Why Are So Many Women Leaving Wall Street?

In my first job on Wall Street in 1982, I shared an office with the assistant to the top auto industry analyst, Maryann Keller. Our workspace was across the hall from hers, and I could watch and hear her through the glass. She never rested. From before I came in until after I left, Keller worked the phones daily. She had the best network in the industry. No one associated with the auto sector, from Chrysler head Lee Iacocca to Toyota president Shoichiro Toyoda would refuse her call. In fact, her messages went to the top of the pile.
When Keller wasn't working sources worldwide, she was digging into vehicle costs by model, labor negotiations, management changes, market share, environmental regulations, currency fluctuations, consumer spending, car preferences, balance sheets, industry gossip and really anything else that could potentially affect profits and stock prices of auto manufacturers and suppliers. She would then type, rapid-fire, clearly and concisely, with accompanying tables and charts, her findings and conclusions. Those were published in a constant stream of output worthy of a large team of analysts. She tightly controlled her business.

My office-mate, her assistant, busied himself with reams of data and early spreadsheet software. But Keller arguably worked the phones hardest for her customers. She kept all of PaineWebber's largest institutional investors abreast, reporting on her conversations with management, her analysis of the profit and loss statement, her expectations for the future and her read on key opportunities and risks for auto stock investors. Back then, the big customers were not hedge funds, but large mutual funds such as Fidelity and Alliance Capital and state pension funds. No analyst or portfolio manager at these funds who had or was considering a position in an auto-related stock wanted to tell the boss or investment committee that he or she had not yet talked to Maryann Keller. No. That call was essential. And Keller returned each one.

I watched her. I looked for a friend to stop by for lunch. I listened for a personal phone call. I tried to catch her daydreaming and gazing out the window. Maybe they happened, but I never did see or hear them. And as I watched her, I thought, "I could never do that."

The sudden need for bodies on Wall Street as a new bull market began in the summer of 1982 turned out to be a boon to women--briefly. Analysts like Keller proved that women could research, cultivate important relationships and command respect as experts. All around me, women were succeeding. When Keller left to join another firm, she was replaced by a woman. The female assistant director of our equity research department rose to run the entire department. A young woman stepped into my next male boss's shoes when he was recruited away to another firm. The senior investment banker in my industry, retail, was a woman.

Source: Huffington Post --- Quartz  |  By Margo Epprecht
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