In 2017, Lauren Simmons seemed to be on top of the world. She made Wall Street history — and Black history — when she became the youngest full-time female trader on the NYSE. She was also the second Black woman in history to become an equity trader in the NYSE’s history.
As can be expected, her story went viral.
“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,” Lauren Simmons said on Instagram.
But for all her achievements — and all the success that followed as a result of this groundbreaking moment — she was, according to Black Enterprise, making a measly $12,000 per year (which translates to $1000 a month).
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For purposes of understanding, the US Department of Labor says the poverty threshold for a single person under 65 is, as of 2020, an annual income of $12,880 — meaning that Lauren Simmons, a history-making equity trader on Wall Street, was earning below the poverty threshold. Even more shamefully, Glassdoor says that the average annual salary for an equity trader in the United States is more than $87,000.
But perhaps most gob-smacking of all was the fact that Lauren Simmons managed customer order flow with a notational value of over $150 million daily. She also executed across various financial sectors on behalf of buy-side and sell-side institutions.
Today, Lauren Simmons is no longer working at the place that paid her so shamefully. She’s gearing up for the release of her new book and her new digital series, and seems to be enjoying her new life. However, she acknowledges that even though she managed to make history, she couldn’t have done it without the support of her family (who supplemented her income while she was making the shameful amount) and that barriers still exist for Black women in the financial space.
“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,” she said to Business Insider.