Muriel "Mickie" Siebert, the first woman to sit on the NYSE, passed away on Saturday at the age of 80. She is remembered as a Wall Street legend, a hard-hitting dynamo who broke barriers in gender rolls, and a noted philanthropist.
Siebert came to New York City from Cleveland in1954 at the age of 22 with $500 in her pocket and no college degree. Pretending her education was otherwise, and applying for jobs under the more masculine name M.F. Siebert, she worked her way up to partner at two securities firms Finkle & Co. and Brimberg & Co.
After frustrating years of receiving less commission than her male colleagues, and realizing that was unlikely to change, the "First Lady of Wall Street" bought her own seat on the NYSE in 1967 for nearly a half million dollars. She recalled having great difficulty getting sponsors for the seat, and fought to earn the respect of her male peers. In doing so she became the first female on the trading floor to hold a position higher than a clerk. She remained the only female member of the exchange for nearly 10 years.
In 1969 she founded Muriel Siebert & Co. (later known as Siebert Financial Corporation) which went public in 1996 after earning a reputation as a pioneer in the discount brokerage business. Siebert served as chairwoman and CEO. Today it is a subsidiary of Siebert FInancial Corp.
Siebert would go on to become the first female superintendent of banking for New York State in 1977. She resigned in 1982 to campaign for a U.S. Senate seat but did not win the Republican nomination in New York. She returned to her firm and went on to serve as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Women's Forum, and the New York Women's Forum. In 1999 she started a program to teach students personal financial management skills.
[The Bite Of New Market Realities]
Siebert was commemorated with the ringing of the NYSE's closing bell on January 5, 1998 after 30 years as a member of the stock exchange, and again in 2007 on her 40th anniversary of buying her seat on the exchange. In 2010, she was named one of American Banker magazine’s “25 Most Powerful Women in Finance.”
"Muriel supported women across this great land – she spoke of opportunities and she continued to create them for others. It’s a tremendously sad loss for me, for women, and for the financial industry," says Jennifer Openshaw, president of Finect and founder of Women’s Financial Network ,which was acquired by Siebert Financial.
Siebert died in New York City after a battle with cancer.