Finance is still a male-dominated profession, especially at the top. But now women have more opportunities in the financial field, thanks in large part to women who pioneered the field.
If you want to take a leadership role in the financial sector and are looking for role models, here are 10 top female investors who have achieved great success—usually willing to stand out, take risks, and refuse to accept unacceptable answers.
- Although finance is still a male-dominated profession, because of the pioneers on this list, women now have more opportunities than before.
- The investment expertise of top female investors is diverse, ranging from mutual funds to private equity.
- Not all of these investment gurus started in the financial industry.
1. Geraldine Weiss, investment consultant
Geraldine Weiss is known as the “dividend lady”, she was one of the first women to become famous in the financial field and prove that women can be successful investors. She learns to invest by reading books, listening to her parents’ conversations, and studying business and finance at university.
Despite her studies, no investment company is interested in hiring her for more than just a secretary. Faced with rejection, she started her own investment newsletter at the age of 40 in 1966. In order to avoid further sex discrimination, Weiss wrote in her newsletter “G. Weiss.” It wasn’t until 1977 when she appeared as a guest on the popular PBS TV show “Wall Street Week and Louise Roukasser.” After achieving a record of consistent success, he revealed his identity.
Weiss’s value-based and dividend-oriented stock selection strategy is superior to the strategies recommended by other newsletters, and has achieved above-average returns even in poor market conditions. She published her newsletter, Investment quality trends, 37 years until her retirement in 2002. The newsletter still exists and still follows Weiss’ strategy.
2. Muriel Siebert, founder of brokerage business
Muriel Siebert never graduated from university, obtained an entry-level research position in the financial field, eventually became a partner, and founded the brokerage company Muriel Siebert & Co. in 1967. The process of her company’s registration on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) involved multiple rejections by men who refused to sponsor her application, as well as difficulties in obtaining the necessary financing to meet the exchange’s expensive admission requirements. She persisted, and her company became the first female-owned member of the New York Stock Exchange.
In 1975, after the federal government abolished the fixed commission for brokers, Siebert began to get involved in the discount brokerage business, which was a new concept at the time.
Sibert continues to bring her financial expertise into politics, which is another male-dominated field. Served as the head of the New York State Banking Department from 1977 to 1982, and was the first woman in this position, she helped prevent banks from failing in a turbulent market. As a Republican, she also ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Sibert passed away on August 24, 2013.
3. Abby Joseph Cohen, Portfolio Strategist
For decades, Abby Joseph Cohen has been a respected portfolio strategist. After serving as an economist at the Federal Reserve Board in 1973, Cohen worked as an economist and quantitative strategist at major financial companies including T. Rowe Price before joining Goldman Sachs in 1990. She became a partner in 1998. Her view of the bull market in the 1990s made her a star in the financial and media circles.
Cohen retired in 2018 as chief strategist and president of the Goldman Sachs Global Market Institute. She remains an advisory director and senior investment strategist.
Cohen has also held important positions in organizations such as Cornell University, the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Association, Major League Baseball, and the Committee on Foreign Relations.
4. Melody Hobson, CEO
Melody Hobson is the Co-CEO and President of Chicago-based Ariel Investments. She is a supporter of financial literacy and often appears on national television. time The magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2015.
Hobson is also chairman of Starbucks and a director of JPMorgan Chase. Before selling DreamWorks Animation to Comcast, she also served as the chairman of DreamWorks Animation and was a long-term board member of The Estée Lauder Companies.
Hobson has served as Ariel’s President since 2000 and was appointed as Co-CEO in 2019. She started her 30-year career at the company as a summer intern. She was hired by founder and co-CEO John W. Rogers Jr. (John W. Rogers Jr.) during her studies at Princeton University.
5. Abigail Johnson, CEO
Billionaire Abigail Johnson became President and CEO of Fidelity Investments in 2016 after serving as President and CEO in 2014. She is the daughter of Edward C. Johnson III, the former chairman of Fidelity, and the granddaughter of the company’s founder. She owns nearly 25% of the company and her net worth (as of August 2021) is estimated to be approximately US$23.5 billion.
There is no doubt that being born in the right family helped Johnson achieve what he is today. In other words, as one of the largest mutual fund companies, as of 2021, with assets under management (AUM) of nearly US$4.2 trillion and with a history of 75 years, Fidelity faces too many risks to appoint someone by name alone responsible. Johnson received an MBA from Harvard University, worked as a customer service representative, an analyst, and worked as a stock portfolio manager at Fidelity for about ten years before getting her first executive position there.
6. Lubna Olayan, private investor
Before retiring in 2019, private investor Lubna Olayan served as CEO of Saudi Arabia-based Olayan Financing Company Riyadh, the Middle East branch of the global investment company Olayan Group. Olayan is one of the most famous companies in Saudi Arabia, and its investment portfolio focuses on public equity, private equity and real estate.
Olayan entered the family business in 1947—her father founded a truck business in 1947—in the early 1980s, when Saudi female jobs were not common or accepted by society, let alone working in a company . As a champion of women in the workplace, she employs hundreds of women.
In addition to her high-profile positions at Olaya Financing, she became the first female board member of a Saudi listed company when she joined Saudi ABN AMRO in 2004. She also served as a member of the board of directors of the Egyptian financial company and investment bank Capital. Most recently, she became Chairman of the Saudi Bank of England in 2019 and served as Chairman of Alawwal Bank.
7. Deborah Farrington, venture capitalist
Deborah Farrington is the co-founder and managing partner of StarVest Partners, a venture capital firm headquartered in New York City. She is one of the pioneers of investing in software as a service (SaaS). Founded in 1998, StarVest is one of the largest female-majority venture capital firms in the United States
StarVest is an early and major investor in NetSuite. Farrington served as NetSuite’s chief director and chairman of the compensation committee until it was sold to Oracle for $9.4 billion in 2016.
She has been listed many times Forbes‘Midas List, a ranking of top venture capitalists. In 2018, Farrington was awarded the Foreign Policy Association’s Centennial Financial Service Achievement Medal. Like Johnson, she received an MBA from Harvard Business School.
8. Sonal Desai, PhD, Chief Information Officer
As the Chief Investment Officer (CIO) of Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group, Sonal Desai manages up to $157 billion in fixed income assets. She joined Templeton in 2009 as the director of global macro research and in 2018 as the chief information officer.
Desai started his career in academia and later became an economist before working in the financial industry. After obtaining a doctorate. At Northwestern University, Desai taught economics at the University of Pittsburgh, but out of a desire to formulate policies, she joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the 1990s. In 2000, Desai transformed again and worked in an investment bank and a hedge fund before joining Templeton.
9. Suzanne Shank, CEO
Suzanne Shank co-founded Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co., which became the first minority and/or women-owned business (MWBE) to become the top 10 municipal bond underwriters in the United States. In 2019, the company she founded (and served as Chairman and CEO) merged with Williams Capital Group to form Siebert Williams Shank & Co., where she served as CEO.
Shank first studied STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, and then received an MBA in finance from the Wharton School of Business. After graduating from the Wharton School of Business, Shank gained experience in a number of Wall Street companies before starting her company.
Shank is also passionate about inspiring and supporting the next generation of black investors. She is currently a member of the Wharton Graduate Executive Committee and the Spelman School Board of Directors, where she focuses on providing opportunities for underrepresented minorities.
10. Dawn Fitzpatrick, Chief Information Officer
As the chief information officer of Soros Fund Management, Dawn Fitzpatrick manages the wealth of billionaire philanthropist and legendary hedge fund manager George Soros, his family, and foundations.
Fitzpatrick began her financial career at O’Connor & Associates in the 1990s as a staff member of the American Stock Exchange until finally promoted to lead the company. O’Connor was acquired by UBS and became the bank’s internal hedge fund. Before joining Soros in 2017, she worked at UBS for 25 years and became one of the few women managing large hedge funds.
Many women in finance still face gender discrimination and low salaries for equivalent jobs. However, compared to when Weiss, Siebert, and Cohen entered the field, there are fewer barriers and more choices today.