Breaking News

Carolyn Leonard: From Working Woman to Wealthy Trader

Carolyn Leonard didn’t sit around and wait for permission to enter the male-dominated world of financial services.

She found out what she needed to know and became the best at her craft.

In the 1970s, Carolyn Leonard stepped on the floor of the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) to trade with the “big boys”. She moved fearlessly because she was going through a divorce and had two kids by her side that she had to care for. Finding a career that would enable her to maintain the lifestyle she had as a wife of a successful trial lawyer wasn’t an option. It was a priority.

And her hard work paid off.

After Leonard’s first year of trading, she out-earned her ex-husband and most of the men she traded with.

Wealthy Women Daily caught up with Carolyn Leonard over tea to discuss what it’s like to be one of the few women in finance in the 70s and how young women can position themselves for career and financial success.

Wealthy Women Daily: You managed to be one of the first independent female traders in the 70s. How did you start your trading career and achieve large amounts of success during a time when women were excluded from this space?

Lenoard: I was surrounded by dumb men [in my neighborhood] making a fortune. And I figured if these guys can make that kind of money and they are traders at the board of trade, I’m just as dumb as they are. [So] I can do this. Now I didn’t want to trade commodities so I went over to the Chicago Board Options Exchange. And I did just based on the fact that I knew that there was an opportunity. But I did have to assume tremendous debt to buy a seat. I owed a quarter of a million dollars in 1976. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t make it work. It was total faith in myself, and whatever pivots and changes I was going to make, I was going to do it.  Failure was not on my menu. The only thing on my menu was success, success, success.

Wealthy Women Daily: What do women need to do to climb the ladder in finance and emerge as a leader in this male-dominated space?

Lenoard: First of all, any job you take, until you are doing it, you really don’t know what that job is about. I knew nothing about trading. There was no book. There wasn’t a pamphlet. There was no information. The first thing I did was find out who was the smartest person trading. I learned that it was a Ph.D. who came to Chicago from Boston College and was teaching mathematics at the University of the Chicago. (1) He was the most educated and smartest guy on any trading floor during that time. (2) He was obscenely successful in a very short period of time. I knew he knew how to teach and I knew he knew how to trade. The number one thing you have to do is figure out is who is going to be your mentor.

Wealthy Women Daily: What would you tell a millennial to do now to position themselves for a great life during retirement?

Lenoard: Start saving for retirement. Albert Einstein said compound interest is the greatest invention known to man. Start today. It doesn’t matter whether it’s $2 or $5. If you are a millennial, you have the opportunity of money working for you through compound interest.

Millennials can start with ETFs. They are exchange-traded funds that are actively traded. You buy yourself an indexed ETF on the S&P. The fees are very low because you’re not paying anyone to manage that money. You let the money sit. Your money will grow with the market.

Secondly, if you have a blue chip stock you love, get yourself a Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP). When the dividend gets paid, you will get fractions of shares that will begin to add up. Those shares are money making money for you.

Best Time in History for Women to Invest

This is the best in history for women to learn how to invest. The markets are volatile, mergers and acquisitions are frequent, and political friction is increasing uncertainty. It’s the best time for women to dive in and explore the markets because we’re not looking at a straight investment path. You have to think more strategically in this environment. And when you can learn how to navigate a period of turbulence, you unlock another level of possibilities that you can tap into as an investor. You also develop the financial acumen needed to become the next woman CEO!

If you are just starting your investment journey, join The Wealthy Woman Investor to gain the foundational skills and market insights you need to build your first investment portfolio. This annual subscription gives you monthly access to the latest insights in the investing world and an analysis of stocks to consider. Are you wondering what stocks you should look into right now? We’ll give you good ideas to consider.

Read more here.

To gain exclusive access to more insights from this interview, subscribe to Wealthy Women Weekly.

Disclaimer: Wealthy Women Daily is solely educational and informational, and is not intended to give investment or trading advice of any kind. Not all asset classes are suitable for all investors. Wealthy Women Daily is a research academy that provides you with the data and analysis you need to make an informed investment decision. It is your responsibility to talk to an expert to understand how specific investments will impact you during tax time. 

About Charlene Rhinehart, CPA

Charlene Rhinehart is a Certified Public Accountant, Founder of Wealthy Women Daily, and Editor-in-Chief of the Dividend InvestHer and The Wealthy Woman Investor. Charlene is currently the Chair of the Illinois CPA Society Taxation Individual Committee. With over a decade of experience in the financial services industry, Charlene is one of the few leaders who design insights specifically for the woman investor. Charlene’s work has been featured in a variety of publications including the Huffington Post, Black Enterprise, and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. In 2019, Charlene released her book “Dividends Are a Queen’s Best Friend”, on Amazon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *