Roger Ferguson, a top Black Wall Street exec who manages $1 trillion, steps down

Roger Ferguson, one of the most powerful Black executives on Wall Street and in corporate America, is retiring as the CEO of TIAA.

Posted Updated

Matt Egan
, CNN Business
CNN — Roger Ferguson, one of the most powerful Black executives on Wall Street and in corporate America, is retiring as the CEO of TIAA.

The 69-year-old Ferguson, who has been at the helm of the $1 trillion money manager for a dozen years, has been floated as a potential Cabinet selection in the Biden administration. Before joining the private sector, Ferguson helped coordinate the Federal Reserve's response to the 9/11 terror attacks.

TIAA said its board and Ferguson agreed it's an "appropriate time to identify a successor." Ferguson's retirement is scheduled for the end of March.

"It's the responsible thing to do for this great company," Ferguson said in a statement.

Ferguson, who led TIAA through the 2008 financial crisis, is one of the only Black CEOs of a major US corporation. After he steps down, there will only be three Black CEOs in the Fortune 500: Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, Lowe's CEO Marvin Ellison and M&T Bank CEO Rene Jones, according to Fortune.

President-elect Joe Biden has indicated he will prioritize diversity, promising to build a Cabinet that will "look like America." Ferguson has been floated as a potential Treasury secretary.

There is a staggering lack of diversity among America's financial regulators, meaning minorities have been largely excluded from crucial decisions about the capitalist system.

Even though Black people make up 13.4% of the US population, over the last 70 years they have captured just 3% of political appointments at the SEC, FDIC, Federal Reserve and other pivotal financial agencies, according to research published in September by the Brookings Institution.

Ferguson is one of just 10 Black Americans with experience leading a US financial regulator. In 1997, he was tapped by President Bill Clinton to join the Federal Reserve Board. He became vice chair in 1999.

Ferguson played a pivotal role during one of the biggest shocks to the financial system in modern history: the 9/11 terror attacks. As the only Fed governor in Washington that day, Ferguson led the Fed's initial response to the crisis, coordinating the central bank's efforts to calm panicked financial markets.

At TIAA, Ferguson helped raise the profile of the low-key firm. TIAA added nearly a million new retirement clients and more than doubled its assets under management, making it one of the biggest players in the space. Ferguson also made a big M&A splash when TIAA acquired Nuveen Investments in 2014 for $6.25 billion.

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