In honor of National Women’s History Month, I thought I would highlight some influential women in finance that you may not know about. This year has been an incredible one for women breaking down barriers, from Whitney Wolfe becoming the youngest self-made female billionaire after taking her company public, to the election of the first woman to Vice President of the United States, this year is certainly giving women things to celebrate.
- Abigail Adams (1744-1818) – You may remember her as the wife of John Adams and First Lady of the United States, but you may not be aware that she is also one of the first documented female investors in history. During the Revolutionary War, John Adams’ finances and the family farm were placed in her hands, and, despite John Adams advising her to invest in farmland, she ignored her husband’s advice and instead invested in US government bonds. Using her “own pocket money”, a portion of both her and John’s money, she continued to purchase government and war bonds. This was a way for her to keep control of her own money, as at the time women were not allowed to manage their own property. Over time, her investments brought her a return of more than 400%. She used that money to help other out other women in need, including her sister.
- Hetty Green (1834-1916) – Hetty Green inherited her family’s vast fortune once her father passed away and managed her own money, becoming Wall Street’s first female tycoon. This did not come as a surprise, as when she was 13 she took over accounting for her family’s business, and when she was 20 her father bought her a wardrobe full of the finest dresses of the season, which she promptly sold to purchase government bonds. After her husband passed away, she would wear mourning clothes and a veil, earning her the nickname the “Witch of Wall Street”. She was known for being miserly, conservatively investing and only loaning money, never borrowing. She wouldn’t seek medical care for herself or her children due to the cost, and move frequently between cheap housing. This reputation etched her name in history as the “World’s Greatest Miser” in the Guinness Book of World Records. By the time she passed away in 1916, she had taken her $6 million dollar inheritance and invested it into real estate, stocks and bonds, creating a fortune of upwards of $2 billion (in today’s dollars), making her the richest woman in the world.
- Muriel “Mickie” Siebert (1932-2013) – Siebert became the first woman to own a seat on the NYSE on December 28, 1967. She often jokes that her NYSE member badge was the most expensive piece of jewelry she ever bought, and the hardest earned. Not afraid of hearing the word no, Siebert was turned down by 9 prospective sponsors before finding the two required to endorse her application. The lone woman among 1,365 men, Siebert faced tough challenges both on Wall Street and in the media, and she fought for gender equality throughout her career. In 1977, she became the first woman to become Superintendent of Banking for New York State and served for 5 years as banks struggled and interest rates rose. Though she may have been the first woman, she was determined to not be the only. She was constantly in search of ways to invest in and prop up other women, as well as lobbying against discriminatory policies. Through her firm, Muriel Siebert & Co, she established the Siebert Entrepreneurial/Philanthropic Plan (SEPP), which donates to charity 50% of the net commission revenue the firm earns on sales of new-issue equity, municipal and government bond. In addition to supporting causes she believes in, she was also generous with her time and expertise, serving on numerous community boards. By the time she passed away in 2013, she had made it possible for thousands of women to work on Wall Street.
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The assertions and statements in this blog post are based on the opinions of the author and Liquid Strategies. The examples cited in this paper are based on hypothetical situations and should only be considered as examples of potential trading strategies. They do not take into consideration the impact that certain economic or market factors have on the decision making process. Past performance is no indication of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss.