Grace Hyslop never balked at a challenge

Grace Hyslop began her historic career in finance by working with chicken farmers and she never balked at a challenge. Hyslop, who graduated high school at age 12 and immediately accepted a job as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse, became the first woman to hold a seat on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Later, in her 60s, she went to graduate school, earned a Master’s Degree in neuropsychology and began a fourth career working with people who had learning disabilities. All those paths crossed in Nebraska where she raised six children and had a stock ticker installed in her home library. She and her husband Mark launched their lucrative career in what is now known as derivatives by buying eggs and chickens from farmers and selling them to the military during World War II. At that time, egg futures offered a way for people working in the poultry business to hedge their risk. Mark began commuting once a week to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where he and Grace’s efforts as market hedgers provided him an in to buy a seat on the exchange. Meanwhile, Grace followed the action from their home, thanks to their home ticker. As the family made plans to move to Chicago, Mark suffered a fatal heart attack. Rather than selling his CME membership, Grace applied for his seat. Although the board eventually granted her the seat, they did not allow her to walk the floor. She bought and sold contracts, but had to do it through an intermediary, eventually her son Mark. They might not have wanted to see her on the floor, but exchange members were interested in using Grace in their marketing. A 1961 bulletin included this description of her, “The new member stated that she hopes to interest more women to trade in commodities handled on the C.M.E.” An additional report offered this assessment, “She has various women customers and feels that women… | Read More »

A toast to women in an industry that could use a few more

As we celebrated International Women’s Day this week, I took some time to reflect on my own experiences as a female in the workplace. In some ways, not much has changed since I first earned my license back in 1981. The wealth management industry is still heavily male-dominated and it’s a little puzzling to me why this trend continues. I have always been a working woman, since my early days in New York when I earned college money by working as a teller at J.P. Morgan Trust Company. I believe women are well suited for careers in finance, especially in the financial planning industry. Most of the situations I counsel clients through, I’ve already experienced myself. I’ve been a working mother and a proud member of the sandwich generation. I’ve taken care of my mother, tended my marriage, and willed myself through devastating loss, when my husband died ten years ago. I’ve seen my employees, many of whom are females, juggling full lives outside the office even as they dedicate themselves to the task at hand. I admire the way they’re raising their children and dealing with issues of marriage, health and family. It’s not easy, but these challenges make us stronger both as advisors and as human beings. The key to this industry isn’t spreadsheets or software. It’s empathy and I’m so proud to say I see that every day in my office. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the women in my life – my Russian grandmother, my feisty mother, my daughter Tanya, my lifelong friends, and the dozen wonderful women who join me in working for Winch Financial. It’s nice to have a day to celebrate international women, but it’s even nicer to recognize their value all year long.