NEW YORK -- Though Wall Street isn't known as a place where women
rule, there's a fast-growing segment of the securities business
they are gaining more clout than perhaps anywhere else in the
While there are no statistics on the progress of women in the
various facets of the securities industry, Wall Street executives
anecdotal evidence suggest that asset-backed bonds is one part of
business where women are making more headway into management ranks
than other areas.
The evidence includes Lesley Goldwasser, senior managing director
and head of asset-backed trading at Bear, Stearns; Beth Starr,
vice president and head of asset-backed research at Lehman Brothers;
and Susan Aldworth, head of asset-backed trading at UBS Securities.
And then there's Lisa Anderson, director of asset-backed research
at Deutsche Morgan Grenfell; Tracy van Eck, senior managing director
and head of asset-backed research at Bear Stearns; and Lisa James,
managing director and head of new issue asset-backed trading at
"There is a greater representation of women, or greater proportion
in leadership positions, in the asset-backed market than in other
disciplines," said Gregory Parseghian, who heads investments at
Freddie Mac, formerly known as Federal Home Loan Mortgage. When
Parseghian worked at CS First Boston, he recruited van Eck in 1990
from another area of the firm to write research on asset-backed
bonds. She moved to Bear Stearns last year.
Asset-backed securities are bonds backed by payments on such
consumer debt as credit cards and car loans. Many of the women now
taking charge in this market were part of a wave of women who
investment banking in the mid-1980s, just as asset-backed bonds were
pioneered. Many of these women were assigned to asset-backed bonds
when the market was small and insignificant.
Now, the market has ballooned to $389 billion, and many of the
most experienced people in the field are the women who were assigned
to it in the early days.
Some people believe that a disproportionate number of women wound
up in asset-backed bonds -- and, perhaps, were able to advance in it
more rapidly than they might have in other areas -- because of the
absence of entrenched managers in the field and many of the men at
the firms went to the more lucrative and glamorous parts of the
Asset-backed bonds "didn't attract the interest of many men
because they didn't see the potential of it," said Samuel L. Hayes
III, professor of investment banking at Harvard Business School. As
a result, "women were able to establish a competence, a momentum and
a client loyalty" in the business, he said.
"By the time the men caught on to the fact that this was a growing
area, these women had already established themselves and couldn't be
dislodged," Hayes said.
Some of the women disagree that men saw these departments as
backwaters. Van Eck points out that it was Parseghian and other men
who fought for extra resources for asset-backed teams. "They
projected that someday the market would be equally as important as
the corporate (bond) market," she said.
To be sure, asset-backed bond departments, like the rest of Wall
Street, are mostly populated by male executives. Still, the numbers
of women executives stand out.
Goldwasser, of Bear Stearns, was starting out at First Boston in
1985 when she was asked to trade asset-backed bonds, which were just
an idea then. She agreed, becoming the first trader of the new
Goldwasser, now 35, said she had some doubts about taking that
job. She thought she was better suited for an international
position. She's of Eastern European heritage, was born and raised in
Zimbabwe, and attended the University of Capetown, South Africa.
With advice from her bosses, she decided to latch onto a market
that would use the blueprint from a thriving mortgage-backed bond
business to create bonds from consumer loans. …