The top 5 most influential women in the finance world

December 20, 2023  |  Scalable Capital
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There are more and more women in finance. We are zooming in on the pioneers and the most influential among them.

When people are asked to name famous investors, the names that come to mind most are men, like Warren Buffet or Daniel Kahneman —our list of grand masters of the stock market is no exception. But it's a mistake to think that the world of finance is all about men. Many women in finance have had an influence on the history of money, such as the Watanabe women in Japan. They were named after a very common surname in the archipelago, which appeared in the early 2000s in response to very low interest rates. By investing, first in currency trading and then on the global markets, these women have helped to stabilise fluctuations in the yen! More recently, a similar movement called Mmes Gupta has emerged in India. But alongside these movements, some outstanding personalities have also emerged. Here we present 5 inspiring women from the world of finance.

Top 5 women in finance

Geraldine Weiss - the Grande Dame of dividends

Geraldine Weiss undoubtedly opened the doors of finance to many women in the 1960s. At the time, she couldn't find a job as an investor simply because she was a woman. To overcome this difficulty, she decided to create a newsletter in 1966: Investment Quality Trends. It was simply signed with the initial G, to keep the author's identity ambiguous. The main strategy put forward by Geraldine Weiss was to invest in stocks offering a high level of dividends. Her idea was that high dividends were a good indicator of a healthy stock price. At the time, her method proved more effective than those proposed by other newsletters. Geraldine Weiss continued to publish anonymously for over 10 years before revealing her identity in 1977. She retired in 2002 after 36 years of analysis for Investment Quality Trends. Over the years, she acquired nicknames such as ‘the Grande Dame of dividends’ and ‘the dividend detective’.

Muriel Siebert - the first woman in finance

Like Geraldine Weiss, Muriel Siebert entered the world of finance in the 1960s, first working for a number of brokerage houses and then launching her own business in 1967: Muriel Siebert & Co.,Inc. It offered financial analyses and carried out research for other institutions. At the same time, she began to apply for a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, which until then had only been open to men: of the first 10 investors she asked to sponsor her, 9 refused. The New York Stock Exchange itself put up every possible barrier to Muriel Siebert's entry. A new condition was put in place especially for her, that of obtaining a promise of a loan of up to 300,000 $ from a bank, which would of course refuse her such a sum as long as Muriel Siebert did not sit on the stock exchange. Finally, Muriel Siebert won her seat at the end of 1967 and became the first woman on the New York Stock Exchange. She later brought her financial expertise to politics, first as Superintendent of the New York State Banking Department, where between 1977 and 1982 she helped to limit bankruptcies in a difficult economic climate. Then by running for a seat in the US Senate.

Abby Joseph Cohen - the star of the bull markets

Abby Joseph Cohen's career as an economist and financial analyst has taken her from the board of governors of the US Federal Reserve to the position of partner at Goldman Sachs. She is known, among other things, for her successful strategy on the stock exchange and its excellent vision of the market. The most important of these was undoubtedly her success in predicting the bull market of the 1990s from the start of the decade. This prediction made her a star of the financial world, and led to her being named best strategist of 1998 and 1999 by Institutional Investor magazine. Following her departure from Goldman Sachs in 2021, she has become a professor at Columbia University.

Lubna Olayan - Investment from one continent to another

Lubna Olayan's career in finance began in New York in the early 1980s, when she worked as an analyst. She soon joined the financial arm of the Olayan Group, a family business set up in 1947 to provide road transport services, before becoming one of the largest investment companies in Saudi Arabia. At the time, Saudi society was very reluctant to accept women working in business, but that didn't stop Lubna Olayan rising through the ranks to become Managing Director of the Olayan Financing Company, the group's holding company in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. In 2019, she left this position to become Chairman of the Saudi British Bank (SABB), becoming the first Saudi woman to head a bank. She has since been confirmed in this position twice and is considered one of the most powerful women in the world by publications such as Time Magazine and Forbes.

Cathie Wood - the innovator

On several occasions in her career, Cathie Wood has stood out for her unique vision of finance, debating her views on interest rates with Henry Kaufman, among others. Between 1977 and 2014, she worked as an economist, analyst, portfolio manager and director at a number of companies including Capital Group, Jennison Associates and AllianceBernstein. She proposed a concept of actively managed ETFs based on disruptive innovations, and it was following their refusal that she founded ARK Invest. The fund sets itself apart by being active on both the capital and crypto markets, and by investing in areas at the cutting edge of innovation such as autonomous cars and genomics. She was included in the first ‘Forbes 50 Over 50’ ranking in 2021, which singles out inspirational men and women over 50, and her cryptocurrency investment choices are followed by many experts. In 2022, with falling valuations in the technology sector, her funds suffered significant losses. Despite this, Cathie Wood continues to be recognised as one of the most influential figures in the world of finance.

Women in finance today

Despite these influential women, who have all contributed in their own way to opening up the world of finance to women, the glass ceiling is still present and women invest less on average than men. In particular, the pandemic has had a detrimental effect, reducing employment among women, as well as the number of female entrepreneurs and investors. However, a 2021 report shows that companies founded by women bounce back faster than average, and tend to perform better than the rest of the market. Publications such as Forbes magazine's ‘Midas list’, which each year distinguishes women investors in action, are a good way of finding new inspirational women and drawing inspiration from their stock exchange strategies.

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