Living Legend

By Barbara Melendez

USF News

 

TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 1, 2012) – Opportunities to spend time with living legends are few and far between. One of those rare opportunities arrives on Nov. 9 when the first woman to purchase a seat on the New York Stock Exchange speaks at the University of South Florida.

Siebert will be the guest speaker at the Gus Stavros Center’s Advocacy Board luncheon meeting, presenting her remarks before invited guests from noon to 2 p.m. in the Raymond James Room.

“She was only 32 years old when she overcame long-held prejudices and financial obstacles to break into that all-male preserve,” said Professor Dick Puglisi, endowed chair and director of the Stavros Center in the College of Education. “We are thrilled to have such an historic figure from the financial industry share her insights with us. She is truly a remarkable person.”

All 1,365 members of the NYSE were men the year Siebert took her place among them. Not only did she find a place, she also thrived and continues to lead her Wall Street firm, Muriel Siebert & Co., Inc. as founder, chairwoman, CEO and president. Her company holds the record as the first and longest running discount brokerage firm.

Her website proudly proclaims, “We have no investments in collateralized debt obligations, exotic derivatives or structured products. For over 40 years we have served the independent investing public without conflicts of interest. We do not make markets in any securities and, we never take positions against clients' orders.”

Siebert, a powerhouse in the financial industry, whose motto is “take risks, take stands, take responsibility,” has done and continues to do more than run her successful company.

In 1977, she was named New York State’s superintendent of banking and held the position for five years during a leave of absence from her firm.  In that role, her responsibilities included making sure the state’s banks and other financial institutions were safe and sound.  At a time when nationwide failures of financial institutions were common at the time, not one New York State bank failed during her term.

During her career she has also held appointments to the New York State Commission on Judicial Nomination and the National Women's Business Council.

A vocal advocate for the inclusion of women and minorities in the financial industry, Siebert knows from experience how difficult that can be. After a successful start, managing to reach partner in a leading Wall Street brokerage firm, she wasn’t made to feel welcome. According to her company profile, after making substantial money for her colleagues, “her effort was often patronized, ridiculed or openly opposed by many men on Wall Street. For example, nine of the first 10 men she asked to sponsor her application turned her down.”

In addition to not giving up, she shares what she has learned.

Her Muriel F. Siebert Foundation developed a curriculum for young people and adults – the Siebert Personal Financial Program – Taking Control of Your Financial Future – that teaches the skills of financial management. It started out as a project she began while serving as president of the New York Women’s Agenda in 1999. It is now in use in school districts around the country.

The recipient of numerous awards, Siebert most recently was selected as one of U.S. Banker Magazine's 2010 "25 Most Powerful Women in Finance." The New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education named its Lifetime Achievement Award for her in 2009 and made her its first recipient. 

Siebert was inducted into the International Women’s Forum Hall of Fame in the National Women’s Hall of Fame and is the inaugural member of the Working Woman’s Hall of Fame. She is actively involved in numerous non-profit, civic and women’s organizations. Her board memberships include The Economic Club of New York, The New York State Business Council, the Greater New York Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Guild Hall Museum. She also holds memberships in the Council on Foreign Relations, the Committee of 200, the International Women's Forum and Deloitte & Touche's Council for the Advancement and Retention of Women. She is a founder, member and past president of the New York Women's Forum.

Siebert penned her autobiography, "Changing the Rules - Adventures of a Wall Street Maverick," which was published in 2002 by Simon and Schuster.

 

Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.