These eight men and women are helping blaze a trail for future Black investors
Black individuals, in the United States as well as in other countries, have long faced significant hurdles when it comes to investing, and to finance more generally. These hurdles include lending discrimination in the U.S. and racism in the insurance industry, among others, which have held back people of color. Yet, despite these difficulties, there also has been a long line of inspiring Black figures in finance and investing.
Some are legendary for their extraordinary achievements within the industry, while others are legendary for their groundbreaking accomplishments during a time when few Black people worked in finance. All are notable for their expertise and influence, both within the industry and in the outside world. Here is a look at the stories of eight legendary Black men and women.
Suzanne Shank has almost single-handedly revolutionized the world of municipal bond underwriting. Like other investors on this list, Shank didn’t start out in finance, but initially studied STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), completing a BS in civil engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology before earning an MBA in finance from Wharton.
After graduating from Wharton, Shank gained experience at a number of Wall Street firms before starting her own business. In 1996 she co-founded Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co., which experienced a meteoric rise, becoming the first minority and/or women owned business enterprise (MWBE) to be a top 10 U.S. municipal bond underwriter.
In 2019, Shank oversaw one of the biggest mergers of recent years. The firm she had founded (and led as chairperson and CEO) merged with Williams Capital Group to form Siebert Williams Shank. This firm, with Shank as president and CEO, now employs some of the most experienced talent in the world of municipal underwriting and has become a titan of the industry.
Shank has also been keen to inspire and support the next generation of Black investors. She is currently a member of Wharton’s graduate executive board and Spelman College’s board of trustees, where she focuses on providing access to underrepresented minorities.
The Bottom Line
Each of these investors is inspiring and not just because of the success they achieved in their chosen field. They have triumphed despite the difficulties they have had to overcome in a society that still has massive wage gaps by race, making their achievements even more remarkable.
What’s more, many of the investors on this list are also actively using their success to improve the outlook for the next generation, whether by offering capital to Black-owned businesses, through racial justice investing, or by improving the racial mix at their own institutions. It appears that many of the most successful Black investors are also those with the strongest social consciences.