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Power 100 Q&A: Marianne Lake

I am better at my job for being a mother and vice versa

Marianne Lake Marianne Lake // CFO, JPMorgan Chase

Named the 53rd most powerful person in finance in on the Worth 2015 Power 100

Q: You’re going to start leading the JPMorgan earnings calls. Does taking on that role have any larger significance?

A: I already lead the earnings call, and I wouldn’t over- think that. The reality is [CEO] Jamie [Dimon] enjoys and values engaging with our investors and so will likely continue participating in the calls as often as possible. Now and then it may be difficult for him to attend, and when that happens, we don’t want folks reading too much into that. I have been involved in our earnings process for many years. It’s a role I am very comfortable with.

What’s the biggest challenge facing JPMorgan right now?

I put the biggest challenges in three categories: managing and navigating unpredictable geopolitical and macroeconomic environments; the ever-evolving threat of cyber attacks; and making sure that in this world of innovation—especially in the digital and payments space—we are the disruptor, not the disrupted. Another thing to be generally concerned about is the potential for more significant market dislocations and iliquidity in the next crisis. Perhaps even more than this last go-round. There is new market infrastructure, changes in market participants and their behaviors, and ongoing implementation of post-crisis regulation.

There are so few women in finance. Does being one of them ever feel like a burden?

It isn’t so much that there are so few women in finance in total, but rather few women in senior leadership roles. It is a real problem that we all need to focus on every day, but it is not a burden. It is an opportunity. To the extent that I can serve as a role model or mentor for other women in what might be traditionally viewed as a male-dominated field, I welcome that.

When you were growing up, did you dream of working in finance?

Not at all, but I always aimed high—it was something my mother instilled in me from a very early age—so I didn’t believe I had many limitations. If I said I wanted to be a doctor, she would say, “That is great and I would be so proud of you…but did you consider being a brain surgeon?”

It’s notoriously tough to balance work and life in the financial industry. Has that ever been a struggle for you?

I’m the mother of three young children now! Of course it isn’t easy, but both sides of my life are incredibly rewarding, so it is worth making it work. I am better at my job for being a mother and vice versa. I will always need to compromise and make choices—you just have to work hard at making the right choice day by day. When push comes to shove, my children always come first, and I am lucky that I work in an environment that respects that.

Some industry observers argue that JPMorgan should be broken up. Is there any circumstance where you might consider that to be the right move?

We get significant benefits from both diversification and scale, which has led to consistently strong absolute and relative performance. Scale has always defined the winner in banking, and we have it in all aspects, because that is what our clients want and that is how we can best serve them. If we were not faced with those facts and a different model was called for, we would not be complacent. But that is not the case today.

What do you do for fun?

I have three kids under 4—I sleep.

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