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The Financial Industry Is Rich With Women Who Made And Continue To Make History

The world of finance, like many other industries, used to be male-dominated. In fact, there was a time not all that long ago that women were not allowed by law to own property in their own name, open a bank account or have a credit card without the signature of their husband. As we all know, times have changed. Women are as good and often much better than many men when it comes to finances. In fact, many women are considered the CFOs of their families.

March is Woman’s History Month and I want to celebrate the women who have broken through the stereotypes, who have risen to the very pinnacle of financial success. And, to the men who are married to these women, to the men who are fathers to these women, I hope you will continue to support the women in your life to become financially savvy and independent. After all, statistically speaking we men are likely to pass before our wives. The women in our lives may be the beneficiaries of our Social Security and Pensions. So, if your wives haven’t addressed this as a concern, you might want to make it your business to make sure those accounts are properly set up to be transferred smoothly.

In honor of the women who have made financial history, I provide a very short list of a few who have been significant in their contributions to the country and the world at large. You will find many more women who’ve made history in the world of finance at:

Henrietta “Hetty” Green (aka The Witch of Wall Street)

Born in 1834, Henrietta “Hetty” Green was one of the nation’s first value investors. Though Green came from a wealthy family that made most of its money in the whaling industry, her financial savvy turned her into an investing powerhouse. Case in point: When her father gave her beautiful dresses to attract a rich suiter, she instead sold the clothing and used the proceeds to invest in government bonds.

When Green died in 1916, she had amassed a fortune of more than $2 billion in today’s dollars and was considered the wealthiest woman in America. Known for her miserly ways and the black mourning clothes she adopted after the death of her husband, Green was commonly referred to as the “Witch of Wall Street.”

Janet Yellen

Janet Yellen was the first woman to be chair of the Board of Governors for the U.S. Federal Reserve, a position she held from 2014 to 2018. By and large, Yellen has been lauded for her performance as the fed chair, overseeing the economy during a period of low unemployment, record stock prices and low inflation. When she left office, 60% of economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal gave her an “A” rating, while 30% gave her a “B.”

Yellen received her bachelor’s degree in economics from Brown University before going on to receive a Ph.D in economics from Yale University. She is a professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley.

Mary L. Schapiro

Mary L. Schapiro is the first woman to be permanent chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Schapiro served as a financial services regulator for four U.S. presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Schapiro also served as the chairman and CEO of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) from 2006 to 2009, as well as the chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Schapiro is the only person to have been chair of both the SEC and the CFTC. Currently, Schapiro is the vice chair for public policy and special advisor to the founder and chairman at Bloomberg LP.

Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel is a powerhouse in the financial world, and no list of women who impacted finance would be complete without her. Merkel is often referred to as the “de facto leader of Europe.”

The first woman to become chancellor of Germany, Merkel is No. 1 on the Forbes 2018 list of “Most Powerful Women in the World.” She is regarded as the primary force that got Germany through a major financial crisis and back on its feet.

Adena Friedman

Adena Friedman is the president and CEO of the Nasdaq, a position she has held since 2017. This position makes her the first woman to ever lead a global exchange company.

Friedman has a long history with the Nasdaq, having been with the company on and off since 1993. Prior to serving as the president and CEO, she served as the president and COO from 2014 to 2016. Friedman also had a stint as the managing director and CFO of The Carlyle Group, a private equity company, and she is credited with helping the company go public.

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