The Firing of Zoe Cruz, the Banker Formerly Known as the Mos

by Derek Loosvelt | April 29, 2008

  • My Vault
New York magazine's cover story this week, "Only the Men Survive," takes readers inside the rise and fall of Zoe Cruz, the former co-president of Morgan Stanley who, before her firing, had been considered the most powerful woman on Wall Street.

Last November, in the middle of the subprime mortgage crisis, Cruz, 52, was called into the office of her former mentor, Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack, and promptly fired. Ten minutes later, she left Morgan Stanley's headquarters, and never returned.

New York tracks Cruz's hard-won path from recent Harvard MBA grad to second-in-command of one of the most prestigious financial companies on the planet (and to 16th most powerful woman in the world, according to Forbes). It also gives a detailed view of how the mortgage crisis played out at Morgan Stanley, including how Cruz saved the firm from experiencing even deeper losses.

In addition, the piece attempts to address why there are so few women at the top of Wall Street firms, and breaks down the remaining female upper echelon on Wall Street—or, rather, the lack thereof.

According to New York, "Goldman has three women on its management committee of 29, but only one of those positions wields any real power—the others are general counsel and a hedge-fund liaison. Similarly, the two women in upper management at Merrill Lynch work in public affairs and as general counsel. Respectable jobs, certainly, but not jobs that lead to CEO. Citigroup’s Sallie Krawcheck was recently moved from CFO to a less high-profile position. Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers have one woman each in upper management, JPMorgan has two, Credit Suisse has none."

Ultimately, according to New York, it wasn't Cruz's sex that did her in but Mack who was responsible for her demise, firing her because someone had to take the fall for the firm's losses and he decided better her head than his. (His nickname "Mack the Knife" is not for nothing.)

Filed Under: Finance

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