75 Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street

Whether they're in investment banking, sales and trading, asset management, or private equity, these power players move the financial markets

This year’s listing features 11 women, including Collins, who resurfaced as co-founder of the private equity firm Svoboda, Collins L.L.C., and newcomer Amy Ellis-Simon, head of multiproduct sales for Merrill Lynch. She appeared on our “Up and Coming African Americans on Wall Street” list in 2002.

The pool of talent is impressive. Unfortunately the number of African American financial managers remains relatively small, and allegations of racism are still leveled at major firms. Despite being run by an African American, Merrill Lynch is being sued by 70 former and current employees who charge that it engages in discriminatory hiring and promotion practices. “African American movement within the industry has seen slow and steady progress, with incremental increases in minority recruitment,” says P. Michelle Holton, manager of inclusion at Edward Jones and chairwoman of the Securities Industry Association’s Diversity Committee. She concedes movement within the pipeline into senior management has remained inert. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, representation of African American officials and managers is the highest in the areas of banking/credit, at 7.0%, and the lowest in the securities industry, at 4.4%.

Those numbers speak volumes. Wall Street is still viewed a club steeped in exclusivity — a bastion of white male privilege. But Rogers says it’s not so much that African Americans are intentionally being kept out of the industry, but that “when deals are being cut we just aren’t even thought about.”

However, the impact of our 75 power players on the financial markets — and the world — has not gone unnoticed.

Selection criteria for the most powerful African Americans on Wall Street

  • Those chosen are investment bankers, traders, asset managers, venture capitalists, or top executives with management responsibilities over these areas.
  • They are responsible for the companys’ bottom line and execute transactions on a national or global scale.
  • They have achieved the status of chief executive, president, partner, managing director, or other top-ranking position at their firms and have significant management duties.
  • They demonstrate significant influence within their company and throughout their industry.
  • Entrepreneurs who own their own firms must operate investment banks that have managed more than $10 billion in total issues, asset management firms with at least $2 billion under management, private equity firms with at least $100 million in capital commitments, or perform as a leading firm that engages in unique or complex transactions.
  • Candidates must work for a U.S.-based company or the U.S. operations of a foreign-based company.
  • Candidates must have at least 10 years of experience in the financial services industry.
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Gilbert E. Ahye. SVP, Business Development and Mergers & Acquisitions American Express Co. New York, NY. Age: 59.Bottom Line: Ahye is a key adviser to the American Express Global Leadership Team, developing new international business partnerships and executing mergers and acquisitions. Since assuming his current role three years ago, Ahye successfully led the acquisition of Threadneedle, a U.K.-based asset management company, which was recognized by Institutional Investor as the Asset Manager Deal of the

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