The gender pay gap isn’t limited to entry-level workers. Disparities in compensation and overall wealth go all the way to the top.
Only 13 percent of billionaires in the United States are women, and the vast majority of those didn’t earn their fortunes by investing in the stock market. Historically, women haven’t been encouraged to participate in the predominantly male finance industry, so the number of female investors is small.
However, that’s not to say that women haven’t made their mark in the world of finance. In fact, the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq have female leaders right now.
Women might not get as much attention for their investment-related accomplishments, but they have a long history of success as financial services professionals and investors.
What Percentage Of Finance Is Female?
The finance industry has always been dominated by men, both from an advisory perspective and from an investor perspective. However, in recent years there has been fundamental change. In 2019, researchers determined that just 26 percent of US women put their money in the stock market. In 2021, another study showed that figure at 67 percent.
In an interesting twist, female investors average higher returns than their male counterparts. That is due, in large part, to diverging investment strategies. Men are more inclined to make frequent trades, while research has shown women tend to buy quality stocks and hold them long-term.
Perhaps that tendency explains why women are not well-represented in hedge funds, which lean towards short-term, higher-risk positions. When women are employed by hedge funds, they rarely rise to senior-level positions. In 2020, approximately 20 percent of hedge fund employees were female, but they only held 12.2 percent of senior-level jobs.
Less than five percent of hedge funds are owned by women, and women manage roughly one percent of all hedge fund assets. With that said, it is worth noting that even in the fast-moving world of hedge fund management, funds with female leaders outperform hedge funds managed by men.
Outside of hedge funds, female representation in finance is somewhat more robust, though the pattern of underrepresentation of women in leadership persists. Approximately 46 percent of financial sector workers are women, but of those female financial services professionals, only around 15 percent hold executive-level positions.
But change is coming. Women are rising up the ranks faster, and there are more women in senior positions than ever before. The list of the most powerful women in finance now includes heads of major exchanges and top financial institutions – a phenomenon that was practically unheard of at the start of the 21st century.
So, who are the most powerful women in finance today?
Who Are The Most Powerful Women In Finance?
Over the past two decades, women have made significant inroads in the financial services industry. Organizations like 100 Women in Finance and Girls Who Invest offer education and encouragement for those with an interest in finance careers.
American Banker’s 2022 List of the Most Powerful Women in Finance reads like a who’s who of the most influential financial organizations in the country. These are the top five names:
Mary Callahan Erdoes – CEO, Asset & Wealth Management, JPMorgan Chase
Abigail Johnson – Chair and CEO, Fidelity Investments
Thasunda Brown Duckett – President and CEO, Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA)
Adena Friedman – President and CEO, Nasdaq
Lynn Martin – President, NYSE Group
An honorable mention goes to these two, who hold senior positions in the nation’s largest commercial banks:
Emily Portney – Chief Executive Officer, Asset Servicing, BNY Mellon
Katy Knox – President, Bank of America Private Bank
With so much progress and so much success among women in finance, typical “world’s best investor” and “best investor in history” lists seem to have a glaring omission. Nearly every such list is made up of men.
Common names found on those lists include Warren Buffett (net worth $107 billion), Carl Icahn (net worth $18 billion), Ray Dalio (net worth $19 billion), and George Soros (net worth $7 billion).
In honor of Women’s History Month, it’s time for a new list – one that includes the best female investor of all time.
Who Is The Best Female Investor Of All Time?
Choosing the best female investor of all time is an impossible task because so many have made critical contributions to the industry. These are some of the pioneers who changed history and paved the way for today’s women in finance:
Until December 27, 1967, every member of the New York Stock Exchange was male. On December 28, 1967, Muriel Siebert became the first woman to own a seat on the exchange, alongside 1,365 male peers.
That accomplishment earned her the nickname “The First Woman of Finance,” which attracted the attention of New York’s governor.
In 1977, he appointed Siebert as the state’s first female Superintendent of Banking.
Those who follow Warren Buffett’s investment strategy know that he is firmly focused on value. He buys quality stocks at bargain prices, often with attractive dividend yields, and holds them long-term.
However, long before Buffett proved himself and started sharing his insights with a larger audience, Geraldine Weiss was already promoting this strategy through a popular newsletter and delivering above-average returns.
In a sign of the times, women weren’t taken seriously as investors in 1966. Weiss published her newsletter as G. Weiss, which enabled her to assemble a large following. When she went public with her true identity in 1977, her followers were shocked – but most stuck with her based on her long track record of successful stock picks.
She was later given the nickname “Grand Dame of Dividends,” and she continued to publish her newsletter until she retired in 2002.
Dawn Fitzpatrick was among the few female hedge fund managers, and she achieved tremendous success in the role. She started with a relatively small firm, O’Connor & Associates, in the 1990s as a clerk. Eventually, she worked her way into the top position, which made her one of a tiny number of female hedge fund managers.
O’Connor & Associates was acquired by the global investment and financial services firm UBS, where Fitzpatrick stayed for 25 years before moving on to become the CIO in charge of George Soros’ wealth. She has been in the CIO position with Soros Fund Management since 2017, which signals an extraordinary vote of confidence from Soros, who is ranked as one of the best investors of all time.
All three of these women were pioneers in investing, and they cleared the way for more women to participate in finance, whether as a career or as an individual investor. Their influence made it possible for women to be heard in a traditionally male industry, and today, female voices are included – and often highlighted – in the national conversation about business, the market, and the larger economy. Any or all of them can be considered the best female investor of all time.
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