Episode #75 Michaela Walsh – Founding the Women’s World Banking Movement, Financial Inclusion, and Female Entrepreneurship

Our guest today is Michaela Walsh. Michaela is an activist, scholar, mentor, educator, and author. She was the Founding President of Women’s World Banking. Women’s World Banking is the global leader in women’s financial inclusion. Prior to that, Michaela served as a Project Director for the U.S. Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, and as a Program Associate with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Michaela also was a pioneer woman manager with Merrill Lynch in Beirut, Lebanon, in the ’60s, and the first woman Partner of Boettcher & Company in the ’70s, and in 1980. 

This episode is a rare one. Michaela at 86 years old has a treasure trove of experience and is a true force of nature. We talk about the founding idea of women’s world banking, the issues it wanted to solve, the story how it came into existence. We talk about Michaela’s experience in female financial inclusion and the positive effects of it. We talk about how WWB financed over 100 million women over the years and became one of the most important financial institutions for female empowerment. 

Links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michaela_Walsh_(banker)

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EPISODE 75

[INTRODUCTION]

[00:00:04] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Wall Street Lab Podcast, where we interview top financial professionals and deconstruct their practices to give you an insider look into the world of finance. 

[00:00:23] AVH: Hello and welcome to another episode of The Wall Street Lab Podcast. With me today is Michaela Walsh. Michaela is an activitst, scholar, mentor, educator and offer. She was the founding president of Women’s World Banking. Women’s World Banking is the global leader in women’s financial inclusion. Before Women’s World Banking, Michaela served as a project director for the Us Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and as a program associate with Rockefeller Brothers Fund. 

Michaela also was a pioneer women manager with Merrill Lynch in Beirut, Lebanon in the ’60s and the first woman partner of Boettcher and Company in the ’70s. She was the founding president of Women’s World Banking. With me today, here is Michaela

[INTERVIEW]

[00:01:15] AVH: Thank you so much for coming.

[00:01:16] MW: I’m delighted. Thank you for inviting me. 

[00:01:20] AVH: It’s such a huge pleasure. I just finished reading your book Founding a Movement and you talked very quickly about – maybe this is a bit slightly off topic of what we want to talk about today with financial inclusion and all of that. But it’d be really interesting, how did you end up in Lebanon, in Beirut in the ’60s. That must have been some very interesting step in your career from the US to Lebanon.

[00:01:49] MW: Well, for many, many different standpoints. It was a broad step because I came out of the Midwest of the United States. Came from Kansas City, Missouri and wanted to have a career in finance in Wall Street and I went to school here in the East for a year and then I dropped out and start working. I wanted to go to Wall Street because it’s where the money was and that’s where the men were. I arrived from the Midwest where I had been working with a new Merrill Lynch office in Kansas City when they had just started opening outside of Wall Street. The personnel department didn’t have a clue of where to put me, but they also didn’t know what to do with Merrill Lynch International. 

Here was a golden egg for them. They could just send me right over to Merrill Lynch International, which was just a dream for me. Three years later, some people out of the training program said, “We would love you to come. We’re going to open a big office in Beirut, Lebanon” when they were really beginning to spread into global economy. I’ve kind of read – I said, “I would love to do that.” I went down to personnel again and said, “I have this opportunity to go to Beirut” and they said, “Oh! It’s too dangerous for us to send a woman overseas.” You can imagine how young women laugh about that now.

But anyway, I said, “Well, fine.” I quit my job, paid my own way to Beirut, Lebanon and was hired there by Merrill Lynch International for their new office in Beirut. I stayed five years and it was the most wonderful education for me. I’ve worked and played with people from all over the world, nationalities, languages. Then I learned how to manage an office for the guy who was head of it, who didn’t come into the office every day. I just had the most wonderful – I’ve never seen men look at women the way they did in Beirut with another culture. I was able to travel around the Middle East over that time. I just had really real education. Then Merrill Lynch sent me to London for a year and a half to train people there.

Then I came back to the United States and the New York office would not let me go into sales, which is where I knew the money was. I left my job, ended up on the street, being hired to work with the second venture capital fund that had ever been set up. Two years later, some people hired me to run an office here for the partner who was going to manage the first mutual fund, trade the first mutual fund on the New York stock exchange and I became a partner of that firm. Then for various reasons that I don’t really talk about too much, I left and was then hired by the foundation and went to Washington.

I just had a very eclectic career, but it gave me exposure in both the for-profit and the non-profit world. It was kind of a unique decision in the old, raw, young professional life of women. Does that answer your question with too many words?

[00:04:57] AVH: No, absolutely not too many because I think it’s – I’m glad you talked about the rest of the story because I found it so thrilling. It’s kind of curious, if I listen to your story, you went from. “Okay. I want to be where the money is, where the money is, where the money is.” Where typical Wall Street fashion driven that going where the money is to then founding the biggest contributed probably to women’s equality and having finance. What kind of drove that then to fight for and to give micro finance and fight for low-income women and low-income households in the developing world?

[00:05:42] MW: Well, I think there are two or three things. One of it is that, I’ve always been fascinated by the use of power and how power works, but I have never every desire to really own a lot of power. I’m a learner. I love to learn and I love people. I think I’m kind of a networker and I mean, you know, I have a library of about 2,000 books. I’m just a learner. I think that’s it more than anything else. 

But anyway, I made this change because while I was in this foundation world, before that, I had been working after work with teenagers who had been involved in drugs and helping them get their equivalency out of high school. In addition to that, all the travels that I did in the Middle East, I realized that women have an enormous amount of influence. I don’t want to call it power, but influence in local communities. Whether it starts in the home or whether it’s in the community. Even in the Middle East, where we think women are just totally hidden. They’re not. Within the home, they control. In the public, men voices control.

Then I went to Mexico City in 1975 to the first women’s conference, which is sponsored by the United Nations and that was the first time the United Nations had held a meeting outside of the UN headquarters. I never looked back. There were between 7,000 and 8,000 women there and listening to their stories, I realized that I have something to offer. There was no one who could find anybody else from Wall Street there, but me. I started working with some UN women whom I met. who I had utmost respect for because they were there were so committed to economic development, and poor women and how did we really get loans for them. I said, “Loans aren’t going to do anything for them. The government would be and still in control of loans. We need to help them create their own banking institution.” 

Everybody thought, “Oh! Michaela Walsh just want to start a world bank for women.” No, that was not my image. My image was to create a network of women who owned their own institution, their own resources and their own portfolios or their own bank accounts. That was my image. I work with the UN for about four years and we talked to everybody we could think of. The foundation let me have some free time to do that.

All of a sudden, this guy at the UN said, “Well, if we give you some money to have a meeting in five regions of the world to prove whether or not this is something that’s really needed, would you do that?” I said, “I’ll certainly would” and the other woman kept saying, “Oh! You can’t do that without approval from all of the other countries.” I knew that the person who was in charge had come out of a business and had been in the business world. I knew he would never have moved into that UN position if he didn’t have money to spend, so I took a gamble. I said, “I will prove that to you.” Pretty soon, we got the money and we had our first meeting in Holland. We all invited women, we had about 50 women there from all over the world. We didn’t know what we were talking – we knew there was a problem, but we didn’t know the answers to it.

But finally, one thing led to another and we got an account on the Dutch Law, who are so smart about international taxation, and financing and institution building. Much smarter than we are. I mean, we in the United States. Anyway, two years later, we got some role models and what I would say to each one of these women who was interested, saying, “Look, I don’t know how business is done in your country. If you can set up a private institution that’s run by women, owned by women, $20,000 and a legal structure. I know that within time, you can borrow money from the Central Bank. You cannot do that if it’s a government agency with any common control.”

Sure enough, pretty soon, we had 10 or 12 of these things started and those are all in existence today. There are now about 60 members of this network and each country has its own control, it has its own management, it has its own rules and regulations based on their own country. I bet we have helped women well over a hundred million women get bank accounts. We don’t control any of it. I’m not involved in management anymore. The mission of Women’s World Banking is very different now than it was 45 years, almost 50 years ago. But what we did was to really change the dynamic of finance.

My philosophy behind that is that diversity is the crucial to successful finance. If we centralize everything, everybody has to have the same kind of a credit card or the same kind of bank account, like these centralized banks we have now, we’re not going to succeed. There has to be flexibility and diversity, and women’s power, if you want to call it power or its influence is at the local level. I will argue that until the day I die. Does that answer your question?

[00:11:17] AVH: Yes, absolutely. I mean, 100 million women you helped. That’s just incredible numbers. I can’t think of many banks that have that many “clients”, people they’ve worked with, people they’ve helped. That’s incredible to see. I’m curious about how Women’s World Banking helped to do that, because the obvious question to me is, if you said, “Well, you need $20,000 and the legal structure in your country,” why has that not been done before you, without Women’s World Banking? What was the catalyst that drove you to do those institutions? Then maybe as a direct follow-up, what kind of institutions were they legally? Were they banking institutions? Were they private companies, investment funds or kind of what is the structure around them?

[00:12:14] MW: We didn’t care what the – the issue was, an institution that could qualify as providing financial services, did not – when we called it Women’s World Banking, there were people in the financial department in the Holland who said, “Oh! You can’t be called a bank. You can’t have deposits or the filing of the agreement, the file negotiation and agreement.” Thanks to help from a lot of men in Holland, a wonderful banker, a wonderful lawyer said, “If you call it Women’s World Banking” which was a marketing guy from Citibank, was the one who came up with that name. He said, “That’s what you’re doing. You’re doing banking services” and we’re not a bank.

In Holland, they said, “As long as you don’t take deposits in Holland,” which we use it as a networker, and as a guarantor of some kind, as a legal structure for raising capital funds to be used in this network, “then that’s legally okay. But you can’t have deposits because that makes you a real bank.” That was fine with us, we didn’t care. But then, each bank, we didn’t care under the laws as long as they could give loans too. In those days, women could only get into a bank if in fact they had a male signature, whether it was for a savings account or whether it was for a checking account or a loan. They didn’t have checking in those days, but for a loan. 

Well, what we’ve learned was that. we could guarantee the bank to make a high-risk loan to a woman, say for $100, that was a high-risk loan, so they had to be guaranteed. Well, we found from the first one that we did that, we learned later that Barclays Bank had five $100 guarantees against a one woman who never had a loan for $100. I mean, that’s how extreme the issue was. Then one of the members, the early members of Women’s World Banking was asked, “What is Women’s World Banking?” She says, “We take businesswomen who’ve never been into a bank, take their hand, walk them across the marble floor of the bank, set them down with something, show them how to make up a loan application which they had never done to apply for a loan and then help the bank guaranteed so the woman walked out with a bank account in her own name with no mail signature.”

Then one of the banks, they allowed women to open up small bank account, savings accounts for their children. They couldn’t have them without a guarantee, but they could start savings accounts for their children. That then became also a guarantee or a guarantor. However, anybody wanted to do it as long as it was legal under the laws of that country, we accepted that because we trusted the network we had. Then every two years, the whole network would come together for a meeting and we would talk about policies, and what we agreed to and what we disagreed to. 

Somebody in my office – the foundation said to me, “Why would you set something up like this and then give away all the power?” I said, “What are we talking about? Power? I don’t want any power. I just want to get women to access to access to the formal financial structure so that they qualify for their own production. That’s what it’s all about. How do people own their own production?” It’s just kind of, one, kind of a rambling story, was like taking the hourglass and turning it upside down, but it was an open discussion. There were no secrets.

[00:16:08] AVH: How did the loans work? You, as Women’s World Banking, you gave the guarantees to a local bank, say in Kenya, who then again gave the loan to a woman in a village and the local women in the village was helped to fill out a loan application multiplication by you and then you guaranteed it with money that you raised from the UN? How did the process work?

[00:16:34] MW: Somebody in the Women’s World Banking network, in that case the Kenya Women’s Finance would help the person and that Kenya Women’s Finance Trust was the guarantor for that woman to have a bank account at the Barclays Bank. 

[00:16:50] AVH: Okay. But how did you make sure, for example that you were not kind of taking advantage over, because the bank had no – not interest, but no really strong obligation to make sure the loans are at least in a bit relevant and fair and the woman to maybe come after people that didn’t want to pay them back. Did you [inaudible 00:17:13] have so much trust in the people that you were talking to, because you helped them? Or you said, “Okay. We have to trust the general public in being good”?

[00:17:22] MW: The local people who opened the local financial institution made all those decisions. Those became financial institutions in their own right. If a local bank wants to make a loan to somebody, they have to have trust in that person. It wasn’t me and the International Women’s World Banking, it was the local partner in that country who had the legal structure for financial institution. Some of those are national banks in their own country. They were very smart people, who understood something about how business was done in their own country. They weren’t going to make loans to or guarantee a loan to somebody who wasn’t a decent businesswoman. They know who the businesswomen were and local women are tough as nails in terms of being good businesspeople.

I mean, we didn’t have the technology. Now, the banks here, the central banks don’t have any clue of who these people are. They just trust the technology about making a loan to somebody. Then you get fined if you don’t. Well, we didn’t need that at the time. We were trying to build a reputation. We trusted the people we worked with.

[00:18:34] AVH: I mean, it’s absolutely necessary, especially if you have this personal connection, you can do that. Do I get the sense that you kind of vetted a bit like VC, like an Angel investor for an equity fund vetted the founder, the entrepreneurs that you then loan the money to? Is it a decent comparison?

[00:18:55] MW: I think it a decent comparison, but the sizes were much smaller, and you were dealing with a market of trust. The venture capitalists are in it for only one thing, one reason. That’s to make money. It’s not really designed to really build anything. I think what we have now, we have a new experience in the world today and that’s the new SGs, I mean ESGs that we call them. I think there’s a big change taking place in the stock market these days of people coming in and investing in things that relate to the [inaudible 00:19:28] that they themselves carry. That’s kind of the same story.

Instead of just investing in something that’s going to buy a crater that’s going to make a big money for a client they don’t even know, the story is now, people are making, particular women are making investments in things that relate to society or to the values that they carry themselves. They’re putting their money where their mouth is, so to speak. I think we see more and more of that building right now that I think – even the banks are beginning to write up pieces for distribution to their clients about ESGs, environmental society and government investments. If you look at the market now, the names of many of these companies, we don’t know. Then we come back to the other thing of taking a risk.

One of the things I learned on Wall Street was that, if you take a risk, you’re going to win more times than you’re going to lose if you think about the risk that you’re taking. But you’ve got to think about it and you have to be sensitive about it. If you have an interest in just making money, that’s one thing. But if you care about where your assets are, and that’s why I go back to the idea of the importance to the economy overall, is you have to look local. You have to be smaller scale to where you understand what’s going on.

[00:20:51] AVH: This came to mind, think globally, act locally. I fully 100% agree with you that people in general more look into ESG. I know that Triodos Bank has been very involved in Women’s World Banking. I had Jacco Minnaar, the the chairman of Triodos Investment Management on the board speaking exactly about that investing in ESG investing, in sustainability.

Then the question I have is that, if you look at Wall Street, you said, “Yeah, they want to make money.” Then what you wanted to do is, you didn’t want to focus on only making money, then the question is, why did you not just give out the money for free? Why didn’t you go to women in Kenya and just handed them the $100 they were applying for? What was the reasoning behind the decision?

[00:21:48] MW: That’s charity, and that’s what the government was doing for women at the UN. The whole idea was to have the women become part of the formal financial economy that was emerging. They had no role, except through in the signature of a man. The whole idea was to give women their own right to production, where they could own their own production. In many cases, own their own reproduction. There was a movement now that was beginning then. Look how much stronger the women’s voice is now than it was 50 years ago, 40 years ago. Now, we’re going to have a new governor of the State of New York and it’s a woman.

The question that you are raising, old-fashioned question. Charity has never benefited women from my perspective. It benefits education for people. It educates medicine. It educates research, but it does not benefit individual women. What I failed to mention was that, we got registered under Dutch Law because of Triodos Bank. Well, I met the people who started Triodos and got the first legal registration for kind of an alternative way of managing their deposits. Then that became kind of a model for what we needed legally to be able to do this network.

We were not meant to be a bank. We were meant to be a network of women seeking access to the formal financial economy. People used to say, “Oh! Michaela Walsh just wants to start a global bank.” That wasn’t the idea at all. Banking, the banking services is what we were trying to do is educate women, instead of just giving them charity.

[00:23:43] AVH: That’s exactly why I asked the question, because it’s such an important point I wanted you to take home that, charity is certainly good in its own rights. But if you want to include people and make them stand on their own, I think there’s been many studies that charity is not always the way to go. I like one quote from your book that’s kind of is in this old-fashioned, maybe a bit even naive thinking that you charged interest, so you are – and I’m quoting here, neofascist capitalist rip-offs. You can only say something like that if you don’t really understand that giving people something for free, yes, it’s charity. But if you teach them on the side, that’s what I really like about your story there. On the one hand, yes, you kind of charged them, but that’s just how markets work, right? But you also help them with the teaching, with the coaching, with the consulting to actually. 

Then the next loan maybe or the loan after that, didn’t have to be guaranteed but you, because the business was so sound and stable that you could just ease out of the position and then let the people and let the women and their families do everything for themselves.

[00:25:08] MW: The final thing that evolves out of all this project is that, if you look at the fact that women have strong voice, and some control, and influence and in power in some cases at the local level, there are some international big business that won’t even work with local women, because they either do it the local women’s way or they don’t do it at all.

I think an example of that is that we have encouraged these local people to keep their money local. Even if you have to make a loan that doesn’t have any interest under the government law, you can just do a barter or a loan to somebody, because the benefits of that have got to stay local. If you ship it out and send it to a central bank in the capital city, it’s not going to benefit in end that local community in the same way that it’s local if we keep decentralizing a certain percentage of the economy. 

I’m not saying everything has to be centralized. I mean, non-centralized. I don’t mean that, but I mean there needs to be a lot of flexibility and not centralized everything or we will destroy the economy that I helped start building in the ’60s and then walked away from in the ’90s. Now, I have a new training program that’s done from countries all over the world, focused on Latino Americanos. How do you teach local leadership to the younger, emerging groups that don’t have that? But there’s a whole another program that we started and it was all by local Women’s World Banking groups sending younger people for some training that I was giving up at Manhatanville College, then these young women took it over.

There’s an evolving interest in helping women help each other. If we do it locally, we will build a much broader base within the economy. I’m not saying we have to destroy the central economy. It’s not an either/or. It’s just – we all have to find ways of making life more flexible and more humane for everybody. This technology can get to all of us after a while, who’s going to control the technology. We all have to be able to make some of our own decisions about what is important. I hope for that. Before I pass on, I hope that I have that opportunity to see that bring on some real success. In other words, I live in New York City and when I came here with nothing but small businesses on every street. And now, those little small businesses are coming back. It’s very exciting to me.

[00:27:52] AVH: This is a bit off topic, but it’s just such a fascinating part that after the COVID pandemic at least in where I live in Germany, you saw a lot of small business struggle a lot. I have friend in Malaysia, and in other Asian countries, where the small businesses are really under a lot of stress, a lot of financial burden. What is your vision or your hope that after the pandemic, how we can regrow these small drivers in our economy?

[00:28:26] MW: Just come to New York City and see how many of the high-rise office buildings are empty. People don’t want to go back and work in big corporations. They want to work with each other, like two or three people. They have a great idea. The centralization of education or experience, put it that way is very, very different than it was even five years ago. None of this – there is no answer to how they do this. It’s a question of encouraging innovation, encouraging spreading out the economy and not deciding, “Well, today, where everybody’s going to put all money into these five companies or we’re going to buyback our own stocks and all that.” We put money into new and innovation.

For instance, if we look at some of these coin games, that’s very, very high risk and lots of people have made millions and a lot of people have lost millions. That’s a perfect example of an economy that I don’t have a lot of confidence in, but sooner or later, maybe they’ll find a way to make it more stable. But on the other hand, I’ve seen some new technologies emerge that are really doing some really great things, simple things. I think one of the exciting things is how do we really market agricultural food into the urban cities, how do we grow food in the urban cities. People are finding ways to do that now.

I feel the same about the new electric cars that our president is pushing. There’s another example. It’s going to require different kinds of technology and different – it’s just a question of – my father used to say to me, “Michaela, go change your dress and change your attitude.” I think that’s kind of led me down the path of the unknown, because people used to say to me, “Michaela, I don’t understand what you’re talking about.” Then pretty soon, the development world just wanted microfinance. I said, “It’s not microfinance, it’s macrofinance because it’s going to be so many. It isn’t just a single few people.” Just because it’s $10, $10 goes a long way in some economies on a daily basis. People need to understand the world better and I think the next, your generation or this next generation is understanding the world better because of the new technology that we didn’t have. 

When we started Women’s World Banking, we have a telephone and Western Union for sending faxes and we didn’t have any of this computer or Wi-Fi or any of that and we made it work.

[00:31:10] AVH: You talked about when you started women’s world banking. I’m curious, how did you manage to get it off the ground. Like, who were the early people that said, “Okay. We’re going to give you money so you can guarantee those loans.” How did you find the early institutions in the localized countries? Did you decide on which country you want to work with, where do you have the most potentials, where you found the best team on the ground or did you just say, “Okay. They had a team on the ground, they came to us we’re like, ‘Okay, yeah. Here’s the guarantees’”?

[00:31:46] MW: There were few of us who care deeply. We work four years of talking to people until we finally had our first meeting. Then out of that, we came another group of people who began to help and we raised out – at Mexico City in 1975, we raised $1700. Lilia Clemente, this chapter is in that book that I mentioned to you, she’s still in business today. She turned that into a million and a half dollars for us. We had a tiny office given to us to use and then we started talking to people about raising money. Then when we got this money from the UNDP to hold these meetings, we started them. That was slowly. Then after that, we started talking to the government.

I went to the Norwegian government at the recommendation of somebody. I said, “I would like to ask you a favor” and he says, “You asking us a favor? We’re asking you a favor. Our government has told us that we have to support low-income women in developing countries, so you’re doing us a favor if we give you money.” Then we found out that there was a network within the foundation world and within the government agency, aid agencies of kind of – they collaborated, whether it was England and Holland, and Norway or Norway and Sweden and all. We started getting requests from women who understood what we were doing who wanted to get involved.

Barbara [inaudible 00:33:13] from Sweden was one of the outstanding women who have been in Mexico City as an economist from Sweden was blown away by what she saw among women in Mexico City. She wasn’t a feminist economist, but she sure became one. We’re still in touch with each other. Then Peg Schneider, Margaret Schneider who was with the UN then became head of the first UN Women’s office. Part of it was a movement that was evolving after that meeting in 1975. There was so much energy that burned in that place that you couldn’t go into any country in the world and not hear about what happened in Mexico City in 1975.

[00:33:58] AVH: When you started  your journey of founding Women’s World Bank and having those meetings, what is now that you’re expecting to happen or did it, at one point, just became a ball that was just bigger than all your ideas?

[00:34:13] MW: I left Wall Street and I was hired as this associate program officer in this foundation, and I did what a lot of people used to think with all the garbage and the stuff that family wanted done, just did anything. I was [inaudible 00:34:27] graduate school for me, because there was no merger between the financial world and the government in those days, or the foundation. There were very, very few foundations in those days. The boss came and said, “There’s some kind of a meeting down in Mexico City in August and I think you should go it.” I said, “Well, I don’t know anything about Mexico and I don’t know anything about international development, but I would love to go.”

I will tell you that I never looked back, I was absolutely dumbfounded. I’d never seen anything like it. I’d never heard the commitment that I heard in people and I had dinner with some couple people that whom I didn’t know, because I was Wall Street type and it changed my life. 

[00:35:12] AVH: You quickly said earlier in passing that the vision or the mission of Women’s World Banking from the founding days to the day change, can you tell us a bit about how the vision changed, what does Women’s World Banking do today that they didn’t do 20, 30 years ago?

[00:35:31] MW: I think they do a lot more research than we did at the local level and are much closer – the woman who runs it is a banker. She’s one of the best managers I’ve ever known. I was a terrible manager. But she is much more of a banker than I was or that I have missions about. Now, you’re dealing with credit cards, so it’s now definitely a different kind of a global economy. I don’t think we could probably do Women’s World Banking today. It’d be hard to try to do it anyway. I guess, not any harder than it was then, but anyway. It’s a different kind of mission then what we were focused on at the time. They still are totally committed to women, they’re totally committed to local communities, but I think, you’d have to talk to them about what how they see their mission. There’s much more technology than in those days.

[00:36:24] AVH: Let’s switch gears a bit and you also – it’s something that I talked about quickly early on. That’s the trend of impact investing. Could you shed some light on that trend from your perspective? What do you think brought this on? What are good means of how to get involved if you are interested in changing the world for good? I mean, this has been the topic of my last conversation with Tracy who introduced us. It’s like, how to have finance be a force for good? What kind of thoughts do you want to give to our young listeners out there on how they could be involved in sustainable investing, microfinance and even all the other topic that you’re so passionate about, right? Women’s inclusion, how could people get involved and make the stand?

[00:37:17] MW: I think it’s already happening. Your question kind of implies as, how do you control it? I don’t think you can control it. I think it’s going to happen in different ways, it’s going to happen in different time frames. I think that we have a major crisis right now of getting rid of us gray-haired old types that don’t want to give up our authority or power. The imagery has to change faster than it’s changing, but I’m seeing that now in women. Women is taking control of their own money in ways that when I – then I have to sidetrack here.

When I was on Wall Street, Merrill Lynch did a study with the University of Chicago and found out that most of the stocks in the United States were owned by women and controlled by trustees in banks. Men set these trusts and wills up for their wives, and their daughters and women had no control over it. It was all controlled at the trustees of the bank. Ninety six percent of all of the money that was managed at the time when I started on Wall Street was managed by trustees in banks, total control. It wasn’t just the trading, it was the absolute control over the trust. That’s radical change right now.

Now, I think that what you have with the younger generation is that they are – they’re smarter. First of all, a lot of them have an interest in money. A lot of them understand the technology. I think the information about science and technology is radically changing. The younger generation are smarter than they were in my day, and so I think you see younger women and men taking more and more responsibility over what they do and what they say. I think that there is an evolution going on that still has not been identified as to how powerful it is. I think all we need is a little more time and we’re going to see some radical changes.

The one thing that I want to see is more things like the two divorced women from these very wealthy husbands have now joined forces about how they’re going to start investing with other women and activities. There needs to be a lot more of that. A lot of the women I know still want to be just part of the man’s world. A lot of them want to be something different and they want to work more in a new creative way, and they all work with men, and women or all women, whatever. But I think that the issue is, we need to see a larger percentage of people investing in women’s businesses, and then you’re going to see some radical change. But I think that you’ve already seen big change and I think it’s moving faster, and faster than we’re giving credit to. 

I think once we get Mr. Trump out of the way, and we get more research that’s going in to the discovery of how dishonest many of these men in power are, and always have been. I think our economy or our society is always had that problem. But the younger generation is now starting to be aware, the researchers a really good. We’re seeing much more really clear good research being done by young people. I mean, I’m rambling a little bit, but I think that’s what we have to do. Just trust that more of what we’re reading about.

[00:40:56] AVH: Yeah. I like exactly what you’re saying and maybe to start wrapping this up and letting you go back to your day, we have a lot of exactly those young people listening, starting out in their career. What kind of words do you want to instill in them. What kind of message do you want to give them? What kind of motivation do you want to have as your last words that they can be motivated before we quickly — ?

[00:41:27] MW: You have to have passion for what you do. If you start work – nobody’s going to pay attention to what you’re doing until your 30-ish anyway. Go for something, take a job. If you don’t like it, don’t waste too much time. Get on and try something different. Learn what you can. That’s not to – but keep learning, but don’t waste time with your life. It will take you a while to really find what your real passion is. Don’t feel that you have to know it when you’re 10, or 12, or 14, or even 16 years old. Stick with it even if – I found mine when I was 45 years old. 

All I’m saying is that, we’re all different. Each one of us is going to learn a different road and if you’re bored and you have a little bit of money, put an affect on your back and go take a trip and visit some place you have never been, talk to people you have never known. That’s when I came to New York City I won’t want to live anywhere else but New York City, because the diversity creates energy in my own way I think about life, but everybody finds different issues about their own life and how they want to live it. But keep looking and keep learning. The world out there is just filled with excitement and adventure. To me, even at 86 years old, still an adventurer. 

[00:42:56] AVH: Absolutely, 100%. I think those were lovely words. I can feel the wisdom and you have been the wisest in terms of life experience of our guests. Thank you so much for giving me your time, for giving our listeners your time, your insights and for – before I started recording, we had this quick conversation about thinking positive, being positive for the future. I think, I hope that our listeners take it to heart that they are open, that they try to experience things and that they think about what a positive impact we all can have in the future.

[00:43:42] MW: Okay. Any time I can help you with any way, shape or form, that’s why I’m here and that’s my best gift to anybody. If anything I say can be helpful, don’t hesitate to — give them my email, I don’t care. Contact me if I can be of any help. Thank you very much for the opportunity to really talk to you. I love the idea that I’ve been able to talk to a few people and maybe create an idea because we do it on one-on-one anyway. I hope that something I’ve said to somebody out there is helpful.

[00:44:12] AVH: Yes, I hope so too. My dear listeners, if you want to get in touch of Michaela, I will link to her website everything in the show notes. If you have any questions, do reach out to me. I will forward your email and make sure that you all get in contact, because I love what you do. One thing that I just want to say as a side note, I’m so impressed by what you’ve achieved and that for you, it’s all about serving other people and that’s just incredible. Thank you so much, Michaela. It’s been such a pleasure to speak with you. All the best.

[00:44:48] MW: Thank you.

[END OF INTERVIEW]

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