Obituary: Muriel Siebert, a pioneer in the world of high finance

  • Updated: August 26, 2013 - 9:56 PM
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Muriel Siebert, photographed at her discount brokerage and underwriting firm in 1995, was the first woman to buy a seat at the New York Stock Exchange, but she preferred working behind the scenes.

Photo: Wyatt Counts • Associated Press,

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Muriel Siebert, whose success as one of Wall Street’s early, influential female analysts earned her the contacts and nest egg to become the first woman to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, has died. She was 80.

She died on Aug. 24 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, according to a statement from Siebert Financial Corp., which she founded and led.

In paying $445,000 for one of the NYSE’s 1,366 memberships on Dec. 28, 1967, “Mickie” Siebert broke up the all-male bastion of the Big Board, which until then had permitted women on the trading floor only as clerks and pages to fill shortages during World War II and the Korean War.

The lack of enthusiasm for welcoming a female colleague was evident, Siebert said, in her search for the two sponsors she needed under membership rules. After several rejections, she got James O’Brien, a partner at Salomon Brothers & Hutzler, and Kenneth Ward, a partner at Hayden Stone & Co., to back her.

Siebert’s revolution was at least partly symbolic, since she did most of her work away from the floor, researching companies and advising clients of her sole-proprietor firm.

Her stock-exchange membership meant that she could, when she desired, handle the actual buying and selling of securities, giving her a larger share of commissions.

Siebert wrote that at a Christmas party on the night she was admitted, one NYSE governor asked her, “How many more women are there behind you?”

The answer for almost a decade would be just one — Jane Larkin, a partner in Hirsch & Co., a member for a few months until she gave up her seat when her firm was merged into F.I. duPont, Glore Forgan & Co. It wasn’t until 1976 that a female member — Alice Jarcho, a broker for Oppenheimer & Co. — began working full-time on the NYSE trading floor.

ISiebert went on to serve five years as New York State’s first female superintendent of banks. Following an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 1982, she returned to her brokerage, which she took public in 1996 under the holding company Siebert Financial.

Bloomberg News Service

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