional retirement programs.
PATH TO POWER: Dlamini-Zuma was an anti-apartheid and women’s empowerment activist in South Africa in the late 20th century. Earning degrees in zoology and botany from the University of Zululand, medicine and surgery from University of Bristol in the UK and tropical child health from the University of Liverpool, she became South Africa’s minister of health in 1994 in the cabinet of then president Nelson Mandela. In that role she desegregated the health system, advocated for free basic healthcare and outlawed smoking in public places. Appointed minister of foreign affairs in 1999 and minister of home affairs in 2009, she was elected the first female chair of the African Union in 2012, a post she’ll hold until January 2017.
POWER PLAY: Since she is not seeking reelection to her office, many speculate she will run for president of Africa’s largest economy in 2019 when the term of the current president is up. As AU Commission chair, Dlamini-Zuma was instrumental in launching the pan-African passport on July 17, 2016, which allows free border crossing within the continent—first for heads of state, foreign ministers and diplomats, then for all citizens in 2018. The free movement of people is expected to be a massive economic driver, similar to the Schengen Area in Europe.
PATH TO POWER: Born in 1939 during the twilight years of British rule in India, Swamy grew up in New Delhi. His father, a government statistician and native of Tamil Nadu state, often hosted Tamil political leaders at home. Swamy received his PhD in economics from Harvard in 1965 and was a professor there for several years before moving on to the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. He entered the parliament in 1974 and has held a variety of positions since then, including minister of commerce and law.
POWER PLAY: A leader of the ruling BJP constituency, Swamy is known for espousing highly anti-Muslim, Hindu nationalist views and recently argued for the demolition of mosques. Like Donald Trump in the U.S., Swamy has leveraged the power of social media—he has 3 million Twitter followers—and this year succeeded in forcing out Reserve Bank of India governor and financial reformer Raghuram Rajan on the grounds that he was insufficiently Indian because of his prior positions as a finance professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and chief economist of the IMF.
PATH TO POWER: Saeed is presently the managing director of First Gulf Bank and Reem Investments, and a board member of UAE sovereign wealth fund Mubadala, which has around $11 billion in AUM. Saeed previously spent 18 years in Dubai as an SVP for Citibank.
POWER PLAY: In July, two of the largest banks in Abu Dhabi, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank, announced they would be merging. Saeed will be at the helm of the new bank, dubbed the National Bank of Abu Dhabi. The combined institution will be the largest bank in the Middle East with assets of $175 billion.
2015 Ranking: 90
PATH TO POWER: Sheikh Abdullah, a member of the Qatari royal family, is chairman of telecom company Ooredoo and in 2014 took the helm of the emirate’s sovereign wealth fund.
POWER PLAY: The QIA has spent the past year diversifying, and with around $300 billion to work with, the purchases have been big. It opened a New York office in 2015 and quickly announced a $622 million investment in the holding company that owns the Empire State Building. The fund also bought a major stake in the St. Petersburg airport in Russia for around $45 million and spent an astonishing $2.45 billion to buy Asia Square Tower 1, a skyscraper in Singapore’s financial district, from BlackRock.
2015 Ranking: 95
PATH TO POWER: An economist and longtime New York Times columnist, Yale- and MIT-educated Krugman won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2008. In addition to writing, he teaches economics at the City University of New York.
POWER PLAY: The polarized presidential race and the improbable Republican candidacy of Donald Trump have inspired Krugman to write some of his most energized columns in years. His liberal leanings have never been a secret, but in a year when economic populism radically changed politics both at home and abroad, Krugman has been able to step outside the boundaries of his usual turf to expound on the direct economic impact of race relations, national identity and civic responsibility.
PATH TO POWER: A graduate of Duke and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, Ubben managed Fidelity Investments’ Value Fund for eight years and was a managing partner at Blum Capital. He founded San Francisco–based hedge fund ValueAct Capital in 2000.
POWER PLAY: A $530 million loss on Valeant earlier this year did little to dampen activist investor Ubben’s spirits. In August ValueAct bought 38 million shares of Morgan Stanley valued at $1.1 billion (the hedge fund manages around $17.4 billion). Ubben says he made the investment because he thinks Morgan Stanley is undervalued and investors have placed too much importance on issues like Fed oversight. Shares in the bank rose 1.4 percent following disclosure of the purchase.
2015 Ranking: 88
PATH TO POWER: Born in Queens, Asness had the makings of an academic—an MBA and a PhD from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business—but instead opted for Goldman Sachs, founding its Global Alpha fund. He left Goldman to start his own hedge fund, AQR, in 1998.
POWER PLAY: Last year was tough for hedge funds, but AQR managed to eke out positive returns. The opinionated Asness’ real mark, however, was in the political arena. Asness, a libertarian whose favored candidate was Marco Rubio, was a major donor to Our Principles PAC, a super PAC devoted to trying to block Donald Trump’s run for president. When Asness’ father, who was a Trump backer, died in March, he wrote a poignant op-ed for RealClearPolitics about his difficulty reconciling his father’s opinions with his own: “So, I’m still #againsttrump, but with a bit more confusion, and a bit more willingness to listen than before.”
PATH TO POWER: Hu has quietly risen to the top of China’s financial community. Born in 1958, she studied economics at the Graduate School of the People’s Bank of China and went on to serve as deputy governor of the bank. Hu was appointed chairman of the Export-Import Bank of China in 2015
POWER PLAY: The Export-Import Bank is at the center of president Xi Jinping’s plan to build a new Silk Road. In the past year, the bank has entered into a $1 billion deal with the African Export-Import Bank for the creation of new special economic zones and industrial parks, and began funding oil projects in Iran and a $5 billion high-speed rail project in Indonesia.
PATH TO POWER: A Canadian by birth, Katsuyama studied business at Wilfrid Laurier University and started his career at the Royal Bank of Canada, rising to head of global electronic sales and trading. In 2012, he founded his New York–based stock exchange, IEX, which was deliberately designed to thwart high-speed traders. Author Michael Lewis wrote his best-selling book Flash Boys about Katsuyama and IEX.
POWER PLAY: For its first few years of existence, IEX operated as a dark pool, although the goal was to eventually become a public stock exchange, which provides serious benefits, like the ability to compete for IPOs. Katsuyama faced a lot of opposition from high-speed traders and legacy exchanges. Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the New York Stock Exchange, reportedly tried to purchase IEX for a sum in the “hundreds of millions,” while Nasdaq said it would sue the SEC if it approved IEX. But Katsuyama prevailed, and on June 17, IEX was approved as a public exchange. Nasdaq, meanwhile, is eating a serving of humble pie: In August, the exchange announced it would create a new product to insulate investors from high-frequency trading.
2015 Ranking: 91
PATH TO POWER: After Tufts and Harvard Law School, Scaramucci joined Goldman Sachs in 1989 and worked in its investment banking, equities and private wealth management divisions until 1996, when he left to start Oscar Capital Management with a colleague. Oscar was eventually sold to Neuberger Berman and subsequently Lehman Brothers. Scaramucci founded SkyBridge in 2005.
POWER PLAY: SkyBridge Capital’s annual SALT Conference, held in Las Vegas, is the hedge fund industry’s highest-profile gathering, and Scaramucci is one of the industry’s most vocal members. He funded the revival of iconic television show Wall Street Week in 2015 and serves as cohost; this year it was picked up by Fox Business Network. Scaramucci, who served on finance committees for Scott Walker’s and then Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaigns, joined the Trump campaign finance committee in May, penning a Wall Street Journal op-ed about his decision titled “The Entrepreneur’s Case for Trump.”
PATH TO POWER: Born in New York to an Egyptian father and a French mother, El-Erian was raised in all three countries, thanks to his father’s work as a diplomat. He studied at Cambridge and Oxford, and in 1983 took a position with the IMF in Washington. With Bill Gross, El-Erian headed up PIMCO, one of the world’s largest bond investors, for years—but he left the job in 2014 amid reported infighting with Gross and became chief economic advisor at PIMCO’s parent company, Allianz. Gross himself left eight months later and sued the firm for at least $200 million. Since 2012, El-Erian has been chair of President Obama’s Global Development Council.
POWER PLAY: El-Erian has devoted considerable brainpower to thinking through the postcrisis environment. This year, he said international economies need a veritable moonshot to break free of the omnipresent low levels of “non-inclusive” economic growth. “My hope is for what is called a ‘Sputnik moment’—it’s a collective natural realization that if we don’t do something now, something really bad is going to happen,” he told reporters. His new best-selling book, The Only Game in Town, makes a similar argument that central banks alone can’t solve our economic problems.
2015 Ranking: 83
PATH TO POWER: Shang held various positions at the Agricultural Bank of China and the People’s Bank of China before taking over the country’s top regulatory agency in 2011.
POWER PLAY: The number of nonperforming loans held by Chinese banks doubled in 2015, and Shang issued an ultimatum early this year to his country’s commercial lenders: Follow his agency’s lead—including paying attention to capital adequacy ratios—or pay a price. Caixin reported that in a meeting, Shang told executives that if his agency judges their banks to be a systemic risk, they will be required to take several measures, from injecting new capital into the banks to restructuring them—and could even lose their jobs.
2015 Ranking: 61
PATH TO POWER: A former Brown University rugby player and a graduate of Notre Dame’s law school, Moynihan has spent more than two decades at Bank of America, running a number of the bank’s divisions.
POWER PLAY: Moynihan got a huge pay raise last year—his compensation jumped 23 percent to $16 million. It was a reward for Bank of America’s growing profits—almost $16 billion in 2015 compared with $4.8 billion in 2014—coupled with a growing sense among employees that the institution had finally put its crisis-era troubles behind it, having paid billions in 2014 to settle investigations related to its mortgage business. This wasn’t enough for 15-year-old shareholder Natalie Clarke though. She grilled Moynihan at the bank’s annual meeting in April, asking why BofA wasn’t performing more efficiently in a quarter when it missed the mark on revenue.
PATH TO POWER: The newly formed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has been described by The Economist as “China’s answer to the World Bank,” and it is a clear reminder of Chinese investors’ growing international ambitions. A gregarious man who says he once aspired to be an English literature professor, Jin brings to this new endeavor more than 30 years of banking and investment experience with the Chinese government, including time as vice minister at the Ministry of Finance.
POWER PLAY: In Washington, D.C., there’s been an ongoing, low-grade panic among a certain set of policy experts about China’s power, which has manifested in part by heavy-handed diplomatic efforts in Asia. One such effort was a bid by Washington to block other countries from joining the AIIB—a bid to which many countries paid little heed. The bank opened for business in January with 57 founding member countries, and—happily for Jin—dozens more have lined up to join. Among those member countries is the UK, prompting the Obama administration to grumble to reporters that it was concerned about Britain’s “constant accommodation” of China.
PATH TO POWER: Smith earned a BS from Cornell and an MBA from Columbia before joining Goldman Sachs’ technology investment desk in 1994. After years handling deals for companies such as Apple, Microsoft and eBay, Smith founded private equity firm Vista Equity Partners in 2000.
POWER PLAY: Smith—the most successful African American in private equity—has made bank buying up tech companies you’ve never heard of. It’s been a good strategy; Vista’s funds consistently generate returns over 20 percent. In March it opened a new fund with a $10 billion cap. Beyond his business interests, Smith was named chairman of the board of Carnegie Hall in June, making him the first African American to hold that position.
2015 Ranking: 85
PATH TO POWER: The Swiss-born Ermotti left school at 15 to start an apprenticeship at Cornèr Banca—and that was the extent of his formal schooling, although he later completed the Advanced Management program at Oxford. Ermotti moved from Cornèr Banca to Citibank, had a 16-year stint at Merrill Lynch and was at Italian bank UniCredit when he left to join UBS in 2011. Though he initially headed up the bank’s Europe, Middle East and Africa group, Ermotti was appointed CEO after Oswald Grübel’s resignation later the same year.
POWER PLAY: In May, UBS announced it will partner with robo advisor SigFig to develop new digital tools for its 7,000 U.S. wealth management advisors, an indication the bank is taking fintech seriously and that UBS will continue to shift its focus from investment banking to the relatively more stable wealth management industry. Ermotti is also vocal about the need for historically competitive European banks to work together more closely as a way to cut costs amid economic uncertainty, saying on a July call with analysts, “the industry needs to think of ways to get more efficient.”
PATH TO POWER: Figueres was born in San José, Costa Rica, to a political family. Her father, José Figueres Ferrer, was the country’s president three times and her mother, Karen Olsen Beck, was ambassador to Israel and a legislator. Figueres’ older brother, José Figueres Olsen, was president of the nation in the mid-1990s. Figueres also entered public service, but at the international level. She studied anthropology at Swarthmore College and received her master’s in the subject from the London School of Economics.
POWER PLAY: A longtime diplomat and UN functionary, Figueres has been a leader in global climate negotiations since the mid ’90s. After a disastrous UN climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009, the UN appointed her as the executive secretary leading climate change negotiations. Her crowning achievement was the 2016 climate resolution in Paris, where 180 nations, for the first time, agreed to specific, measurable efforts to combat climate change. The Paris Agreement was the largest diplomatic and economic agreement in history, and Figueres is now under consideration for the top job at the UN.
2015 Ranking: 49
PATH TO POWER: The California native left home as a teenager after being chased out by his knife-wielding, substance-abusing mother. He became a handyman and eventually spent years shadowing fellow motivational speaker Jim Rohn. Robbins began his own life-coaching seminars in the mid 1980s and released a series of best-selling books. His $6 billion-a-year self-help empire now includes multimedia production, hospitality, nutritional supplements and consulting for financial powerhouses such as Paul Tudor Jones, Ray Dalio and T. Boone Pickens.
POWER PLAY: Despite some bad PR this year due to injuries sustained by 30 of his seminar attendees during a hot-coal walk, Robbins continues to have outsized influence on the financial world’s biggest players. His first book after a 20-year gap, Money: Master the Game, came out in paperback in March and remains a top seller. And a new documentary on Netflix, Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru, about Robbins and his financial strategy seminars is adding to his fame and influence.
2015 Ranking: 82
PATH TO POWER: The Brit, a Cambridge grad and former stand-up comic, first made waves in the U.S. as a correspondent for Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. His satirical commentary on American politics earned him praise, and he parlayed his stint as guest host of Jon Stewart’s show into a program of his own on HBO. By blending comedy with journalistic research, Oliver has brought attention to often-overlooked issues and become an influential news communicator, especially to younger audiences.
POWER PLAY: Oliver argues that he’s not a journalist, but his show continues to act like a social watchdog. Actions such as the DOJ’s announcement that it will end the use of private prisons and IRS investigations of tax-exempt churches and televangelists can be traced to segments on his show. His screed against presidential candidate Donald Trump—whose ancestral name, Drumpf, Oliver turned into a humiliating meme—set ratings records for HBO and no doubt plays a role in Trump’s historically low poll numbers among young people.
2015 Ranking: 84
PATH TO POWER: A British citizen, Branson studied mathematics and management at Cambridge before starting his finance career at accounting firm Coopers & Lybrand. After a stint at Credit Suisse, he joined SBC Warburg’s Zurich office, where he was head of investor relations. In 2006 he became CEO of UBS Securities Japan, and later CFO of the company’s wealth management and Swiss bank divisions. He joined FINMA in 2010 as head of its banks division, and he was appointed CEO four years later.
POWER PLAY: Branson’s crusade for more transparency in the Swiss private banking system is targeting business in emerging markets. Pointing to corruption scandals in Brazil and Malaysia, he warned in May that 20 banks are under investigation. “We are not dealing here with shades of gray,” he said at a press conference. “The evidence points to clear cases of corruption.” The quest to prevent the use of Swiss banks for tax evasion by international individuals already has one major casualty: FINMA called for the dissolution of 143-year-old bank BSI for its role in the 1MDB affair in Malaysia, whereby state funds were siphoned into the private accounts of government officials.
2015 Ranking: 52
PATH TO POWER: Ding was appointed to head China’s $814 billion sovereign wealth fund in 2013 following a secretive hiring process. He had previously served in various positions on the Chinese State Council, an agency that oversees domestic administrative matters, and in the Ministry of Finance and National Commission for Disaster Reduction.
POWER PLAY: The CIC announced this year that it hadn’t weathered last year’s economic turmoil especially well. Its assets dropped by almost 3 percent in 2015, compared to a gain of more than 5 percent in 2014. But Ding stayed on message, saying that his institution had responded to the losses by reorganizing internally and rethinking its models.
PATH TO POWER: Thiel was born in West Germany in 1967, but his family immigrated to California when he was 1. He was a top chess player as a child and attended Stanford, where he received a BA in philosophy and a JD. He went on to cofound pioneering payments platform PayPal and surveillance software company Palantir, becoming one of Silicon Valley’s leaders.
POWER PLAY: After years of secretly funding lawsuits against Gawker Media, which had outed him as gay, Thiel struck pay dirt this year with Bollea v. Gawker. The suit claimed invasion of privacy after Gawker.com ran portions of a sex video of Terry Bollea, aka professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, on the site. Thiel revealed himself as the source of the lawsuit, and a $140 million settlement forced the company into bankruptcy in June. Not content with that outcome, Bollea’s Thiel-backed attorneys are going after the last $1,500 in the bank account of A.J. Daulerio, the author of the story that went with the sex tape exposé. In between suing blogs and bloggers, Thiel attended the Republican National Convention as a Trump delegate. The billionaire spoke during prime time, endorsing the candidate and arguing that “fake culture wars only distract us from our economic decline.”
2015 Ranking: 41
PATH TO POWER: Rubenstein could have chosen a different path. A graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, where he edited the school’s Law Review, Rubenstein at age 27 was appointed by Jimmy Carter to become a domestic policy advisor, and he likely could have had a long political career. But he ultimately chose finance, and founded Carlyle about 10 years later in 1987. The firm now manages $176 billion in assets.
POWER PLAY: Carlyle’s hedge fund business has been hammered this year—its Claren Road fund has seen redemptions of almost $6 billion—and revenues for the company overall are down 29 percent. But Rubenstein is still a leading financial voice, and a power broker on the political stage as well. In 2012, he donated $7.5 million to repair the Washington Monument. This year, he topped that with an $18.5 million donation to repair the Lincoln Memorial and expand its visitor center. And at a time when it is fashionable among some to be down on America, Rubenstein is excited about his country’s future. He touted his enthusiasm on a recent Carlyle-produced podcast in which he discussed the economic recovery: “The U.S. economy is doing better than any other developed economy in the world,” he said.
2015 Ranking: 66
PATH TO POWER: Thiam, born in Ivory Coast, studied advanced mathematics and physics at École Nationale Supérieure des Mines in Paris (now Mines ParisTech) and received his MBA from INSEAD. Postgraduation, he spent time at McKinsey, the World Bank and as a minister in the Ivorian government. In 2002, Thiam moved to the insurance industry, first at Aviva, then at Prudential, a British insurance company he headed from 2009 to 2015. In July 2015, he was appointed CEO of Credit Suisse.
POWER PLAY: An industry outsider, Thiam was hired to turn around the struggling Credit Suisse and charged with reducing the investment banking side of its business and growing the wealth management division, particularly in Asia where he had previously expanded Prudential’s presence. With Credit Suisse shares dropping during Thiam’s first year on the job, there’s speculation that he isn’t turning the bank around fast enough. But he blames some of that on industry-wide struggles and the turmoil brought by Brexit. “There are coincidences in life where people try to find causality,” he told The Telegraph in May. “I joined the banking industry at a time when it went into a storm.”
2015 Ranking: 69
PATH TO POWER: Becker studied business at Indiana University before joining SVB in 1993. He rose to CEO in 2011 and over the years has become something of a Silicon Valley power broker. SVB works with about 65 percent of tech startups and many venture capital firms in the Valley.
POWER PLAY: SVB continues to be a central, though often unseen, force in the tech industry, and despite all of the talk of a venture capital bubble and overvaluation, the bank seems to be doing fine. Revenue was up 7 percent at the end of the second quarter. Going forward, SVB is targeting healthcare startups as a growth industry.
2015 Ranking: 87
PATH TO POWER: After 14 years managing BlueCrest Capital Management’s biggest fund, Braga spun off her own firm, Systematica, in January 2015, and the Geneva-based computer-driven fund has since grown from $7.8 billion in outside capital to assets of more than $10 billion. The Brazilian with a PhD in engineering from Imperial College London manages more assets than any other woman, and more than many male hedge funders.
POWER PLAY: Braga’s Systematica is thriving—an unusual position for a hedge fund today—which she credits to its approach as a commodity-trading advisor that relies on trends revealed by algorithms as opposed to human decision making. Last November AMG bought BlueCrest’s remaining stake in Sytematica, severing ties between Braga’s new venture and her old employer. Braga has added two new funds to Systematica’s portfolio: Systematica Alternative Markets, a computer-trading fund, raised $450 million in less than a month last fall, and the multi-strategy Synergy fund opened on January 1, 2016, and raised $265 million in a month.
2015 Ranking: 36
PATH TO POWER: The billionaire hedge funder, who got rich investing in depressed stocks, earned a BA in economics from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s in business from Carnegie Mellon. Working his way up from a credit analyst to head trader on a high-yield desk at Goldman Sachs, Tepper launched New Jersey–based Appaloosa Management in 1993. With a net worth of $11.6 billion, Tepper is one of the world’s highest-paid portfolio managers and was the richest man in the state of New Jersey before moving to Florida this year.
POWER PLAY: When the wealthiest man leaves the state, it causes quite a stir: It’s estimated that Tepper’s move to Florida (where there are no personal income or estate taxes) could cost New Jersey hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tax revenue. But it’s challenging to be a hedge funder these days: While Appaloosa’s returns were solid in 2015, at 11 percent, and up from 2014’s 2 percent, they weren’t anywhere near the 42 percent of 2013.
2015 Ranking: 42
PATH TO POWER: An only child, Dalio got a taste for investing at age 12 when he put $300 he earned as a caddy into Northeast Airlines, which soon merged with Delta, tripling his investment. Dalio attended Long Island University and Harvard Business School. He founded Bridgewater in 1975.
POWER PLAY: It’s been a bumpy ride for Dalio over the past year. Bridgewater is still the world’s biggest hedge fund firm with more than $150 billion in AUM, but its Pure Alpha fund, usually a top earner, was down 12 percent in the first half of 2016. That pain was offset by the passive fund, All Weather, which was up 10 percent. But Bridgewater has been under scrutiny for other reasons. A former employee filed a sexual harassment suit against the company with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and the National Labor Relations Board. Although Bridgewater settled, releasing the employee from a non-compete clause, it was unwanted attention for a firm famous for its surveillance of employees and that New York magazine characterized in 2011 as being run by Dalio “like a cult.”
2015 Ranking: 34
PATH TO POWER: A native New Yorker and graduate of NYU and Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, de Blasio has a long history in liberal politics. He was a fundraiser for Nicaragua’s Sandinistas in the late 1980s and a campaign staffer for mayor David Dinkins before running Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign in 2000. He went on to become a New York council member and later the city’s public advocate. De Blasio made it through a hotly contested Democratic primary before decisively winning the mayoral race and taking office in 2014.
POWER PLAY: De Blasio entered the mayor’s office as a representative of anger against wealth inequality and Wall Street abuses, and for a time it looked like his agenda would play beyond the city to a national stage. He made big promises, particularly regarding affordable housing. Yet his administration has been plagued by petty squabbles, from picking a fight over carriage horses in Central Park to fretting over street performers in Times Square, and his relationship with Governor Andrew Cuomo has been notably sour. Critics say he has failed to deliver. Indeed, de Blasio is facing opposition to his housing development plans: In August, the city council voted 45 to 0 against proposed zoning changes.
PATH TO POWER: With a 20-year career at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Erdoes was named CEO of J.P. Morgan Private Bank in 2005 and in 2009 was promoted to her current role. As one of the elite 10 members of chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon’s operating committee, Erdoes is a stable, well-respected force in the business, recognized for her ability to handle money for pension funds, central banks, foundations and high net worth clients.
POWER PLAY: The only woman to complete a mathematics degree at Georgetown in 1989, Erdoes then earned an MBA at Harvard and has been forging paths for women for decades. She is spearheading the JPMorgan Chase ReEntry Program, which recruits women with experience in finance who left the workforce to have children, and she created a network to connect women at the company with one another. In addition to CFO Marianne Lake, Erdoes is widely considered a candidate to eventually succeed JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.
2015 Ranking: 92
PATH TO POWER: Bloomberg founded his eponymous company in 1981 and over the ensuing decades became a billionaire providing information to Wall Street. He spent three terms as mayor of New York, from 2002 to 2013, and returned to the helm of his company, now as much a news organization as a financial data outfit, in 2014.
POWER PLAY: After more than a decade running New York City, Bloomberg has had a hard time staying out of politics. Many of his philanthropic efforts are focused on issues like gun control, and the rise of Donald Trump in 2016 saw many centrists, drawn from the left and right, calling for Bloomberg to run as either a Republican or a third party candidate. Bloomberg opted not to run, arguing in a March editorial on his company’s opinion site, Bloomberg View, that doing so would risk splitting the electorate and handing the presidency to Trump, whom he strongly opposes. Instead, he took the stage during prime time at the Democratic National Convention to endorse Hillary Clinton for president.
PATH TO POWER: An Old Etonian and member of the Bullingdon Club, Johnson studied the classics and philosophy at Oxford, where he was president of the Oxford Union, the school’s debating society. He started his career as a journalist at The Times, and after being fired for fabricating quotes in a story, he moved to the Daily Telegraph, where he established himself as a euroskeptic columnist. Following failed bids for parliament, he became editor of The Spectator in 1999. He was finally elected to parliament two years later, and his raised profile led to his election as mayor of London in 2008. After two terms, he returned to parliament. Prime minister Theresa May appointed him to her cabinet in July.
POWER PLAY: The bicycle-riding, wild-haired, gaffe-prone politician used his widespread popularity to campaign for the UK’s referendum to leave the EU. Against all odds, his “leave” campaign won, and prime minister David Cameron resigned. But Johnson, who was widely believed to be his successor, withdrew from the race and began to qualify or walk back on many of his Brexit campaign’s promises. It earned him scorn both at home and abroad, but it also cleared the way for May to become prime minister—and appoint him foreign secretary.
2015 Ranking: 65
PATH TO POWER: With an MD and a PhD in anthropology from Harvard, and a long career as a public health activist and critic of the World Bank, Kim was an improbable candidate to run the global development institution. But he was liked by then secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who recommended him to President Obama, and with the backing of the U.S. he got the job in 2012.
POWER PLAY: Kim entered the bank with the explicit intention of being a reformer. He’s reorganized it to focus more on specific transnational themes such as trade, agriculture, refugees and water. And he’s cut expenses to the tune of $400 million and 500 jobs. This has left many bank insiders unsettled, and Kim has faced criticism for lacking transparency, but he’s remained popular with the bank’s key shareholders. Obama nominated him for another five-year term in August.
PATH TO POWER: Sloan got his start in banking as a teller during his college years at the University of Michigan, where he earned his undergrad degree in economics and history and an MBA with a concentration in finance and accounting. He started his career at Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company and moved to Wells Fargo in 1987, where he’s been ever since. Sloan served as CFO and CAO for the bank before becoming president and COO in November 2015
POWER PLAY: Sloan’s appointment to president and COO is the latest sign that he’s being groomed to take over the top spot when CEO John Stumpf reaches Wells Fargo’s mandatory retirement age of 65 (he turned 63 in September). The 56-year-old Sloan, who’s long been a contender for the position, has been a major player in Wells Fargo’s ongoing purchase of $31 billion in assets from General Electric’s GE Capital.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Wells Fargo was thrown into turmoil soon after the October–November issue of Worth went to press, beginning with the revelation that, under pressure to meet aggressive sales goals, employees created as many as 2 million bogus bank and credit card accounts for its customers. CEO and chairman John Stumpf (number 17) was called before Congress twice to testify about the scandal and, after agreeing to surrender stock grants valued at $41 million, resigned on October 12. Sloan, named to the Power 100 for the first time this year, took over as CEO immediately.
2015 Ranking: 67
PATH TO POWER: Kravis was a pioneer in private equity. He quit Bear Stearns in 1976 to make his way in the fledgling industry and founded Kohlberg Kravis Roberts with his cousin George Roberts and his former Bear Stearns boss Jerome Kohlberg, who passed away last year. The trio grew $120,000 into today’s $120 billion in holdings. On the firm’s 40th birthday, in an interview with Bloomberg, Kravis reflected on the changes in his industry: “There’s money everywhere today,” he said. “There’s so much more transparency. Which also means our business has much more competition. I sort of liked it when it was just us.”
POWER PLAY: Kravis has been a prominent donor to Republican causes over the years, and he helped back Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign with big-dollar fundraisers that brought the candidate millions. Unfortunately for Kravis, and for Bush, 2016 is a year in which those millions do not go very far. So Kravis has turned his attention down-ballot, giving the maximum sums allowed to the Republican Party (though not its presidential nominee) and to individual legislators—including his home state (New York) Democratic senator Chuck Schumer. Donald Trump has—repeatedly—suggested Kravis as a possible secretary of the Treasury if the candidate were to win, a possibility that Kravis said he found “scary.”
PATH TO POWER: A former governor of the Bank of Israel, Fischer was appointed to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in 2014. His career has bounced around among public service, academia and the private sector, including more than 20 years on the MIT economics faculty, leadership roles at the World Bank and the IMF, and a stint, from 2002 through 2005, as vice chairman of Citigroup.
POWER PLAY: In addition to his involvement with the Fed’s decision to hike interest rates in December 2015, Fischer played a prominent role among the Washington officials seeking to calm international investors in the wake of a weak jobs report in May followed by the Brexit vote in June. But he wasn’t all roses and sunshine: He cautioned that other European countries might be encouraged to follow the UK’s example and pull out of the EU—and, if they do, investors might have good reason to get antsy.
PATH TO POWER: Bullard has worked at the St. Louis Fed since 1990, and he became president in 2008. He is also an honorary professor of economics at Washington University in St. Louis. Bullard hails from Minnesota and earned his doctorate in economics from Indiana University. He has encouraged his colleagues to think long and hard before raising interest rates.
POWER PLAY: The Fed typically releases periodic, long-term projections of how the economy will perform, helping traders and economists plan ahead. But Bullard is done with all that. At a meeting in June to release projections by 17 Fed officials, a dot plot charting the projections displayed only 16 dots. Bullard later fessed up: His was the missing one. The St. Louis Fed will no longer project beyond 2.5 years, he told reporters. After a chaotic economic decade and with a number of factors—including unknown shifts in productivity growth and potential future economic shocks—on the horizon, Bullard is not willing to risk making a prediction that looks further into the future than that.
2015 Ranking: 64
PATH TO POWER: The son of a tax finance advisor, Schäuble followed in his father’s footsteps as a senior administrator at the Freiburg tax office. He entered politics in 1972 as a member of the Bundestag and eventually joined the cabinet of West German chancellor Helmut Kohl. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, he led reunification negotiations. An elder leader of the CDU party, Schäuble campaigned with Angela Merkel in 2005 and became finance minister following her election.
POWER PLAY: The dyspeptic politician has been at odds with the ECB over its policy to give cheap loans to Greek banks and the suggestion of a bailout for Italian banks. Long popular at home for his calls to have all EU nations abide by the same debt and deficit rules, Schäuble’s arguments got a boost this year with a better-than-expected budget surplus of 18.5 billion euros—evidence that German budget discipline, the sort Schäuble and fellow countrymen wish to impose on other EU countries, works. “Those who have kept to the rules have decent economies,” he said in July.
PATH TO POWER: A former chairman of the Agricultural Bank of China who grew up in a farming family, Liu is widely respected as a pragmatic and intelligent banker. He was placed at the helm of the China Securities Regulatory Commission in February after Communist Party heads removed Xiao Gang from the post, following a period in which stocks tumbled 28 percent from record highs. One of Xiao’s final decisions, to hook the country’s stock market up to a circuit breaker that his agency could switch off if stocks fell by too much, seemed amateurish and alarmed investors, paving the way for Liu’s ascendency.
POWER PLAY: Liu has been thrust into the spotlight as the man with the unenviable task of improving China’s stock markets during a volatile time. “If there is a senior Chinese cabinet job that seems to denote power and prestige but is the daily target of public anger and ridicule, the chairmanship of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, the mainland’s top securities watchdog, would have to lead the list,” South China Morning Post editor in chief Wang Xiangwei wrote earlier this year. One of Liu’s first moves was to clamp down on fraudulent IPOs.
PATH TO POWER: A Washington–based nonprofit dedicated to investigative journalism, the ICIJ connects some 190 reporters in more than 65 countries to focus on exposing corruption and cross-border crime. Founded in 1997, the ICIJ’s investigations have included the global tobacco industry, private water utility companies, war profiteers and the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl. Ryle, an Australian investigative journalist, became the group’s director in 2011.
POWER PLAY: Few events rattled financial heavyweights and politicians this year as strongly as the leak of confidential documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The ICIJ stepped in to sort through the tremendous amount of data—11.5 million documents—exposing, among other things, money laundering, fraud and tax avoidance by corporations, individuals and politicos including Iceland’s prime minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, who was forced to resign in disgrace. Though not all the uncovered transactions were illegal, they raised pointed questions about income inequality in a year when the issue has proven politically critical both in the U.S. and abroad.
2015 Ranking: 45
PATH TO POWER: Corbat has worked for Citigroup—or firms that later became part of Citigroup—for his entire career. He took the bank’s top post in 2012, replacing Vikram Pandit as CEO, and saw the bank through a tumultuous period, with Citi failing the Federal Reserve’s stress test multiple times before finally passing in 2015.
POWER PLAY: For getting the bank to a position where it could pass the Fed’s stress test, Corbat was rewarded with a 27 percent increase in his compensation, for a total 2015 haul of $16.5 million. The compensation committee was also pleased with Corbat for his success in bolstering the bank’s profits, which he was able to bring to a 10-year high.
2015 Ranking: 40
PATH TO POWER: Botín is the fourth generation of her family to lead the Spanish Santander Group. Born in Spain and educated abroad, the Bryn Mawr and HBS graduate became a VP at J.P. Morgan at age 24, and in 1988 she returned to Madrid to work her way up in the family business. Since that time—save for a three-year hiatus—Botín has headed units in Latin America, Spain and the UK. She became chair upon her father’s death in 2014.
POWER PLAY: It’s been a challenging year for Botín, whose bank has seen a sharp decline in profit. Highly publicized changes on the executive team haven’t helped; the U.S. branch of Santander has had a disappointing performance and failed a stress test for the third year in a row; and Santander UK—the division she helmed prior to becoming chairman, and for which she earned an honorary damehood of the British Empire—has been hit hard by the weakened pound. But she’s vying to acquire a large branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland and potentially MBNA in the U.S. Should those mergers take place, Santander could be poised for aggressive growth.
2015 Ranking: 55
PATH TO POWER: PATH TO POWER: As the granddaughter of Fidelity founder Edward C. Johnson II, Johnson spent much of her life preparing to lead the business. After receiving her MBA from Harvard, she joined Fidelity in 1988 as an equity analyst. Ten years later she moved into executive roles, where she gained the respect of peers— and even attempted to oust her father as CEO. He didn’t hold it against her. She was named CEO in October 2014.
POWER PLAY: Fidelity’s revenue rose in 2015 to $15.9 billion, but pro t fell 6 per- cent as the company played catch-up with its competitors, who have been faster to o er ETFs. Although critics say Johnson’s reluctance to move away from actively man- aged funds is a weakness, she shows signs of changing direction: Much of the com-
pany’s spending in 2015 went to technology and research of new products. This sum- mer Fidelity launched its own robo advisor, Fidelity Go,
and it has led with the SEC to create a new exchange- traded product.
2015 Ranking: 68
PATH TO POWER: With a career that has spanned consulting at McKinsey, an economics professorship at MIT and advising President Bill Clinton on policy, Brainard was well prepared for the Fed when she became a governor in 2014.
POWER PLAY: In the past year, Brainard has been a voice of caution, arguing that raising interest rates too quickly would jeopardize the economic recovery and particularly risk harming the job market. Her views have been popular on the left and she seems to have won the argument for the time being—another rate hike is unlikely at least until the presidential election has been resolved. And the election could be a big deal for Brainard; she donated $2,700 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the maximum amount allowed for an individual, and she is reported to be a leading candidate for U.S. trade representative or Treasury secretary should Clinton be elected.
2015 Ranking: 53
PATH TO POWER: A 17-year veteran at JPMorgan Chase, Lake became CFO in 2012. Previously CFO of JPMorgan Chase’s Consumer & Commodity Banking unit, the U.S.-born, British-raised Lake took over leading the bank’s quarterly earnings calls last year at the behest of CEO Jamie Dimon.
POWER PLAY: As CFO of the largest U.S. bank by assets, which total over $2 trillion, Lake has major clout on Wall Street. JPMorgan Chase is on a hiring spree, adding more than 5,400 positions in the first half of 2016 to bring the company’s head count above 240,000, and it’s raising its minimum wage to $16.50 per hour, which will impact 18,000 employees. Earlier this year at JPMorgan’s Investor Day, Lake clarified that JPMorgan Chase is more than just a bank: “We’re a technology company,” she said, referring to the $9 billion tech budget and the 40,000 technologists at the firm.
2015 Ranking: 14
PATH TO POWER: The native Parisian specialized in antitrust law at Baker & McKenzie for 24 years before entering French politics in 2005. She began as a trade minister in Jacques Chirac’s cabinet, and was Nicolas Sarkozy’s agriculture and, later, finance minister. In 2011, she took over as managing director of the IMF from Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who stepped down after being charged with attempted rape.
POWER PLAY: Though Lagarde has been widely credited with restoring the IMF’s credibility following the scandalous exit of her predecessor and for being the voice of reason during the Greek debt crisis, she has been dogged by her role in the decade-old Bernard Tapie affair involving accusations of corruption in the sale of Adidas. Her decision as French finance minister in the 2008 case led to a 404-million-euro arbitration payout for Tapie, who had ties to Sarkozy. That payment was eventually annulled and Lagarde was absolved of wrongdoing, but a recent corruption probe into the incident has her facing negligence charges and up to one year in jail. Despite this distraction, the IMF appointed Lagarde to a second term in February, and she continues to receive its board’s support.
2015 Ranking: 29
PATH TO POWER: Gundlach graduated from Dartmouth and started studying for a PhD in theoretical mathematics at Yale but dropped out to pursue a career as a rock musician with a band in California. After that failed, he turned to investment banking. Gundlach joined TCW’s bond desk and was with the company for almost 25 years, eventually serving as its chief investment officer. He was fired in December 2009 and took more than a dozen members of his team with him to found DoubleLine. The firm now has $100 billion in AUM, and Gundlach is considered one of the foremost bond investors in the industry.
POWER PLAY: Gundlach’s DoubleLine Total Return Bond Fund is the company’s flagship, and its past successes earned Gundlach the title of “bond king,” a moniker he usurped from Bill Gross after the latter’s high-profile exit from PIMCO in 2014. But this year has been rough on the fund: It underperformed in the first two quarters of 2016, and it’s trailing its competitors in terms of gains. “When I accumulate all the things that have gone wrong, it’s like a perfect storm of negativity for DBLTX,” Gundlach acknowledged in a DoubleLine webcast earlier this year.
2015 Ranking: 46
PATH TO POWER: Andreessen studied computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he helped develop the Mosaic web browser at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. He later cofounded Netscape, an internet company whose flagship product, Netscape Navigator, was a browser based on Mosaic. After a 1995 IPO, Netscape later sold to AOL in a deal that valued it at $10 billion. In 2009, Andreessen and Ben Horowitz founded their eponymous VC firm.
POWER PLAY: Andreessen Horowitz is one of the biggest VC firms in Silicon Valley, and by association Andreessen is one of the highest-profile investors. The firm initially focused on software investments, but in late 2015 it launched a $200 million life sciences fund headed by Vijay Pande, a disease researcher and Stanford professor. In June, Andreessen Horowitz added a new, $1.5 billion fund, the fifth in its portfolio.
2015 Ranking: 48
PATH TO POWER: A graduate of Harvard and Columbia Law, Indian-born Bharara worked in private practice for seven years before becoming a prosecutor in Manhattan in 2000. His boss at the time was then U.S. district attorney Mary Jo White. Bharara went on to serve as legal advisor to New York Senator Chuck Schumer and was tapped by President Obama to serve as Manhattan U.S. Attorney in 2009.
POWER PLAY: For a while Bharara was the king insider trading prosecutions, but a 2014 case went sour, requiring a higher level of evidence to be produced in future cases. The past year saw him dogging New York politicians, including Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York mayor Bill de Blasio, and scoring convictions against the two top lawmakers in the State Assembly, and many thought his days going after insider trading were done. But in August he won an insider trading conviction against Sean Stewart, a former banker at Perella Weinberg Partners, and he brought a new insider trading case against former Dean Foods chairman Tom Davis and investor Billy Walters. He also appealed a decision dismissing fraud charges against mortgage lender Countrywide.
2015 Ranking: 43
PATH TO POWER: A graduate of Columbia and Yale Law School, Ceresney was a prosecutor in Manhattan going after white-collar criminals before becoming a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, where he co-chaired the White Collar Group. He joined the SEC as codirector of enforcement in 2013, and became the sole head of enforcement in 2014.
POWER PLAY: The agency came off a record year in 2015, and this year there’s been a drop off in cases related to the 2008 financial crisis. Nevertheless, the SEC is honing in on the burgeoning private equity industry. In a May speech, Ceresney said the SEC is “spending its limited resources” on policing private equity because “it is important to understand that retail investors are significantly invested” in the area. That includes the pension plans and university endowments on which millions of Americans rely.
2015 Ranking: 47
PATH TO POWER: Following eight years as president of the Asian Development Bank, the Oxford-educated Kuroda took over as Japan’s top banker in 2013. Since then, he’s been pushing for a more hands-off monetary policy.
POWER PLAY: Japan has been struggling to hit inflation targets for years, but Kuroda still has a few arrows left in his quiver. In January he caught the financial world by surprise when he instituted negative interest rates, and in August he said he is considering deepening the cut. That may not be enough to move the country toward today’s 2 percent target, and there is talk of printing money to boost inflation as well. Kuroda is carrying out a “comprehensive assessment” of monetary policy and may consider working closer with Prime Minister Shinzō Abe in the coming year.
2015 Ranking: 44
PATH TO POWER: The Dartmouth and Wharton grad began his career as a credit analyst at Chase Manhattan Bank. In 1986, he joined Vanguard, where he eventually became managing director of institutional and international business. After 13 years in this role, he became CEO in 2008. Two years later, he was elected chairman of the board of directors and board of trustees.
POWER PLAY: Fueled by low-fee index funds, Vanguard continues to be one of the world’s largest mutual fund companies, with more than $3 trillion in AUM. And while much of that is due to investor flight from actively managed funds, McNabb points to Vanguard’s swift adoption of fintech as part of its appeal. After little over a year, its robo platform, Personal Advisor Services, now has $40 billion in AUM. “Rather than push back on the technology, find ways to embrace it and use it,” McNabb said in June at the Morningstar Investment Conference. “The firms that learn to embrace the technology to go along with the advice they provide will be the winning firms.”
2015 Ranking: 31
PATH TO POWER: The native Athenian studied civil engineering at the National Technical University of Athens, where he was active in student politics. After working in construction, Tsipras unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Athens in 2006 as the left-wing Syriza party candidate. He was elected to parliament three years later and rose to the leader of Syriza. Tsipras became prime minister in 2015 and was reelected later that year.
POWER PLAY: Tsipras was the big winner following last year’s near-Grexit, by resigning as prime minister only to be reelected a month later. His government has begrudgingly raised taxes, cut pension plans and instituted other austerity measures as part of the EU’s bailout deal, but friction with the governing bloc remains as he demands further debt relief for Greece. Brexit has bolstered his arguments against the European Commission’s strict fiscal policies, and he is trying to form a coalition of the economically beleaguered southern European nations to support him.
2015 Ranking: 32
PATH TO POWER: Icahn grew up in Queens and graduated from Princeton in 1957. A veteran of Wall Street, he founded securities firm Icahn & Co. in 1968.
POWER PLAY: Perhaps even more than the candidate himself, Donald Trump’s supporters have been the story of this year’s presidential campaign, and Icahn has aligned himself closely with these men and women. Hailing from an outer borough of New York, Icahn told CNBC that he recognizes he is among “the Archie Bunkers of the world,” for whom Trump’s message has particular resonance. Trump offered Icahn a position on his economic advisory council, but the investor turned down the presidential hopeful. Trump continues to suggest, however, that Icahn could make a good secretary of the Treasury.
PATH TO POWER: Kenny, a graduate of National University of Ireland, Galway, started his career as a primary school teacher. He entered politics in 1975 when he took over his father’s seat in the parliament and has held various roles in government over the years since, including minister of tourism and trade. Kenny became prime minister in 2011 and added minister of defense to his resume in May of this year.
POWER PLAY: When the UK voted to leave the European Union in June, it suddenly thrust Ireland, and Kenny, into a pivotal position in Europe. Ireland immediately began receiving a flood of passport requests—4,000 per day compared with an average of 200—from British investors and attorneys worried about losing access to the European market. And because of Ireland’s cozy business relationship with the UK, Kenny and Ireland’s delegation in the European parliament are reportedly back-channeling on behalf of the Brits. Longer term, many global financial firms may look to open or expand headquarters in Ireland, which offers an English-speaking population and continued access to the European market.
2015 Ranking: 39
PATH TO POWER: Born in England and raised in Hong Kong, Hancock helped found J.P. Morgan’s Global Derivatives Group in 1991. After the financial crisis he jumped ship for AIG. He took over as CEO after Bob Benmosche stepped down in 2014 and has focused on cutting costs—including reducing senior management ranks by nearly a quarter—as investors push for more profitability.
POWER PLAY: Hancock’s leadership skills were challenged this year as AIG was confronted with a chorus of critics, including activist investors Carl Icahn and John Paulson, who called the company bloated and urged that it be split up. Hancock blunted the assault by giving Icahn and Paulson board seats. As part of his own plan to downsize the company, Hancock has ousted expensive executives, including David Herzog, the company’s CFO, and John Doyle, who headed the commercial insurance division.
2015 Ranking: 24
PATH TO POWER: A graduate of the University of Chicago Law School and a five-time Jeopardy! champion, Cordray began his political career clerking for the ultraconservative, ill-fated Reagan Supreme Court appointee Robert Bork. In the ’90s Cordray rose through Ohio politics, and in 2009 he became the state’s attorney general. Obama appointed him to head the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2012.
POWER PLAY: Cordray has made a lot of enemies for his do-gooder work at the CFPB. In September the CFPB exacted its largest fine ever—$185 million—from Wells Fargo when it found out bank employees had been creating fake accounts. His organization, championed by progressive stalwart Elizabeth Warren, is constantly in the crosshairs of pro-business groups and conservative idealogues, as is Cordray’s future. He hasn’t yet announced what’s next in his career, but some are speculating that he may run for governor of Ohio, replacing term-limited Republican John Kasich. And his enemies are ready: Already television ads are airing in his home state denouncing his potential 2018 candidacy.
2015 Ranking: 33
PATH TO POWER: The son of a Communist Party official, Zhou followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a member of the party, and married another Chinese power broker, Li Ling, who oversees the department of the Ministry of Commerce concerned with treaties. In the 1990s, Zhou rooted out corruption from his post atop the China Securities Regulatory Commission, earning himself the nickname “the Flayer.”
POWER PLAY: As investors worldwide continue to cast a worried eye toward China’s slowing growth, volatile economy and currency devaluations, Zhou has taken a rare step for a leader at the opaque People’s Bank: He is speaking out publicly. At news conferences and in written statements, Zhou has acknowledged the international worries and explained why he feels the country’s economy is suited to weather the hard times it’s faced over the last year and a half.
PATH TO POWER: Simons is an award-winning mathematician and a member of the National Academy of Sciences who received his doctorate at 23 and worked as a code breaker during the Cold War. He remains active in academia even as he continues to pull in billions—$1.65 billion in 2015—from Renaissance, the systematic-trading powerhouse that he founded in 1982 when he was 44.
POWER PLAY: Not only is Renaissance one of 2016’s best-performing hedge funds, but Simons also has become exceptionally active politically, particularly as a top donor. As of June, Simons and Renaissance co-CEO Robert Mercer had given a combined $29.5 million to political groups in 2016, but on opposite sides of the aisle: Simons has been a major Clinton backer, while Mercer has thrown his weight behind Trump.
PATH TO POWER: The Harvard-educated hedge funder started trading in 1987 in his college dorm room. He founded Citadel in Chicago in 1990 with a $1 million investment from Glenwood Capital’s Frank Meyer. More than 25 years later, the fund has $25 billion in AUM.
POWER PLAY: Citadel posted double-digit returns in its main hedge funds in 2015, making it one of the top performers in a rocky year. Although Griffin made headlines in 2015 for his high-profile divorce from ex-wife Anne Dias Griffin, the case ended in settlement and Griffin emerged relatively unscathed. His $1.7 billion 2015 salary made him the highest-paid hedge fund manager in the world.
PATH TO POWER: A graduate of Wharton, Cohen founded S.A.C. Capital Advisors in 1992 after more than a decade trading for Gruntal. S.A.C. was a top hedge fund for years with returns that consistently blew the competition out of the water, but then a slew of insider trading cases, beginning in 2012, hit the firm. While Cohen himself was never convicted of the charge, some of his employees were, and he eventually converted the firm into a family office, Point72 Asset Management.
POWER PLAY: Cohen’s fortunes have turned. A civil suit brought against him by the SEC was quietly dropped at the beginning of the year. Point72’s returns in 2015 rose around 16 percent, compared to a drop of 1 percent for hedge funds overall. And as a cherry on top, his settlement with the SEC should allow him to raise money from outside investors starting in 2018. (He’s launching a hedge fund, Stamford Harbor Capital, although he
won’t be managing any money for it.)
2015 Ranking: 35
PATH TO POWER: The congressman grew up on a Texas farm. After earning degrees from Texas A&M and UT Austin law school, Hensarling worked his way up in Republican politics, serving as executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the 1990s. He then spent a decade in business before being elected to Congress in 2002. He is now chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
POWER PLAY: Hensarling has an ideological opposition to financial regulation. In the run-up to the general election this November, he released a plan to throw out Dodd-Frank that includes repealing the Volcker Rule, taking away the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s ability to designate any bank “too big to fail” and eliminating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Many in the business community like what they’re hearing. For his 2016 reelection race, Hensarling hauled in $2 million in donations. That sum would be respectable for a senator in a tight race, but Hensarling is merely a congressman and is running virtually unopposed, challenged only by a little-known Libertarian.
2015 Ranking: 26
PATH TO POWER: Lou has worn many different hats over the course of his career, including vice minister of finance, vice governor of Guizhou province and head of a sovereign wealth fund. He was appointed finance minister in 2013.
POWER PLAY: Lou, who usually eschews the foreign press and media attention in general, has been on the world stage a lot this year. He chaired the G20 summit and made one of China’s most public comments about the U.S. election, calling Donald Trump “an irrational type.” Lou has been urging the U.S. to increase deregulation, and at home he has been pushing for the liberalization of labor laws.
2015 Ranking: 38
PATH TO POWER: After receiving her undergrad degree from the College of William and Mary, White earned a master’s in psychology from the New School and a law degree from Columbia. From 1993 to 2002, she was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where she prosecuted mobster John Gotti and the terrorists responsible for the 1993 WTC bombing. Before her appointment to the SEC in 2013, White led the litigation department at Debevoise & Plimpton, where she represented JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and UBS, among other banks.
POWER PLAY: In July, White unveiled a new broker scorecard designed to give investors uniform data on stock orders and to protect investors from what White has called “information overload.” The move will provide information on metrics such as fill rates and broker rebates.
2015 Ranking: 27
PATH TO POWER: The 86-year-old billionaire, who founded Soros Fund Management in 1970, grew up in a Jewish family in Nazi-occupied Hungary. In 1947 Soros left to attend the London School of Economics, earning a BS and an MS in philosophy. After starting out as a clerk at a merchant bank in London, he moved to New York to work at a friend’s father’s brokerage firm. While a vice president at Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder in 1966, he started his first fund with $100,000 of the firm’s money. In 1992, Soros famously made more than $1 billion betting against the pound on what came to be known as Black Wednesday.
POWER PLAY: Lured out of retirement this summer by the siren call of European turmoil, Soros loaded up on gold and shorted Deutsche Bank just before the Brexit vote, raking in millions. Still relevant after five decades in finance, Soros also has contributed billions to philanthropies through his Open Society Foundations, which this year donated millions to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. More quietly, Soros is seeking to reform the American justice system by channeling more than $3 million into seven local district-attorney campaigns.
2015 Ranking: 19
PATH TO POWER: The reserved, Australian-born Gorman earned his MBA from Columbia in 1985 after starting his career as a lawyer. He was a senior partner at McKinsey and head of Global Wealth Management for Merrill Lynch before moving to a similar position at Morgan Stanley in 2006. Gorman took the helm of the corporation in 2010. He is consistently one of the highest-paid bank CEOs—and though he still ranked near the top in 2015, with a total compensation of $21 million, he took a pay cut of 6.7 percent (or $1.5 million) from 2014, as market conditions remain difficult for the bank.
POWER PLAY: The Brexit vote has put Gorman in the news as he has struggled to parse what the country’s decision will mean for his international firm’s strategy and for its day-to-day logistics. The BBC reported that the company would be moving 2,000 London jobs—a story that Morgan Stanley vigorously denied. “Clearly we and other banks will have to have a European–style headquarters in one of the major markets, whether it’s Frankfurt or one of the other cities there,” Gorman told reporters. “We’re not having a knee-jerk reaction here. This is going to unfold over at least a five-year timetable.”
2015 Ranking: 58
PATH TO POWER: Ryan’s first taste of politics was as a student at Miami University in Ohio, where he volunteered for none other than John Boehner. During his summer breaks, Ryan worked as an Oscar Mayer salesman, once driving the Wienermobile. Years later, as a congressman from Janesville, Wisc., Ryan would replace Boehner, deftly navigating a riled-up Republican Party by being both bland and calculating.
POWER PLAY: Boehner resigned as Speaker of the House in October 2015, when it became apparent that he could no longer reconcile a restive Tea Party faction with the rest of the Republican Party, much less the Democrats, and Ryan, seen by many as serious on public policy but folksy enough for the base, stepped into the void. His power grab came at a tough time: He’s had to support, but not really support, Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency, while resisting calls to run himself. Ryan’s decision not to run is shrewd: He may be banking on a Trump flameout, leaving him as the savior for a party in need of a new soul. And he’s been surreptitiously blocking Obama’s TPP trade deal on the side.
2015 Ranking: 23
PATH TO POWER: Known as “the Canadian” to many Brits, Carney became governor of the Bank of Canada in 2008 following 13 years at Goldman Sachs, where he was managing director of investment banking. He is credited with deftly steering Canada during the financial crisis, and was appointed chairman of the Financial Stability Board in 2011 (he remains in the post). In 2013 he became the first non-Briton to be governor of the Bank of England.
POWER PLAY: The British economy has been slowly contracting since the Brexit vote. As a result, the IMF lowered the UK’s 2017 GDP growth forecast to 1.3 percent, a steep downgrade. Carney’s response has been called a roll of the dice: He cut interest rates to a record low of 0.25 percent and created a stimulus package that includes a £70 billion bond-buying program. So far the pound is up and unemployment remains steady, but even Carney seems pessimistic about the future, predicting increased unemployment and overall hard times for the UK.
2015 Ranking: 22
PATH TO POWER: Abe comes from a long line of public servants. His father, Shintaro Abe, was Japan’s foreign minister, and his grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, was prime minister. In 1982, Abe himself became secretary of the foreign ministry and began to play increasingly important roles in the Liberal Democratic Party. He’s been prime minister twice, first from 2006 to 2007 and then again beginning in 2012.
POWER PLAY: Japan’s economy has been in the doldrums for a while, and there don’t seem to be any quick fixes. To try to jump-start things, Abe pushed for a $274 billion stimulus package, approved in August, which includes $73 billion in cash payments to low-income Japanese and 0 percent interest loans for infrastructure projects.
2015 Ranking: 12
PATH TO POWER: Lew, a graduate of Harvard and Georgetown Law, has had a wide-ranging career, with stints in law, banking, academia and politics. During the Clinton administration he worked as a special assistant to the president and eventually became director of the Office of Management and Budget. It was a position he would hold again under President Obama before becoming chief of staff, and, in 2013, secretary of the Treasury.
POWER PLAY: Lew enjoys a special trust from the president, who has often tasked Lew with publicly advancing his agenda. After the Brexit vote, it was Lew’s job to soothe investors, assuring them that the American economy was sound and that global markets would not tank because of the Brits’ decision. And Obama deputized Lew to stump for his signature trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has come under fire from both parties during this populist-tinged election season. Obama has promised to ram the deal through Congress before he leaves office, and his effort has seen Lew tromping across the country for meetings with business and agricultural leaders.
2015 Ranking: 16
PATH TO POWER: Reared in Brooklyn public housing by a postal worker dad and receptionist mom, Blankfein was the valedictorian of his high school class. He attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School, graduating in 1978. Blankfein worked at Proskauer Rose and Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine before joining J. Aron, which Goldman eventually bought. He has been with the Wall Street powerhouse ever since, assuming the top post in 2006.
POWER PLAY: It wasn’t long ago that Goldman, and Blankfein personally, were populist symbols of Wall Street rapaciousness. Today, thanks in large part to regulations coming out of the financial crisis, the bank is less “vampire squid,” as it was once called in Rolling Stone, and more Flipper. In April, the Wall Street firm best known for servicing the ultra-wealthy began establishing online savings accounts and investing in CDs when it purchased consumer bank GE Capital Bank.
2015 Ranking: 01
PATH TO POWER: Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now known as Pope Francis, was born in Argentina to Italian parents who had immigrated fleeing fascism. Francis had many odd jobs—nightclub bouncer, janitor and chemical technician among them—before he entered the seminary. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1969 at age 32 and went on to earn graduate degrees in theology and philosophy. After rising through the ranks of the Jesuit order, he became the 266th pope in 2013.
POWER PLAY: Francis had several big moments in 2016. The Paris climate deal, the largest economic agreement in history, closely mirrored his 2015 call for global cooperation on climate change. And he inserted himself into U.S. politics, first by indicating that Donald Trump is not Christian because of his policies toward immigrants and then by inviting Bernie Sanders, whose progressive politics closely reflect his own, to the Vatican, where the two met.
2015 Ranking: 25
PATH TO POWER: Dimon was born in New York, the son and grandson of stockbrokers. He attended Tufts and Harvard Business School, graduating in 1982. Eschewing offers from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers, Dimon joined American Express as an assistant to Sandy Weill, ultimately helping Weill build Citigroup. He later became CEO of Bank One, and when JPMorgan Chase bought it in 2004, Dimon became president and COO, then CEO and chairman in 2005 and 2006.
POWER PLAY: It’s been a difficult year for banks generally but JPMorgan Chase had reason to cheer in the second quarter. Earnings rose 24 percent to $6.2 billion, and revenue jumped to an impressive $25.2 billion, leading some analysts to suggest that JPMorgan is on track to be the first bank in the U.S. to pass the $100 billion mark in revenue. And Dimon himself is reemerging as the business leader he was long known to be precrisis: In July it was revealed that he and Warren Buffett had been holding secret meetings with leaders across several industries to come up with a set of principles to guide public companies. Released in an open letter, the guidelines are being called the Dimon-Buffett Proposal.
2015 Ranking: 21
PATH TO POWER: The 86-year-old billionaire seemed destined for riches since childhood, first investing in stock at age 11. Making his first million at age 32 and his first billion in 1990, Buffett became involved with Omaha, Neb.–based conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, which now owns approximately 90 businesses, by investing in the company in the ’60s, then becoming chairman and CEO in 1970. Vowing to donate 99 percent of his immense fortune, Buffett gives annual gifts to charities including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and his own Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation (named for his first wife), which has helped fund women’s health research and accessibility to affordable birth control.
POWER PLAY: Alongside JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Buffett convened a secret meeting of some of the world’s most powerful executives, including GM’s Mary Barra, BlackRock’s Larry Fink and GE’s Jeff Immelt, to hammer out a new set of guiding principles for publicly traded companies. “Our future depends on companies being managed effectively for long-term prosperity, which is why the governance of American companies is so important,” an open letter from the group said. Some of their conclusions? Corporate boards must be “truly independent” and “our financial markets have become too obsessed with quarterly earnings forecasts.”
2015 Ranking: 20
PATH TO POWER: Roberts clerked for William Rehnquist soon after graduation from Harvard Law, and later served in the Reagan administration. He subsequently alternated between private practice and public service, then was nominated by President George W. Bush for a seat in the D.C. Circuit in 2001. Four years later, he replaced Rehnquist as chief justice.
POWER PLAY: Still reeling from Republican criticism over his vote to uphold Obamacare, Roberts delivered a powerful message in February at a New England Law event, warning of the dangers of partisanship in the Supreme Court: “We don’t work as Democrats or Republicans, and I think it’s a very unfortunate impression the public might get from the confirmation process.” Ten days later, Justice Antonin Scalia died, leaving a void in the judicial body and Senate Republicans refusing to even consider President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.
2015 Ranking: 13
PATH TO POWER: Hollande unseated Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France in 2012, following stints as mayor of Tulle and president of the General Council of Corrèze. A longtime member of the French Socialist Party who became its leader in 1997 while serving in the national assembly, Hollande campaigned as a “normal,” uncontroversial candidate, earning him the nickname “Monsieur Flanby,” after a bland, mass-market brand of flan.
POWER PLAY: Hollande remains highly unpopular and incredibly unlucky. Terrorist attacks in Paris and Nice have compounded an already difficult political environment in France, where economic growth is relatively stagnant. He was particularly criticized following the Nice massacre for failing to implement sufficient security measures after the earlier Paris attacks. With additional pressure from the eurozone to improve France’s economy and his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy running against him next year, Hollande has staked his own political future by promising to bow out of reelection if there isn’t sustained job growth. French unemployment finally fell below 10 percent recently for the first time since 2012.
2015 Ranking: 06
PATH TO POWER: Putin spent years in the shadows as a KGB lieutenant colonel. He was first appointed prime minister in 1999 and has been either prime minister or president ever since. He rules Russia with dictatorial authority: Since 2014, Russian forces and pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists have taken control of Eastern Ukraine and the key strategic peninsula of Crimea.
POWER PLAY: When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, the EU and U.S. implemented massive sanctions, depressing the value of the ruble more than 50 percent and causing the economy to grind to a halt. It hasn’t bounced back. Although the Russian stock market is up 50 percent over its 2014 low, there is still a recession. The Moscow Times has dubbed the eight years since the financial crisis a “lost decade.” Russia’s GDP shrank 3.7 percent in 2015. Yet Putin may be playing the long game: From acting as puppet master to Donald Trump and his erstwhile campaign executive Paul Manafort to hacking the DNC in an attempt to undermine the Democratic Party, Putin has demonstrated a willingness to interfere in American politics. And he’s cozying up to China as an economic partner. Putin’s endgame may not be clear yet, but he still has many pieces on the board.
2015 Ranking: 15
PATH TO POWER: Stumpf, a Minnesota native, earned his MBA from the University of Minnesota before joining Northwestern National Bank in Minneapolis. That bank became Norwest Corporation, which merged with Wells Fargo in 1998. Stumpf led regional divisions at Wells Fargo before being named group EVP of community banking in 2002. He became president in 2005, CEO in 2007 and chairman in 2010.
POWER PLAY: Wells Fargo weathered the financial crisis relatively well because of its focus on consumer rather than investment banking, and according to an April report from the Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Research, it’s the only major U.S. bank that’s become systemically more important over the last several years. According to the report, only four banks have become significantly more important, and the other three are based in China. It’s a testament to Stumpf’s leadership that Wells Fargo is doing well—stock prices have risen around 35 percent since he was appointed CEO. However, after being the only major bank whose 2014 “living will” wasn’t flawed, Wells Fargo’s will for 2015, essentially a contingency plan stating what it would do if the bank collapsed, was rejected by regulators in April of this year. And in September the bank took a big hit to its reputation, as well as its finances, when it was charged with a $185 million penalty after the CFPB cited it for creating fake customer accounts.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Stumpf’s power began to short-circuit soon after the October–November issue of Worth went to press, beginning with the revelation that, under pressure to meet aggressive sales goals, Wells Fargo employees created as many as 2 million bogus bank and credit card accounts for the bank’s customers. Fury from customers, regulators, lawmakers and former employees was swift and loud, and Wells Fargo was soon on the line for $185
2015 Ranking: 11
PATH TO POWER: Warren’s father had a heart attack when she was 12 and lost his janitorial job. To make ends meet, Warren started waiting tables the next year. She studied speech pathology at the University of Houston, then received her law degree from Rutgers in 1976. Warren taught at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and in 1995 became a professor at Harvard Law School. She was appointed to the TARP oversight committee in 2008, helped create the CFPB in 2010 and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012.
POWER PLAY: Although many on the left wanted Warren to run for president this year, she demurred, opting to exercise her considerable power from the sidelines. Warren criticized the SEC for permitting Steven Cohen to start a hedge fund, and she has continued to push for greater financial regulation and strengthening the CFPB. The Democratic platform calls for the creation of a modern version of the Glass-Steagall Act, a core position for Warren and fellow progressive Bernie Sanders. In fact, she’s so feared on Wall Street that many prominent Democratic donors told Hillary Clinton they would pull their backing if she tapped Warren as VP.
2015 Ranking: 17
PATH TO POWER: The son of a Polish father and American mother, Sanders was born in 1941 in Brooklyn. The Jewish American was an activist in the 1960s and moved to Vermont in 1964. His first taste of public office was in 1981, when he was elected mayor of Burlington. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1990 as an Independent, then to the Senate in 2006. Sanders caucuses with the Democrats, has called himself a Socialist and ran in the Democratic presidential primary.
POWER PLAY: Despite Hillary Clinton’s victory in the hard-fought presidential primary, Sanders didn’t really lose in 2016. He activated hordes of young voters with his calls for free college, greater financial regulation and election finance reform, and his candidacy forced Clinton to move to the left, particularly on economic issues. The Democratic Party platform that she’s now running on might as well have been written by Sanders.
PATH TO POWER: The son of a successful New York real estate developer, Trump took over the family business in 1971 and renamed it the Trump Organization. He has been putting his name on things ever since, from skyscrapers to hotels to golf courses, and his ability to garner attention led to a gig hosting the reality TV show The Apprentice from 2004 to 2015. Trump, who has been registered as Reform, Democratic, Independent and Republican at varying times over the years, announced his candidacy for president as a Republican in June 2015.
POWER PLAY: Trump’s unorthodox campaign and frequent inflammatory statements have fractured the GOP even as he has rallied alienated Americans. Trump has brought trade, immigration and globalization to the forefront as populist issues through proposals to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, force Mexico to build a border wall, ban Muslims from immigrating and wage a trade war with China. He also has spoken of restoring jobs to vanishing industries and boosting taxes on the rich—though in the first case, shunning specifics, and in the second contradicting himself in his written proposals. Trump’s power stems from his ability to channel the grievances of his devotees—but what happens if he actually wins?
2015 Ranking: 19
PATH TO POWER: A graduate of Yale and Harvard Business School, Schwarzman started his career at investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, then went to Lehman Brothers, where he helped create interest-rate swaps. He cofounded private equity firm Blackstone in 1985 with Peter G. Peterson. Blackstone now boasts $356 billion in AUM.
POWER PLAY: Schwarzman took home $734 million in 2015, a record year in which the firm reported profits of $3.84 billion, up 25 percent from the year before. The firm also paid out around $46 billion to shareholders and made some huge deals, including the $5.3 billion purchase of New York City’s Stuyvesant Town apartment complex. And a market slump going into 2016 has provided a new wave of buying opportunities.
PATH TO POWER: The Istanbul native grew up in an observant Muslim household. Erdoğan became involved in student politics while studying business at Marmara University—though there are doubts that he ever graduated. Participation in the Islamist Welfare Party earned him attention, and he was elected mayor of Istanbul in 1994. His use of Islamist rhetoric led to a brief prison term in 1999 and a ban from public office that was later reversed. He became prime minister in 2003, and slowly began moving the country away from its traditional secularism. He won the presidency in 2014.
POWER PLAY: The Syrian refugee crisis coincided with Erdoğan’s intensified efforts to have Turkey admitted into the EU. In March, he was able to strike a deal with the Europeans, working to slow the flow of refugees in exchange for 3 billion euros in aid, visa-free travel within Europe for Turkish citizens and a fast track to joining the EU. Though the latter could be hampered by a number of human rights violations and Erdoğan’s willingness to restore capital punishment, Erdoğan—who survived a coup attempt in July—seems to have cornered European leaders eager to stem the flow of refugees.
2015 Ranking: 63
PATH TO POWER: Clinton’s biography is familiar to most: a lawyer, an activist, a groundbreaking first lady during President Bill Clinton’s tenure who worked on public policy issues including healthcare. In 2000, she became the first woman to serve as a New York senator. Reelected in 2006, she ran for president in 2008, losing to Barack Obama. He named her secretary of state, a post she held until 2013. Last April, she announced her candidacy as a Democrat for the 2016 presidential election.
POWER PLAY: Not exactly a beloved figure—she’s been dogged for years by scandals both real and manufactured—Clinton remains a far more substantive thinker than gifted politician. Earlier this year, she beat back the unexpectly formidable challenge posed by Bernie Sanders, in part by coopting some of his biggest issues, from debt-free college to opposition to the TPP trade deal. Generally, she’s a supporter of international trade, advocates a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure, wants to raise taxes on the wealthy and supports a $12 (not $15, as many liberals do) federal minimum hourly wage. While critics label her a political opportunist, defenders point out that she has been working for the causes she believes in her entire professional life. If she wins the election, the question quickly becomes how much she could accomplish in a divided government.
2015 Ranking: 56
PATH TO POWER: California’s only four-term governor, Brown was elected in 1974 at age 36, served two terms, and was reelected in 2010 after a 28-year drought, which included three failed presidential bids and eight years as mayor of Oakland. At 78, he’s now the oldest individual to ever hold the office. Brown took a hard line on spending in the 1970s that led to a state budget surplus of $5 billion. But his fiscal conservatism is equally matched by his liberal social beliefs; he has appointed more women and minorities to office than any other California governor, and he named the first openly gay judge to the Los Angeles County Supreme Court in 1979. Brown’s final term as governor ends in 2019.
POWER PLAY: California is the world’s sixth-largest economy, which means economic and political moves there have global ramifications. When Brown took office in 2010, the state was facing a serious financial crisis and a dearth of economic leadership. Now, besides balancing California’s budget during his second tenure, Brown this year signed into law one bill that raises California’s minimum wage to $15 per hour and another that expands the state’s paid family leave and disability insurance benefits. He also oversaw the extension of California’s landmark climate change legislation to 2030, which would reduce carbon emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels. This summer Brown approved a $171 billion state budget that includes plans to increase funding for state-subsidized childcare, affordable housing and shelter for the homeless and mentally ill. And the potential last feather in the governor’s hat? A new program requiring businesses to offer retirement plans to all employees. At a time when the federal government is paralyzed by gridlock, Brown continues to demonstrate how to put a progressive economic agenda into action.
PATH TO POWER: A vicar’s daughter from Oxfordshire, May studied geography at Oxford before working in financial services. She entered local politics in 1986 as a councillor for the London Borough of Merton. May became a Conservative MP for Maidenhead in 1997 and rose through the ranks to chair of the party five years later. After holding several shadow cabinet positions, she was appointed home secretary in 2010 by then prime minister David Cameron. She replaced him as prime minister in July of this year.
POWER PLAY: May emerged on the world stage out of the turmoil created by the Brexit referendum. While Cameron equivocated before resigning and Boris Johnson abruptly bowed out of the race to replace him as prime minister, May was a voice of reason in a government fast becoming rudderless. Despite her support for the “remain” vote prior to the referendum and her failure to rein in immigration as home secretary, May presented herself as a forceful leader with a plan to abide by the vote to leave the EU and successfully navigate Brexit. She quickly became leader of the Tories and, thanks to Cameron’s resignation, prime minister of the UK. As she steers the world’s fifth-largest economy out of the EU, it remains to be seen if comparisons to Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel are fanciful or on target.
2015 Ranking: 51
PATH TO POWER: Luxembourg-born Juncker was appointed the country’s deputy minister of labor in 1982, at age 28. He became a member of parliament in 1984 and prime minister in 1995, a position he held for 18 years. He was also chair of the EU Council of Economic and Financial Affairs, and helped to create the euro. In 2004 he became the first president of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers. He became president of the European Commission in November 2014.
POWER PLAY: Many European leaders have called for Juncker’s resignation. He couldn’t keep the UK in the EU, the Greek debt crisis is bleeding Europe dry and almost a million Syrian refugees have flooded into the continent. But rather than give in to populism and nationalism, Juncker rails against the closure of borders and strangulating austerity, instead preaching a gospel of European unity. “In the concentration of globalization and European problems, we must not lose our way,” he warned in August. And in the tense standoff with Turkey over EU funds and visa-free travel in the Schengen Area, Juncker, ever the moderator, has steadfastly calmed both sides.
2015 Ranking: 05
PATH TO POWER: A native of Rome, Draghi graduated from Sapienza University and received his doctorate in economics from MIT. While teaching at the University of Florence in the ’80s and ’90s, he also became executive director of the World Bank and director general of the Italian Treasury. In 2002, he joined Goldman Sachs as managing director, a role he left after three years to lead the Bank of Italy. Draghi was chairman of the Financial Stability Board from 2006 to 2011 and was elected head of the ECB in 2011.
POWER PLAY: Flat inflation across the eurozone continues to be a drag on Draghi’s economic recovery plans. Despite a nearly $2 trillion stimulus package and interest rate cuts, nothing seems to be jolting the economy, widening the rift between the ECB head and his critics—particularly those in Germany, who worry about a potential bailout of Italian banks, cheap loans to Greek banks and the impact of low rates on German pensioners and savers. Still, Draghi remains unmoved by his detractors and points to other indicators such as a stronger euro, lower unemployment and rising consumer demand as signs that his policies can be effective.
2015 Ranking: 07
PATH TO POWER: The first woman to chair the U.S. Federal Reserve—appointed by President Obama in 2013—Yellen was raised in a Polish-Jewish family in Brooklyn, graduated summa cum laude in economics from Brown and in 1971 received a PhD in economics from Yale, the only woman in her class. Yellen went on to teach at Harvard, the London School of Economics and UC Berkeley. She was an economist with the Fed’s Board of Governors, chair of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, president and CEO of the San Francisco Fed and vice chair of the Fed before being confirmed to her current post, which she’ll hold until 2018.
POWER PLAY: The Fed raised interest rates in December 2015 for the first time since 2006—without creating a market freak-out, thanks in large part to Yellen’s deft management of expectations. On the heels of steady job growth this summer—with average job gains of 190,000 per month for May–July 2016—Yellen at an annual policy conference in August indicated the Fed would consider raising short-term rates again later this year, possibly at its December meeting after the presidential election. She also predicts hitting the inflation target of 2 percent “over the next one to two years.”
2015 Ranking: 02
PATH TO POWER: Obama’s early years were marked by a great variety of experiences: He grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, studied at two of the nation’s most elite institutions—Columbia and Harvard Law School—and worked as a community organizer in Chicago’s South Side. He became a professor at the University of Chicago Law School and was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996, then the U.S. Senate in 2004. In 2008 he was elected president, besting Hillary Clinton in a tough primary. As president he has presided over the economy’s recovery from the financial crash, strengthened bank regulations and pushed for the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.
POWER PLAY: In the final year of his presidency, Obama is faced with one major unfinished economic project: the TPP. The TPP would be the largest trade deal in history, encompassing 12 nations around the Pacific accounting for around 40 percent of global GDP, about $28 trillion. Populists on the left and right have been putting up a fight, arguing for protectionist and at times isolationist policies rather than free trade and global integration. It’s a sticky position: Donald Trump hyperbolically called the TPP “a rape of our country,” while Hillary Clinton has been forced to flip-flop, going from pushing for the TPP as secretary of state to now saying she would not support it. Even if the TPP isn’t approved by Congress, Obama still has plenty to crow about after eight years in the White House: The unemployment rate is below 5 percent for the first time since 2008 (it topped 10 percent during the crisis), U.S. GDP is growing at a healthy, if slow, 2.2 percent and the U.S. is one of the few safe havens for investors.
2015 Ranking: 03
PATH TO POWER: Merkel grew up in East Germany, where she studied physics and earned a doctorate in quantum chemistry at the University of Leipzig. Her doctoral studies coincided with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and she entered politics as part of the reunification movement. She was elected to the Bundestag in 1990 and eventually became leader of the CDU party. She became chancellor in 2005.
POWER PLAY: The influx of Syrian refugees into Europe and ISIS-related violence have been testing the strength of the European economy and its leaders. As one of the most powerful voices in the EU, Merkel’s position a year before she’s up for reelection is precarious. Faced with the possibility of international derision, she opened Germany’s borders to refugees—which rankled her fellow Germans and led to a rise in nationalist rhetoric fueled by fear of terrorist attacks. It also cornered her in negotiations with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has halted the migrant influx into Europe with steep conditions that are akin to diplomatic blackmail. How she proceeds with these issues and her ongoing bailout talks with Greece will determine whether she wins a fourth term—and continues to play a leading role in the EU.
2015 Ranking: 04
PATH TO POWER: Xi, 63, has spent more than 40 years in the Communist Party, rising to the nation’s top office in 2013. He’s also the CP’s general secretary, a role he assumed in 2012, which puts him in control of not just the government, but the party apparatus as well. Xi grew up in a family dedicated to the party; his father was a revolutionary who eventually became vice premier.
POWER PLAY: The past year has seen Xi consolidate power internally and become more bellicose internationally. He has been pushing the party to consolidate behind him, and state-run media regularly refer to him as the “core leader” of China—a reference to Deng Xiaoping who ruled, more or less unchecked, for more than a decade. Xi has been cracking down on corruption, though some say this is a cover for going after political rivals, and has been building airstrips in the contested South China Sea. He’s also pushing a new $890 billion Silk Road, dubbed “One Belt, One Road,” most of which is meant to be funded by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. If Xi succeeds in connecting China to Central Asia, Africa and Europe, as the project is intended to do, OBOR could act as a significant counterweight to U.S. designs in the Pacific with the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
2015 Ranking: 09
PATH TO POWER: The son of a low-caste tea seller in Gujarat, Modi’s rise to power has been as improbable as it’s been controversial. Born in 1950, Modi joined the RSS, a Hindu nationalist paramilitary organization, as a child. When he finished high school, he rejected an arranged marriage and traveled around the country living in ashrams before becoming an RSS organizer and studying political science at Delhi University. He entered politics in 1985 as an official of the BJP, the RSS’s political party, and became chief minister of Gujarat in 2001. The following year, Gujarat was rocked by anti-Muslim riots that resulted in 2,000 deaths, and accusations that Modi failed to stop the violence. Nevertheless, he was elected prime minister in 2014.
POWER PLAY: Sectarian politics aside, as prime minister Modi has been hailed as a pro-business, pro-development reformer. Although still plagued by poverty, India surpassed China as the world’s fastest-growing major economy in 2015 with a GDP growth rate of 7.5 percent. Also in the last year, the nation reformed its bankruptcy laws and opened up the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to greater foreign direct investment. And Modi signed the Paris climate accord, promising to increase investment in renewable energy, a huge step for a nation dependent on coal. Cementing India’s emergence on the international stage, Modi has developed an amicable relationship with President Obama and addressed Congress in June. While Europe struggles with Brexit, China with a shaky stock market, Brazil with rampant corruption and Russia with debilitating oligarchy, India has emerged as one of the world’s leading economies.
2015 Ranking: 18
PATH TO POWER: Raised in Van Nuys, Calif., Fink earned a BA and MBA from UCLA. He headed to New York to join First Boston, where he helped create the mortgage-backed securities market and at 31 became the youngest managing director in the firm’s history. But he went from “a star to a jerk,” he told Vanity Fair, when in 1986 he failed to predict the direction that interest rates were heading and his department lost $100 million. Fink was let go quite publicly, an event that would haunt him, though he later blamed the loss on a failure to understand risk. Determined to break with the past and perfect the art of risk management, he formed BlackRock in 1988 with $5 million in credit from Stephen Schwarzman’s Blackstone Group. The two parted ways contentiously in 1994—BlackRock already had $20 billion in AUM—and Fink would use a combination of organic growth and canny acquisitions to build his firm into the world’s largest asset manager. When financial markets melted down in 2008, Fink found himself the last man standing on Wall Street thanks to rock-solid financial footing and unparalleled specialization in risk management. Receiving no-bid contracts because BlackRock was seen as the only option, Fink took over management of $130 billion of Bear Stearns and AIG assets and oversaw the $5 trillion balance sheets of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on behalf of the U.S. government.
POWER PLAY: At the end of March 2016, BlackRock’s AUM were $4.74 trillion, roughly $1 trillion more than the federal budget and more than the GDP of Japan, Germany, the UK, France or India. BlackRock’s assets, in fact, are greater than the GDP of any nation in the world with the exceptions of China, the U.S. and the combined European Union. And its assets are growing: Investors poured $1.54 billion into the company in the second quarter of 2016 alone. BlackRock stock is trading near all-time highs with a market cap of around $61 billion while the world’s 20 biggest banks lost $465 billion in market value in the first half of 2016. ETFs and obsessive risk management may not be sexy, but even small decisions by the firm can have massive global impacts. BlackRock, for instance, told investors in September that it would start looking at climate change and political action around it as part of its risk management processes. And ETFs have risen in prominence over the last decade as active investing has suffered profound market shocks, positioning BlackRock, with its expertise in the area, as one of the most trusted institutions on Wall Street. It’s this trust that regulators, lawmakers and the Street place in Fink and BlackRock that makes him powerful. But he wields his power quietly; longtime observers have characterized him as “the Wizard of Oz,” reworking capitalism from behind the curtain. Fink, especially since the financial crisis, has been pushing for executives to take longer-term views, promoting stability and reducing global risk, two things that fundamentally benefit BlackRock and its clients. In February, he sent a letter to the executives of the S&P 500, calling on them to “invest in long-term growth.” Fink is also reportedly behind much of Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street policy, particularly her embrace of long-termism. And that influence could be institutionalized come the new year: Fink is said to be on a very short list of potential Treasury secretaries in a Clinton administration.
Click here for a Q&A with Fink.