"She is one of the most important people at that company," said Alan Kline, the editor of U.S. Banker (which, like American Banker, is published by SourceMedia Inc.).
Tolstedt's title is somewhat misleading, Kline said. She oversees Wells' network of 6,600 branches, which employ 120,000 people in 39 states and the District of Columbia, an operation that dwarfs many stand-alone banks.
The women on the 2010 list are noteworthy not only for their prominent roles within the financial services industry, but also for their commitment to mentoring. If there's one unifying quality among the group, it's their desire to help other women achieve great things, Kline said.
"It's pretty clear that mentoring is pretty important, to make sure that these women who show a lot of promise don't fall off their career path," he said.
The executives on the list will be honored at a dinner at the Pierre Hotel in New York on Oct. 6. Meredith Whitney, chief executive of the research and advisory firm Meredith Whitney Advisory Group LLC, will give the keynote address. Tolstedt will also speak at the event, along with Lifetime Achievement honorees Yasmin Bates-Brown, former executive vice president of community affairs and economic development at Bank of Montreal's Harris Bank in Chicago and Diane Thormodsgard, former vice chairman and head of wealth and securities services at U.S. Bancorp.
Compiled by the editors at U.S. Banker, American Banker and Bank Technology News, the annual rankings highlight women who are accomplished in their careers and dedicated to their communities.
Tolstedt is no stranger to the list, having made the top 25 five times since U.S. Banker began publishing the rankings in 2003. The Wells Fargo executive has been in the top five for the past three years.
She took the top spot from Heidi Miller of JPMorgan Chase & Co., who after topping the list for the past three years is one of 25 Women to Watch this year since she started a new job in June overseeing the company's international expansion efforts. (Women must be in their respective positions for at least a year to be eligible for the top 25.) Miller was formerly head of treasury and securities services at JPMorgan Chase.
Coming in at No. 2 is Deanna Oppenheimer, the CEO of U.K. retail banking and vice chairman of global retail banking at Barclays PLC. Oppenheimer was No. 7 last year.
Karen Peetz, senior executive vice president and CEO of financial markets and treasury services at Bank of New York Mellon Corp., slipped from the No. 2 slot to No. 3.
After taking a year off from banking in 2008, and subsequently falling out of the top 25 rankings last year, Sallie Krawcheck, now president of global wealth and investment management at Bank of America Corp., is back on the list at No. 4.
Pamela Joseph, vice chairman of payment services at U.S. Bancorp, who has been among the top 10 most powerful women in banking for the past three years, ranked fifth on this year's list.
Rounding out the top 10 are Mary Callahan Erdoes, the CEO of JPMorgan Asset Management; Cara Heiden, co-president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage; Peyton Patterson, chairman and CEO of NewAlliance Bancshares Inc.; Julie Monaco, North American managing director of Citigroup Inc.'s global transaction services business; and Donna Demaio, chairman, president and CEO of MetLife Inc.'s bank unit.