The Business On: Sally Tennant, Chief executive, Kleinwort Benson

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The Independent Online

Good God, a female in the boardroom. Whatever next?

Yes, it's true, while the City's reputation has seldom been lower, at least glass ceilings are being broken. Sally Tennant is the latest businesswoman to have created some sizeable glass shards by taking command as chief executive of the posh private bank, Kleinwort Benson.



But, but, but it's indecent.

Yes, amazingly, that sort of reaction has not yet been eliminated from the world of banking, and particularly private banking. For the uninitiated, that's where you go if your account is stuffed full of cash. Kleinwort Benson sounds very British and clubby and private bank-like. But it has actually passed through a number of owners in recent years and is now part of RJHI, a Belgian company.



So how has she done it?

By playing the game and being good at her job. In private banking it pays to have ticks in the right boxes and that is what Ms Tennant has. She was shattering glass ceilings from the off as the first woman to grace SG Warburg's graduate trainee scheme. Other highlights include a role in turning round Schroders Private Bank. She was hired from Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch, a Swiss private bank, whose London operations she ran.



Crikey

Indeed. She has also worked at the fund manager Gartmore and at Morgan Grenfell, the investment bank purchased by Deutsche Bank, as well as spending some time running her own business. Oh, and her husband is a classical violinist and conductors' agent.



So what can the City expect?

A lot of energy, which will be needed. Private banking and wealth management are currently buzzwords in financial services: everybody wants a piece of the pie and it's not hard to see why. Private banks' clients are wealthy and banks tend to be quite good at relieving those clients of cash. The business is a great money-spinner – and one that attracts relatively little attention from politicians or regulators. That gets bankers really excited.

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