Lauren Simmons made history as the youngest full-time female trader on Wall Street at age 22. She was also the second African American woman equity trader since the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) was established in 1792.
“In 2017 I said no to limiting beliefs so I could say yes to shattering glass ceilings and making history. I continue to bet on myself and stand above all the no’s people throw my way. Frankly, I thrive on people who doubt me,” Simmons shared on Instagram.
Simmons’ story went viral. She garnered media attention and a plethora of speaking engagements. However, the young trader was only earning $12,000 per year from her full-time job.
“While I’m forever grateful for that opportunity and stepping stone, I appreciate it more so for the life experiences that it has lent me because truth be told, all that glitters isn’t always gold,” Simmons shared with Business Insider.
From Full-Time Student to Female Trader on Wall Street
Simmons earned her bachelor’s degree in science genetics from Kennesaw State University in 2016. According to her LinkedIn, Simmons started working at Saks Inc before she graduated. She continued to work there after graduation as an Associate Business Analyst and Sales Manager, supervising a team of employees and selling over $15,000 daily.
Then, Simmons landed an opportunity with Rosenblatt Securities in 2017. As an NYSE equity trader, Simmons managed customer order flow with a notational value of over $150 million dollars daily. She also executed across various financial sectors on behalf of buy-side and sell-side institutions.
“I fell in love with the numbers and the fast movement, and the men in the trading jackets, and everything was moving so fast and I’m loving it,” she told BBC’s Joe Miller.
Understanding Her Worth
After spending nearly two years as an equity trader, Simmons left the Wall Street firm to pursue her own path.
“It was a fast-paced, exciting new environment, in which I gained a lot. I was also only making $12,000/year on the floor, so my enjoyment and eagerness were pure,” Lauren shares with Business Insider.
When social media followers discovered Simmons’ annual compensation, they were shocked. One LinkedIn connection asked if she meant $120,000 instead of $12,000 per year. Lauren revealed that her family was able to support her during that time. Another follower asked if her job was an internship or if the $12,000 was a typo. Simmons confirmed that it was not an internship.
In her Business Insider article, Lauren opens up about the barriers that still exist for Black women in finance. “While no one was overtly racist, sexist, or inappropriate to my face, it was glaringly obvious that there was an unspoken camaraderie that I would never be privy to.”
Lauren acknowledges the team of individuals who championed her success as an equity trader. But she admits that it wasn’t a hard decision for her to leave the NYSE and step into her next chapter. The young Wall Street pioneer is gearing up to host a new digital series, Going Public, and preparing for the release of her book.