SVB had NO head of ‘risk assessment’ for nine months, busy organizing a month-long Pride campaign and a ‘Lesbian Visibility Day’
Collapsed lender Silicon Valley Bank operated without a chief risk officer between April 2022 and January 2023 while the operation’s United Kingdom-based CRO stands accused of prioritizing pro-diversity initiatives over her actual role.
This revelation comes after the firm became the largest bank to collapse since the 2008 financial crisis – disclosing a $1.8 billion loss in its finances.
SVB’s former head of risk, Laura Izurieta, who formerly performed a similar role for Capital One, left the bank in April 2022. She wasn’t replaced until January 2023 when the bank hired Kim Olson, formerly of Japanese bank Sumitomo Mitsui.
The bank announced Olson’s hiring in January with a press release saying she brought ‘thirty years of financial services experience.’
‘SVB has an impressive track record of sound growth and remaining true to its strategy of serving the innovation economy. I am excited to lead SVB’s outstanding risk management team and continue to build SVB’s risk management framework and capabilities in this important next chapter of the firm’s trajectory,’ Olson said at the time.
The bank’s CEO Greg Becker credited Olson’s ‘deep and multi-faceted financial services experience as a senior risk leader and former regulator and bank supervisor positions her perfectly to actively manage SVB’s financial and non-financial risks.’
The bank’s website says that the CRO at the bank reports to a seven-person committee made up of board members and the CEO.
Meanwhile, Jay Ersapah, who acts as CRO for the bank in Europe, Africa and the Middle East and who describes herself as a ‘queer person of color from a working-class background’ – organized a host of LGBTQ initiatives including a month-long Pride campaign and implemented ‘safe space’ catch-ups for staff.
In a corporate video published just nine months ago, she said she ‘could not be prouder’ to work for SVB serving ‘underrepresented entrepreneurs.’
Professional network Outstanding listed Ersapah as a top 100 LGTBQ Future Leader.
‘Jay is a leading figure for the bank’s awareness activities including being a panelist at the SVB’s Global Pride townhall to share her experiences as a lesbian of color, moderating SVB’s EMEA Pride townhall and was instrumental in initiating the organization’s first ever global “safe space catch-up”, supporting employees in sharing their experiences of coming out,’ her bio on the Outstanding website states.
It adds that she is ‘allies’ with gay rights charity Stonewall and had authored numerous articles to promote LGBTQ awareness.
These included ‘Lesbian Visibility Day and Trans Awareness week.’
Separately she was also praised in a Facebook post by the group ‘Diversity Role Models,’ a charity which campaigns against homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in UK schools.
In a corporate document for the bank she said: ‘”You can’t be what you can’t see” has always been a quote that stuck with me.
‘As a queer person of color and a first generation immigrant from a working class background, there were not many role models for me to ‘see’ growing up.
‘I feel privileged to help spread awareness of lived queer experiences, partner with charitable organizations, and above all create a sense of community for our LGBTQ+ employees and allies.’
Ersapah hails from the UK where she studied an undergraduate Economics degree at the University of Warwick.
She has worked for several high-profile names in the finance sector including Citi, Barclays and consultancy firm Deloitte, according to her Linkedin profile.
She describes herself as having ‘proven competency in demanding roles.’
Her profile also boasts of her ‘interpersonal skills,’ ‘growth mindset’ and ability to lead ‘high-performing teams.’
Last year she featured in a corporate SVB video which purported its pro-LGBTQ credentials.