Martina Edwards, Merrill Lynch, New York Stock Exchange

Wall Street Trailblazer Supports Minority Women Entrepreneurs Following Exit From New York Stock Exchange

The former NYSE trader currently holds a roles as the chief of strategic partnerships at Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs.

Martina Edwards, the first Black female broker for Merrill Lynch on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) floor, shares her remarkable journey as a trailblazer in the financial industry after leaving her groundbreaking role.

In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Alabama native explained her decision to leave the NYSE and pursue further education, stating, “I wanted to understand the other side of the picture in terms of how were these deals coming to market, and so I thought the best next step for me would be business school,” which she graduated from in 2008 during the country’s economic crisis.

The Tuskegee University finance graduate, which BLACK ENTERPRISE previously noted joined the NYSE as a Merrill Lynch trader during the week of the 9/11 attacks, now aims to leave a lasting legacy by guiding others on how to manage and move forward in crisis. “I want my legacy to be one that will be remembered for thinking beyond myself and outside of myself,” she said. “I joke and say you can’t time the market…I say that life can blow you brisk or gentle breezes…All of these elements of my life have just taught me that you’re going to have some ebbs, you’re going to have some flows, but you’re gonna get through it.”

At 44, Edwards leverages her expertise to empower minority women entrepreneurs through her role as the chief of strategic partnerships at Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, a Georgia-based financial institution providing funding, coaching, and connections for women, minorities, and other entrepreneurs from low-income communities.

Her Wall Street journey began after a Merrill Lynch internship ignited her passion for the stock market’s energy. Post graduation, she joined the firm full-time. “Sponsors for Educational Opportunity is what got my foot in the door to Wall Street,” she said, recalling her awe upon witnessing CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo, who reported from the NYSE floor. “‘This is where I want to go. This is the speed of the work that I want to do,’” she thought at the time.

Edwards vividly remembers the 9/11 attacks, describing the harrowing moment the explosion on the South Tower of the World Trade Center erupted behind her during her first week as she headed to report to the Exchange following normal trading. “I knew there was no getting to the Exchange…when I heard the roar of jet engines and saw the white underbelly of a teetering plane just above my head, and it felt so close,” Edwards recalled. A week later, she returned, finding “solace” in the NYSE amid the devastation.

Currently, Edwards serves on the advisory board for Zane Venture Fund, a local venture capital firm, exemplifying her commitment to empowering underrepresented communities in the financial realm.