// Muriel Siebert passed away at the age of 80 on August 24, 2013. Prior to her passing, she spoke with MAKERS about her groundbreaking career as a true trailblazer on Wall Street. //
Cause of Choice: Personal Finance Program at the Muriel Siebert Foundation.
First job: Accountant in Cleveland.
Proudest moment: Becoming the first woman to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.
Advice for young women: “If you find that you don't like what you're doing you can change it. There's no law that says you have to continue to do the same job if you're not feeling satisfied. Your mind is capable of doing a lot of things.”
Muriel Siebert was the founder and president of the nationally renowned stock brokerage firm Muriel Siebert & Co. In 1967, she became the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. To this day, Siebert & Co. remains the only nationally known brokerage headed by a woman. On August 24th, 2013, Siebert passed away at the age of 80, leaving a remarkable legacy on one of the most iconic streets in the world, Wall Street.
Siebert — known as “Mickie” to her friends and family — was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1932. She attended college locally, at Case Western Reserve University, where she studied accounting. She was forced to drop out when her father, a dentist, was diagnosed with cancer and could no longer pay for her education.
Instead of finishing her degree, Siebert headed to New York City in 1954 with $500 in her pocket to pursue her dream of working on Wall Street. She was hired for a $65-a week-analyst position at Bache & Co. and over the next decade she would go on to work for a handful of Wall Street firms, becoming a partner at Fickle & Co.
Despite her success, however, Siebert was painfully aware of the glass ceiling that prevented her from receiving equal pay and responsibility to the male executives at her firm. Believing that no existing firm would provide the respect and opportunities that she deserved, Siebert decided to found her own. She established Siebert & Co. in 1967.
Establishing the company proved to be easier than acquiring the necessary seat on the Stock Exchange, however. Of the ten men Siebert asked to sponsor her, nine refused. Several members of the exchange privately asked her not to buy a seat because of her gender. Yet Siebert persisted, and on December 28th, 1967, became the first woman to own her own seat on the New York Stock Exchange.
Over the next decade Siebert & Co. continually posted steady returns for its clients. In 1975, when the SEC decided to allow broker commissions to be negotiable, Siebert became one of the first firms to offer rates at a discount.
In 1977, she became the highest-ranking female regulator in history when she accepted a five-year position as New York State’s Superintendent of Banks. Her interest in public service persisted even after the end of her term; in 1982 she ran in the Republican Primary for the United States Senate, finishing second among three candidates.
In addition to leading Muriel Siebert & Co. and investment firm Siebert Brandford Shank, Siebert sat on the boards of several philanthropies including 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, and others. She was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Committee of 200 (an international organization of pre-eminent businesswomen), the International Women's Forum, Deloitte & Touche's Council for the Advancement and Retention of Women, and the New York Women's Forum, for which she was a founder and president.