Fearless Female Pioneers at the Financial Analysts Journal
Helen Slade Sanders
The first Analysts Journal, the forerunner to today’s Financial Analysts Journal, was published in January 1945, months before the end of World War II. It was an initiative of the New York Society of Security Analysts, now CFA Society New York and one of the oldest extant CFA societies, and Helen Slade Sanders was its champion and inaugural managing editor.
It probably won’t surprise you that Slade’s was the only female name to appear on the Journal’s and society’s mastheads for some time, although she was neither an officeholder at the latter nor remunerated for her role at the former. I’m pleased to report that both our masthead and officeholders — not to mention my remuneration! — are in better shape in 2019.
The Journal was later transferred to CFA Institute, known then as the National Federation of Financial Analysts Societies, in 1954, with Slade still at the helm. When Slade passed away in 1958, the first 1959 issue memorialized her contributions with a Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism scholarship, the first financial journalism scholarship of its kind. Slade was a Columbia alumna and had previously partnered with CFA Institute to sponsor the first forum at Columbia to train journalists to report on “economic matters” in a clear and interesting manner.
The CFA Institute scholarship in memory of Helen Slade Sanders continues to this day and is a wonderful piece of the shared history of Slade, CFA Society New York, and CFA Institute. (Fun fact: 1959 was also the year the Analysts Journal was renamed the Financial Analysts Journal, in part to distinguish it from a resource for psychoanalysts!)
The first recipient of the Helen Slade Sanders scholarship was Sylvia Auerbach, the first student at the Graduate School of Journalism who was also a mother. Like many women of her era, Auerbach had been actively discouraged from pursuing her dream career in her youth: Women were neither accepted at the Graduate School of Journalism nor regarded as suited for careers as members of the press. Years later, as Auerbach’s first son went off to college and with the support of the Slade scholarship, she enrolled at the journalism school, which by then had 10 women students. Auerbach’s memories of her time there are part of Columbia University’s celebration of its 250-year anniversary and are well worth a read.
The first issue of the Financial Analysts Journal in 1960 tells how Auerbach returned the scholarship and continued her studies at her own expense. Auerbach’s gift paid forward the legacy started by Helen Slade Sanders.
The first edition of the Journal featured one female author, Lucile Tomlinson, who wrote “Appraising the Risk Factor in Investment Company Leverage Shares,” which still reads well today. Tomlinson was credited as an “Executive Assistant” at the National Association of Investment Companies (NAIC)! Tomlinson’s book, Practical Formulas for Successful Investing, was published in 1955 and has a preface by Benjamin Graham.
New Yorker Isabel Benham, author of “Has Railroad-Equipment Debt Lost Its Prime Investment Status?,” was another notable early (circa 1953) female contributor to the Financial Analysts Journal forerunners.
While pursuing an economics degree at Bryn Mawr College, Benham was discouraged by the dean from pursuing her dream of working on Wall Street. The dean recommended she instead enroll in a secretarial course. Undeterred, she went on to have a 60-year career in finance. Among her many firsts: She was the first female partner in a Wall Street bond house, the first female railroad analyst on Wall Street, the first woman appointed to the board of directors of a railroad company, and among the first woman to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.
Clearly an analyst who loved her subject, she was known for her detailed reporting: She would ride the rails, inspect rail facilities, and study rail manuals and annual reports herself. She even kept miniature train sets on her desk.
Benham was the first rail analyst to propose the concept of “open access” in the 1970s. This concept came to characterize rail, telecoms, and utilities and today is associated with journal publication.
Just before her death, she donated $15 million in endowments to Bryn Mawr to encourage other women to pursue science and international studies. The Financial Times and Washington Post both posted entertaining obituaries in 2013 tracing her career path and celebrating her chutzpah.
Since Helen Slade Sanders’s pioneering launch, the Financial Analysts Journal has transformed from trade magazine to fully fledged academic journal and next year will celebrate its 75th anniversary. Following the arc of its history, the Financial Analysts Journal remains devoted to its mission to advance the knowledge and understanding of the practice of investment management through the publication of rigorous, peer-reviewed, practitioner-relevant research from leading academics and practitioners of all kinds.
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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.
Image credit: Sculpture by Kristen Visbal commissioned by State Street Global Advisors