Lauren Simmons, a 23-year-old equity trader for Rosenblatt Securities, is the youngest and only full-time female broker on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) floor. She said that people are surprised when she tells them her position, often asking her to specify exactly what she does – but she definitely doesn’t let this deter her.
A graduate of Kennesaw State University, Simmons moved to New York to pursue a career in the medical field, but ultimately found that it wasn’t her passion. Instead, she began searching for another industry to pursue. Finance seemed like an interesting choice and she responded to a position from Rosenblatt.
“The one thing that I love about numbers and statistics, and kind of one of the reasons I came to the New York Stock Exchange, is because numbers are a universal language,” she explained. “When you put them on a board it connects everyone, which is probably one of the reasons why the New York Stock Exchange is so iconic.”
After being brought on by Rosenblatt, Simmons had to pass an exam that all stockbrokers must take to receive their badge – the Series 19. She wasn’t sure that she could pass, and while others may have shared her doubts, passing this test proved that she was competent and motivated enough to have a place on the floor.
“When I see statistics that say ’80 percent don’t get through,’ I look at the 20 percent,” Simmons said. “So when everyone kept saying, ‘It’s a hard test. Don’t worry if you don’t pass,’ for me, I needed to pass to prove to myself that I could do this.”
When she first began, Simmons described her existence on the floor as a bit mousy, but then said, “I know they hired me because I was qualified, so I have to not listen to the self-doubt.”
Richard Rosenblatt, founder and CEO of the firm echoed that sentiment, saying that while there weren’t many women in the past, he’s confident “she won’t be the last.”
Now she is on the floor, making her way through the chaos and showing the men around her that she will not be seen as small, regardless of her gender or age.
“Just because you’re a part of their world, doesn’t mean you need to be a man,” Simmons asserted. “You just need to be yourself, and you need to be strong, confident and let them know that ‘I’m here’ and I have a voice and you’re going to listen to me.”
Simmons isn’t the only woman making big moves at the NYSE. In May, it was announced that Stacey Cunningham, then Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Intercontinental Exchange, would be the next president of the NYSE.
Simmons said she is excited for Cunningham to take on the presidency of the NYSE, declaring that she is “as qualified as any other man, and probably even better.”
Women like Simmons and Cunningham are setting the stage for more women to enter into the stock exchange. Simmons welcomes new women applicants and encourages them to keep pushing for a spot.
“Be uncomfortable and go after what you want,” she urged. “Apply for the job – you have no idea what lies behind the door. And if you don’t get the job, it’s OK. Apply for the next job and move forward. Don’t let that be a stop in your career, your life or whatever you want to do. I think it’s important to just keep going.”
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