Top 10 Most Influential Women in Wealth Management

Women are achieving increased prominence and power in the world of finance, not least in the universe of wealth management. Barron’s latest list of 100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance includes 10 leaders in wealth management, including

Morgan Stanley’s

Carla Harris
and Ellevest’s
Sallie Krawcheck.

Barron’s master list is made up of top executives at some of the nation’s largest banks and brokerages, investment managers and securities analysts, and public servants and policy makers. Barron’s Advisor sliced the list to feature 10 women who are leaders in the wealth management industry, either because they advise individual investors (directly or through a digital platform they’ve created), or hold a leadership role at a wealth management firm. 

Top row: Sallie Krawcheck, Stephanie Cohen, Carla Harris, Penny Pennington, Liz Ann Sonders. Bottom row: Karen McDonald, Ida Liu, Mary Callahan Erdoes, Gunjan Kedia, Christine Benz.

This isn’t a quantitative ranking, rather a qualitative look at 10 women who had significant impact on the world of wealth management in the past year:

Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and founder of digital investing platform Ellevest.

The past year was “easily the most stressful of my career,” Krawcheck says, “and I say that having gone through [recessions] at large financial institutions. But there’s something different about going through volatility at a start-up that is not yet profitable.”

Stephanie Cohen, co-head of consumer and wealth management at

Goldman Sachs.


The consumer business at Goldman generated $1.2 billion in revenue last year and the division overall took in $6 billion, or 13% of Goldman’s total. Says Cohen: “We’re just getting started.”

Carla Harris, vice chairman, global wealth management, senior client advisor, Morgan Stanley.

While Harris isn’t logging as many business travel miles as she was before the pandemic, she has been using some of her found time to finish up her third book, release an album of Christmas songs, and grow Morgan Stanley’s accelerator for start-ups, the Multicultural Innovation Lab.

Penny Pennington, managing partner, Edward Jones

Pennington spent 14 years in corporate banking before joining Edward Jones as a financial advisor in Michigan in 2000. She eventually moved to corporate headquarters in St. Louis, became a principal, and climbed the ladder, taking over the client strategies group in 2015.

Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist, Charles Schwab

Sonders says she is “always trying to weave in a basis of history” when addressing investors. That’s particularly important for younger traders or new investors, she says. 

Karen McDonald, financial advisor and managing director at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

Despite the unique challenges presented by the pandemic, McDonald’s team’s assets and revenue rose about 35% in 2020. She is ranked fifth on this year’s list of Top 100 advisors for 2021. “We have built such a strong team culture that it really has allowed us to thrive,” she says.

Ida Liu,


global head of private banking.

Liu has been in this position since May 2019, leading private banking activities across the U.S. and Canada. That business advises ultrahigh net worth clients on about $550 billion in assets. It has delivered double-digit revenue growth and record client acquisition annually since Liu took its helm.

Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO,

J.P. Morgan

Asset and Wealth Management.

When the signal went out last spring to go home to work, Erdoes mobilized 25,000 employees in her division to make a quick switch to remote working. “It’s a real testament to the people who are not always celebrated,” says Erdoes, who joined JPMorgan Chase in 1996 and has held her current role for 11 years. In a May Barron’s column, she covers 10 themes that will define the future of wealth management.

Gunjan Kedia, vice chair, U.S. Bancorp’s wealth management and investment services division.

Kedia tells Barron’s, “I came to the U.S. after finishing my engineering [degree] in India. I would not at all have imagined at that point that I would end up leading a wealth management business, because we had no wealth at all to speak of—but it’s a very classic American immigrant story.”

Christine Benz, personal finance columnist,


Benz, who started with Morningstar in 1993 as a copy editor and took on her current role in 2008, has made educating the average investor the central goal of her 28-year career in finance.

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