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Game-changing women in derivatives

FIA celebrates groundbreaking women in the derivatives industry

8 March 2021

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International Women's Day celebrates the achievements of women across the globe. To honor this day, FIA is highlighting women who have put their stamp on our industry. These women were chosen for their accomplishments and leadership within their organization, their influence within the sector and their capacity to pave the way for future generations of women. 

Brooksley Born
Brooksley Born

Brooksley Born 

Brooksley Born, an inductee to this year's FIA Hall of Fame, is a retired partner of law firm Arnold & Porter and a former chair of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission. She was one of the leaders of a groundbreaking generation of women lawyers in the financial industry.

A longtime Washington, D.C., lawyer, Born joined Arnold & Porter in 1965 and became a partner in 1974. She was the head of the firm's derivatives practice and served on its policy committee. From 1996 to 1999, she was appointed chair of the CFTC where she strongly advocated for federal regulation of the over-the-counter derivatives market. She also served as a commissioner on the US Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission from 2009 to 2011 and is a member of the Systemic Risk Council, an independent non-partisan group dedicated to regulatory reform of the financial markets.

Born has championed women's rights, civil rights, and the rights of the indigent. For more than 25 years she chaired the board of directors of the National Women's Law Center, an organization which she helped to found, and has served on the boards of several public interest legal organizations. She was the 2009 recipient of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation’s Profile in Courage Award and received The American Lawyer Lifetime Achievement Award, among many other awards recognizing her leadership in public service.

Born received her law degree from Stanford Law School where she was president of the Stanford Law Review and received the Outstanding Senior Award.

Sharon Bowen
Sharon Bowen

Sharon Bowen

Sharon Bowen was the first African-American to be appointed as a commissioner of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission. She was sworn in on 9 June 2014 and served in the CFTC until 2017. Prior to this, she was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as vice chair and acting chair of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation.

Previous to her work in the Obama administration, Bowen had a three-decade career in corporate and transactional law as an associate at Davis, Polk & Wardwell and later as associate and partner at Latham & Watkins.

Bowen joined the Intercontinental Exchange's board of directors in December 2017 and is a partner at Seneca Women, a global leadership platform dedicated to connecting and advancing women in the economy.

Geraldine Bridgewater

Geraldine Bridgewater broke with convention by becoming one of the first female traders in the 1970s and the first woman to trade on the London Metal Exchange, blazing a trail for future generations of women in the traditionally male-dominated industry.

In 1978, Bridgewater organized and ran a campaign in league with the press to get women accepted as having equal ability and demanding equal opportunity. In 2007, she wrote a biography Ring of Truth to capture what it felt like to work in the City of London during this time and to tell the story of her fight for equality for women. Bridgewater retired from the industry in 1996.

Laura Cha
Laura Cha Shih May-lung

Laura Cha Shih May-lung

Laura Cha Shih May-lung is a Hong Kong businesswoman and politician with extensive regulatory and policymaking experience in the finance and securities sector in Hong Kong and mainland China. She is a non-official member of the Executive Council of Hong Kong, chair of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing – the first woman to hold that role – and non-executive chair of HSBC, among other senior roles in the finance industry.

Cha became the first person, and to-date the only person, outside Mainland China to join the country's central government at the vice-ministerial rank when she was appointed as vice-chair of the China Securities Regulatory Commission in January 2001. She served in that position until September 2004. Prior to that, she worked for the Securities and Futures Commission in Hong Kong from 1991 to 2000, becoming its deputy chair in 1998.

Cha was also chair of The Financial Services Development Council of Hong Kong from January 2013 to July 2018. She was awarded the Silver Bauhinia Star in 2001, the Gold Bauhinia Star in 2009 and the Grand Bauhinia Medal in 2017 by the Hong Kong SAR government for her public service.

Diana Chan
Diana Chan

Diana Chan

Diana Chan was the long-standing chief executive of EuroCCP, one of continental Europe’s top clearing houses. She became CEO of EuroCCP Limited in 2007 at the start of pan-European equities clearing and became CEO of EuroCCP N.V. in 2013 after the company’s merger with the European Multilateral Clearing Facility.

In the 10 years that she served as CEO, Chan played an instrumental role in the transformation of equities clearing by advocating efficiency through interoperability and competitive clearing.

Under her watch, EuroCCP gained access to more than 80% of equities trade flows in Europe, helped by arrangements with the London Stock Exchange, SIX Swiss Exchange and Euronext.

Prior to 2007, Chan worked at Euroclear Operations Centre, JP Morgan, Bank of New York and Citi in Europe, the US and Asia with responsibilities for strategy, market policy and product management. She featured in Financial News' annual list of the 100 Most Influential Women in Finance for nine years between 2008 and 2017. 

Maureen Downs
Maureen Downs

Maureen Downs

Maureen Downs is chair of the National Futures Association and the former president of futures clearing firm Rosenthal Collins Group. She is also a director of FIA Technology Services, chief executive of MC Downs & Co., an advisor to Phillip Capital and was previously on the board of directors of FIA.

In 2000, Downs was promoted to executive vice president of RCG and spearheaded the firm's entry into electronic trading. She was named president in September 2007, with responsibility for the firm's global expansion strategy.

She has also served as chief financial officer of Rosenthal Collins Equities and as a director of Rosenthal Collins Foreign Exchange Limited.

Downs joined RCG in 1998 as senior vice president of business development, marketing and strategic planning. Prior to this, she was the chief financial officer of Downs Capital, a proprietary trading firm with operations at both the Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Before her futures career, she practiced law and spent several years in corporate finance.

Clara Furse
Clara Furse

Clara Furse

Clara Furse was the chief executive officer of the London Stock Exchange from 2001 and 2009, and the first woman to occupy the position in its 228-year history. During those eight years, she fought to protect the exchange's independence, rebuffing unsolicited or hostile bids from Deutsche Boerse, Euronext, Macquarie, and Nasdaq before completing a merger with Borsa Italiana in October 2007. This provided the foundation for the exchange's diversification into derivatives, fixed income, clearing and settlement.

Furse began her career in 1979 as a broker at Heinold Commodities before joining Phillips and Drew (later acquired by UBS) in 1983 as a commodity broker. At UBS she became a managing director in 1995 and global head of futures in 1996. Before joining LSE, she was group chief executive of Credit Lyonnais Rouse. During the 1990s she also served as a non-executive director, committee chair and deputy chair of LIFFE, the UK’s first financial futures exchange.

In 2005, Furse was ranked 19th in Fortune magazine's Most Powerful Women in Business and in 2007 was listed among Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2008 she was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire for her contribution to the financial services industry.

Gay Huey Evans
Gay Huey Evans

Gay Huey Evans  

Gay Huey Evans, an inductee to this year's FIA Hall of Fame, is chair of the London Metal Exchange and serves on the boards of Standard Chartered, ConocoPhillips, IHS Markit and HM Treasury. In 2016, she was awarded an Order of the British Empire for services to the financial service industry and on diversity issues. 

Since taking up her role as chair of the LME, Huey Evans has steered several key initiatives including major technology infrastructure rebuilds as well as the firm’s diversity and inclusion agenda and sustainability initiatives. 

Huey Evans has worked within the finance and commodity industry for the past 30 years, as both an established market practitioner and regulator. 

She has previously served on the boards of Itau BBA International, the Financial Reporting Council, Aviva and the London Stock Exchange and held executive roles with Barclays Capital, Citi, the Financial Services Authority and Bankers Trust.

Rosemary McFadden
Rosemary McFadden

Rosemary McFadden

Rosemary McFadden began her Wall Street career as a staff attorney at the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex), was promoted to executive vice president after one year and in the following year was elected president by the board of directors, becoming the first woman president of any stock or futures exchange in the US.

Under her leadership from 1984 to1989, Nymex became the world’s largest energy exchange, opened offices in Asia and Europe, and its crude oil contract became the price reference point and benchmark for spot and futures trading.

Following her time at the exchange, McFadden served as a senior manager at Price Waterhouse where she worked with representatives of the World Bank, IMF and US Agency for International Development. She advised national governments on rules, regulations and organizational structures for the development of their capital markets.

McFadden joined the Pershing Division of Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette in 1997 where she was a primary advisor for international activities and developed the DLJdirect global market strategy. After retiring from Wall Street, McFadden was appointed Jersey City’s deputy mayor for economic development. She was appointed chief of staff in 2010, a position she held until July 2013 when a new mayor was sworn into office.

Ulla Nilsson
Ulla Nilsson

Ulla Nilsson

Ulla Nilsson was founder and global head of SEB Futures, the futures commission merchant of Swedish bank Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken from 1993 to 2010.  She was one of only a small number of women to have run FCMs. While based in London, the business included sales broking desks in Frankfurt and Helsinki. 

In 2004, Nilsson pioneered the SEB Futures project to become the first remote clearing member of Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade from London.

The move marked the firm’s first step in a strategy to create a global, central clearing operation with direct connection to all major derivatives exchanges from its derivatives centre in London.

Nilsson was also an industry representative to several exchanges including CME, CBOT, Eurex and NYSE Liffe. She started out as an FX trader with Skanda Banken in her native Sweden and spent time in Singapore as head of the bank’s trading and capital markets business.

Susan Phillips

Susan Phillips
Susan Phillips

Susan Phillips has had a long and distinguished career in academia and the government. The futures industry knows her best from her time at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, where she served as the first woman commissioner from 1981 to 1983 and then the first woman acting chair from 1983 to 1987. She gave the agency a more international orientation and put it in a better position to deal with the great expansion of European and Asian futures trading in the 1990s.

Phillips was named to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in 1991 and became the Board’s principal spokesperson on matters relating to financial institutions. In 1998, she returned to academia as the dean of the George Washington University School of Business and Public Management.  She retired from George Washington University in 2010.

Elizabeth Sam

Elizabeth Sam was a key figure in the growth of Singapore as a global financial center. She was one of the first women to enter the elite Administrative Service in 1962, joining the Ministry of Finance as an administrative officer before holding several senior positions, including deputy secretary in the economic development division, deputy controller of foreign exchange, and director of overseas investment.

She joined the Monetary Authority of Singapore in 1971 when it was established, and five years later became its chief manager. During her tenure at the Ministry of Finance and the MAS, Sam was responsible for promoting the Asian dollar market as well as Singapore's foreign exchange market.

Sam also played an important role in the development of the nation's futures market. From 1987 she served two terms as chair of the Singapore International Monetary Exchange (the forerunner of the Singapore Exchange) where she oversaw the expansion of Simex into options and commodities markets. She led Simex during tumultuous times, upholding the integrity of the market during the 1987 Black Monday and 1995 Barings crises.

In October 1996, Sam was appointed to the main board of the Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation, becoming the first female board member of a “big four” bank. That same year she was awarded the Public Service Star for her contributions to the nation’s development as a global financial centre.

Mary Schapiro
Mary Schapiro

Mary Schapiro

Mary Schapiro is one of the very few people in Washington to have held high-level positions in the regulation of both futures and securities. She has been a commissioner and chair at both the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and has been an able and active force in both worlds.

A lawyer by training, Schapiro was appointed in 1988 to fill one of two Democratic seats on the SEC. President Bill Clinton later appointed Schapiro acting chair of the SEC and then appointed her chair of the CFTC in 1994 where she steered the agency through the Barings crisis and the Sumitomo investigation.

Two years later, Schapiro joined the National Association of Securities Dealers as the president of regulation. She became chair and CEO of NASD in 2006 and oversaw its merger with the regulatory body of the New York Stock Exchange, forming the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. 

In January 2009, Schapiro became the SEC's first woman chair. Assuming the helm during a tumultuous time in the wake of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, Schapiro moved swiftly to restructure, reform and bolster the agency’s enforcement and regulatory processes and capabilities.

The only person to have led all three of the major national overseers of Wall Street – the SEC, Finra and the CFTC – Schapiro features in Forbes’ Most Powerful Women of 2012 list.

Joyce Selander

Joyce Selander was the first woman to physically trade financial futures in the pits at the Chicago Board of Trade. She began her futures industry career in 1968 with M-S Commodities, a firm founded by Sol Schneider, one of the founders of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. She was hired as a margin clerk and promoted to floor manager, responsible for the CME trading desk for M-S Commodities and instructing its clerks.

During those early years, women were not permitted in the trading pits and Selander was repeatedly fined for going into the pork belly pit to get 80-year-old Sol Schneider out of harm's way when trading became chaotic.

In 1972, Selander moved to the Chicago Board of Trade to work for Conti-Commodities. After three years at the CBOT, she moved to Cargil Investor Services and bought her own board seat in 1977. In 2011, Selander wrote a memoir, Joyce, Queen of the Mountain, which provides an insider's look at the workings of CBOT and the CME and tells the story of how she rose through the ranks of her profession.

Kim Taylor
Kim Taylor

Kim Taylor

Kim Taylor was president of clearing and post-trade services at CME Group, retiring at the end of 2017. Previously, she served as president of global operations, technology and risk from 2014 to 2016. Before that, she was president of CME Clearing from 2004 when CME began clearing all Chicago Board of Trade contracts.

Taylor led the clearinghouse through CME’s subsequent acquisitions of CBOT and the New York Mercantile Exchange and guided it through the 2008 financial crisis and the MF Global bankruptcy in 2011.

Taylor joined CME in 1989 as a senior analyst, assuming responsibility in 1998 for risk management and serving on the CME executive management team from 2004 until her retirement. In 2014, Crain’s Chicago Business named Taylor in its list of the Top 20 Most Powerful Women in Chicago Business.

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