Muriel Siebert


Muriel Siebert

Muriel “Mickie” Siebert, (born February 11, 1932 in Cleveland, Ohio), and known as "The First Woman of Finance", was the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and the first woman to head one of its member firms. Her struggle to obtain that seat – and join the 1365 male members of the exchange – culminated successfully on December 28, 1967. Siebert has been a vocal advocate for women in finance and industry throughout her career.

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Career

Siebert began her career working at various brokerages, including the legendary Robert Brimberg's ("Scarsdale Fats") Brimberg & Co.[1] In 1967, Siebert founded her own firm, Muriel Siebert & Co., Inc., beginning by doing research for institutions and buying and selling financial analyses.

That same year, she applied for a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. Despite her experience and success – Siebert had been a partner at two leading brokerages, Finkle & Co. as well as Brimberg and Co., and earned large sums for colleagues – she met with ridicule and hostility. Among the first ten men she asked to sponsor her application, nine said no.

In addition, the NYSE itself insisted on a new condition before considering Siebert's application. It insisted that Siebert obtain a letter from a bank offering loans of $300,000 on the near-record $445,000 seat price. But banks would not commit to lend her the money until the NYSE would agree to admit her. It took many months to overcome this double-bind and find the needed bank loans and sponsors. Muriel Siebert finally was elected to membership on December 28, 1967.

In 1975, when the Securities and Exchange Commission first permitted broker commissions to be negotiable, she criticized the discount brokers vehemently; she ran numerous ads calling the discounters and the rates "low ball'. In 1977, Siebert became the Superintendent of Banks for the State of New York, with oversight of all of the banks in the state, regulating about $500 billion. Not one bank failed during her tenure, despite failures nationwide.

Shortly after returning to her firm, she ran in the Republican primary for the Senate seat of Daniel Patrick Moynihan. She finished second behind State Assemblywoman Florence Sullivan, who went on to lose to Moynihan in November.

In the mid-1990s, Siebert & Co. merged into a furniture holding company, J. Michael & Sons, that was liquidating, thereby becoming a publicly-traded company.

Siebert remains President of her eponymous firm, and continues to comment on phenomena in financial markets.[2]

Advocacy and philanthropy

Siebert often speaks as an advocate for women in industry. For example, "American business will find that women executives can be a strong competitive weapon against Japan and Germany and other countries that still limit their executive talent pool to the male 50 percent of their population."[3]

Additionally, "The men at the top of industry and government should be more willing to risk sharing leadership with women and minority members who are not merely clones of their white male buddies. In these fast-changing times we need the different viewpoints and experiences, we need the enlarged talent bank. The real risk lies in continuing to do things the way they've always been done."[3]

In 1990 she created the Siebert Entrepreneurial Philanthropic Plan, through which she shares half of her firm's profits from new securities underwriting with charities of the issuers' choices. The program offers buyers of new securities a chance to help charities in their communities. Through 2006, more than $5 million has been contributed through this program.

She served as president of the New York Women's Agenda in 1998. During her term NYWA developed a program advocating "Financial Literacy for Women" which continues today.

Honors

In honor of Siebert's 30th anniversary on the New York Stock Exchange, she rang the closing bell on January 5, 1998. Likewise, on December 28, 2007, exactly 40 years after her election to the membership of the New York Stock Exchange, she rang the closing bell in celebration.

Siebert is a member of the National Women's Hall of Fame, and was interviewed in the 2003 documentary Risk/Reward. She has been awarded 17 honorary doctorates.

Ms. Siebert was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 2009.

Ms. Siebert was honored at Wagner College during the 123rd Graduation Ceremony on May 21, 2010 with an Honorary Doctorate.

References

  1. ^ Muriel Siebert, Changing the Rules – Adventures of a Wall Street Maverick, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002.
  2. ^ Gretchen Morgenson, "Fair Game: Why the Roller Coaster Seems Wilder, New York Times, Business/Your Money Section, August 26, 2007, http://select.nytimes.com/2007/08/26/business/yourmoney/26gret.html.
  3. ^ a b Muriel Siebert, First Woman of Finance, Muriel Siebert & Co. website, retrieved January 18, 2010

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