UBS's C-suite just got more diverse.
Sarah Youngwood, a JPMorgan Chase veteran, has been named UBS group’s chief financial officer. The French-American banker will join the executive board of the Swiss institution in March and will have a two-month onboarding period with current CFO Kirt Gardner, who plans to step down in May “to pursue other opportunities.”
An ESCP Business School alumna, Youngwood has spent almost a quarter of a century at JPMorgan in Paris, London and New York. She began her career at America’s largest bank as an analyst, and carried out a steady ascent to become the CFO of the consumer and community banking division in 2016.
Ralph Hamers, CEO of UBS, said that adding gender and ethnic diversity to the team is one of his priorities. In May, Barbara Levi, from Anglo-Australian multinational Rio Tinto, became UBS general counsel. Now comes Youngwood, who spent her 24-year career at rival JPMorgan Chase.
Poaching her is a smart catch. She will be the fourth woman on the bank’s 12-member board and a rare female appointment in the highest echelons of European finance. Only 8% of chief executives of European credit and investment institutions are women, and only a fifth of top jobs of the largest banks are held by women. Among her peers are Alison Rose and Kathy Murray, NatWest Group CEO and CFO, respectively, and Ana Botin, Banco Santander’s chairperson.“The European landscape is beginning to include more women, but progress is still too slow,” write Frank Elderson and Elizabeth McCaul, two members of the supervisory board of the European Central Bank.
Youngwood brings technological expertise to her new role. At JPMorgan, she oversaw the Diversity and Inclusion team as well as the Global Technology unit. The latter will help UBS extend its reach toward a wider US client base. The bank is expected to launch a digital investment platform in America later this year that will focus on “less affluent” households—customers with $250,000 to $2 million assets. Youngwood will know how to catch their interest.