By B. Zarzur
Geraldine Weiss, a pioneering stock market adviser has passed away in her home this Monday, aged 96. Geraldine Weiss has paved the way for women in finance, a traditionally, and still, male dominated market. Nicknamed ‘the dividend detective’, Weiss developed an unconventional yet brilliant investment style – focusing on dividends rather than the analysis of corporate earnings, which has been the constant focus of wall street.
Weiss faced difficulties and prejudice since she was a child. Her family changed their last name because Weiss had been facing antisemitic bullying at school. Weiss grew up surrounded by investors, which sparked her interest. Graduated from Berkeley in 1945, with a degree in finance and business, Weiss began investing and looking for a job as an analyst. However, throughout most of her early career, Weiss has been advised by other male stocker brokers and companies that she was ‘better fit for the secretarial pool’, and that she would never really make it in such a male dominated field. Instead of listening, Weiss paved her own way, and educated herself, ‘I read all the finance books in the San Diego public library’, she stated.
Eventually, the unforgiving hours and overnights paid off – in 1966, Weiss was the first women to successfully launch an investment newsletter, ‘Investment Quality Trends’. For over a decade, Weiss wrote and published articles under the name G. Weiss to hide her identity as a woman and avoid any prejudice. The newsletter blew up. As the number of readers increased, so did the money in their bank accounts.
Weiss had a different perspective on how to invest. She found that a company’s earnings could be “easily hidden or disguised behind vague bookkeeping terms such as cash flow, depreciation or inventory reserves”. And dividends, on the other hand, represented reality (not subject to tactics and schemes).
It wasn’t until 1977 (eleven years after the launch of the newsletter), that Weiss revealed her gender as a woman on a popular finance talk show. Many expected subscribers of the newsletter to decrease, but “they were making so much money they didn’t really care”. From 1966 – 2022, the newsletter produced an annual stock market gain of 11.6%, including economic downturns.
Throughout the years, Weiss has gained popularity and published books that outlined her investment style, ‘Dividends Don’t Lie – Finding Value in Blue Chip Stocks’ and ‘The Dividend Connection – How Dividends create Value in the Stock Market’.
Even after her death, Geraldine Weiss will always be seen as a pioneering and innovative investor, who managed to succeed in a ‘macho culture’ that traditionally keeps women at bay. Weiss leaves but leaves everlasting lessons (not only about dividends), but about how she overcome difficulties, creating a long-lasting legacy. “She wasn't afraid to speak her mind and she wasn't afraid to live life the way that she thought it ought to be lived.”- Weiss’s granddaughter contemplated after her passing away.