Elizabeth Warren. Suze Orman. Maria Shriver. Sheila Bair. These women – and the remaining 6 on Walletpop’s [unscientific] list of the TOP TEN WOMEN IN MONEY – are each making a difference in the financial well-being of millions of Americans.
And their guiding role is especially important now as we come out of the worst recession in decades and muddle through this tentative recovery, anxious for direction.
FIGHTING WALL STREET EXCESS
Sheila Bair, Chairman, FDIC
Mary Schapiro, Chairman, SEC
Bair, the outspoken and decisive head of the FDIC, is universally respected for being one of the few people to anticipate problems that led to the credit-market meltdown, which spread across the global financial system. And as Washington puts laws into place to prevent another financial crisis, she – along with Elizabeth Warren (see below), and SEC chair, Mary Schapiro (who has been at the forefront of financial regulation for 20 years, serving under four presidents before her appointment to the SEC) – is cleaning up the mess, and shaping the way the government will protect Main Street for the next generation. In a May cover story by Time magazine, these three notables were dubbed the “New Sheriffs of Wall Street.”
Elizabeth Warren, Chairman of the Congressional Panel Overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program
One component of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Harvard Law Professor, Elizabeth Warren, is widely expected to direct (after all, it was her idea). This consumer watchdog group, devoted to protecting Americans from unfair and abusive financial practices, will provide clear and accurate information to families (and small businesses) to ensure that bank loans, mortgages, and credit cards are fair and affordable. It will also set safety standards to prevent practices such as hidden credit card fees, deceptive “fine print,” and other financial abuses that have escaped oversight so far. In other words, the Bureau will put consumers FIRST — something Warren, a longtime consumer advocate, has always done.
Muriel Siebert, CEO, Muriel Siebert & Co.
You likely know Siebert – the “First Woman of Finance ” – as an advocate for women and business. And that she is – she was the first woman to own a seat on the NYSE (1967), first woman to be Superintendent of Banking of the State of New York (1977), and the company she founded, Muriel Siebert & Co., is the only woman-owned NYSE brokerage firm with a national presence. She also created Women’s Financial Network – www.wfn.com – to help women make smart investment decisions. But there’s something else you probably don’t know about Siebert: she wants financial literacy to be her legacy. And she has been working tirelessly to take her financial literacy program (now in New York City high schools) national. Lord knows, we need it: The National Foundation for Credit Counseling‘s third annual financial literacy survey shows that 92 million Americans give themselves a grade of C, D, or F on their knowledge of personal finance.
GET OUT OF DEBT
Susan Keating, President & CEO, National Foundation for Credit Counseling
You may not necessarily know Keating, but chances are, you know the organization she runs – the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. The largest and longest serving nonprofit credit counseling organization, credit counseling agencies that are members of the NFCC served nearly 4 million Americans in 2009; up from 2.5 million Americans in 2007, prior to the stock market tumbling and the recession settling in.
EMPOWER & INSPIRE
Maria Shriver, The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything
As host of the nation’s premier forum for women – The Women’s Conference – California First Lady, Maria Shriver, is all about inspiring women to transform themselves and be their own “Architect of Change.” The timing of her mission – and her belief in the “power of WE” – has never been more relevant. The Shriver Report chronicles these groundbreaking achievements: Women now account for 50% of the workforce (up from 30% a generation ago); Forty percent of working women are managers or professionals; Woman hold over 50% of personal wealth and are responsible for over 80% of consumer purchases; Mothers are the primary breadwinners in four of 10 American families!
Suze Orman, Host of CNBC’s Suze Orman Show
Jean Chatzky, Today Show Financial Editor
Orman and Chatzky have been educating Americans and doling out financial advice for years–on everything from budgeting to retirement. And while each personal finance expert has their own approach (Chatzky is more methodical; Orman airs your financial laundry), their guidance is always eagerly anticipated – and very well received – by millions of viewers. And readers – Orman and Chatzky are both best-selling authors, and have each written seven books.
Kathryn Finney, thebudgetfashionista.com
Stephanie Nelson, couponmom.com
As Americans continue to look for deals on everything from clothing to food, they’re finding them with the help of hugely successful money savers Kathryn Finney, of thebudgetfashionista, who was the first fashion blogger for receive a book deal from a major publishing house (How to Be a Budget Fashionista –The Ultimate Guide to Looking Fabulous For Less), and couponmom.com‘s Stephanie Nelson, author of New York Times bestseller, The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bill in Half. Finney has over 10,000 followers on Twitter; Nelson’s site, couponmom.com now boasts more than 2.5 million users.