Who Was Muriel Siebert?

Muriel "Mickie" Siebert (1928-2013) was the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and was known as "the first woman of finance." She founded her own brokerage firm, pioneered individual discounting, and was the first woman to serve as superintendent of banking in the state of New York.

Key Takeaways

  • Muriel Siebert was the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • Siebert founded an investment and brokerage company that still operates today.
  • She was the first woman to serve as superintendent of banking in New York.
  • An avid women's rights advocate, Siebert broke numerous glass ceilings and paved the way for other women in finance.
Muriel Sibert

Investopedia / Bailey Mariner

Siebert's Early Career

Born in 1928 in Cleveland, Siebert began her career after leaving university early due to her father falling ill. She decided to pursue a career on Wall Street where she worked for three brokerages during the early years of her career.

Siebert became tired of making less money than her male colleagues doing the same work and, as a result, decided to pursue buying a seat on the NYSE. The first nine men she asked to sponsor her application turned her down before a tenth person agreed. The NYSE told her she would need to pay $445,000 for the seat, of which $300,000 needed to come from a bank. This created a sort of Catch-22: No bank would lend to her without the NYSE admitting her, and the NYSE would not admit her without the necessary loans. It took two years to get a loan, and her membership was finally approved on Dec. 28, 1967.

She founded Muriel Siebert & Company in 1969 and was the first woman to own and run a brokerage firm that was a member of the NYSE. In May 1975, Siebert moved into discount brokering after the federal government scrapped fixed commissions for brokers.

For 10 years Muriel Siebert was the only woman among 1,365 men at the NYSE.

Siebert's Later Career

In 1977, Siebert was named superintendent of banking for the State of New York, the first woman to hold that post. The job's role was to oversee all banks operating in the state. She also directed the Municipal Credit Union, Urban Development Corporation, and the Job Development Authority. She returned to her namesake brokerage after five years and in 1982 ran and lost as a Republican candidate for the United States Senate.

Muriel Siebert & Company remains in operation in New York City and has 15 branch offices nationwide. It is a subsidiary of Siebert Financial Corp, a holding company which also owns and operates an investment advisory and insurance arm.

Siebert passed away from cancer on Aug. 24, 2013, at age 84.

Seibert successfully campaigned to get a ladies' bathroom on the seventh floor of the NYSE. She threated to have a portable toilet installed if no bathroom for women was provided.

A Women's Rights Advocate and Philanthropist

Siebert was also a women's rights advocate and philanthropist, spending much of her free time and money to aid women and minorities through advocacy within the financial service industry as well as charitable endeavors. She believed that the underutilization of women in business, government, and other leadership roles put America at a disadvantage on the world stage. Foremost was her belief that every aspect of commerce and government would benefit from different perspectives and experiences.

In 1990, Siebert started the Siebert Entrepreneurial Philanthropic Plan, which donated half the profits from new securities underwriting deals her company handled to charities chosen by issuers. In 1998, she acted as president of the New York Women's Agenda, which created a program to promote financial literacy among women. Siebert has been honored numerous times by professional, charitable, and educational groups.