Jane Fraser made a career cleaning up messes at Citigroup in Latin America, after the financial crisis and in mortgages.

Jane Fraser, a 16 year bank veteran and the newly named CEO, will soon have the task of leading America’s third-largest bank through the worst economic crisis in decades. Citigroup announced Ms. Fraser will succeed Michael Corbat as chief executive when he retires in February. She will be the first woman to lead Citigroup or any other major Wall Street bank and will join the board of directors immediately.

“Jane is tough as nails,” said John Gerspach, Citigroup’s retired longtime financial chief. “She’s an incredibly nice person but don’t confuse how she comes across with her ability to make the hard decisions.”

Ms. Fraser’s promotion is a huge step for women in the banking business and follows a trend of increasing women CEOs.

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Economics, Finance and Investing