"Divine" woman thrives in Wall Street trenches

Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:42am EST
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By Joseph A. Giannone

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Probably safe to say, Danielle Hughes is unique on Wall Street. She's owner and chief executive of a firm and about to give birth to her second child.

In the male-dominated world of investment banking and securities dealing, Hughes and her Divine Capital Markets LLC have thrived amid one of the most challenging financial markets in decades.

Certified as a woman-owned enterprise by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council, Divine attracts business from companies and institutions encouraged to work with minority companies, such as public pension funds.

Yet the little firm's success has come from providing attentive service to customers and making a number of some smart market calls, she said in an interview.

"It's all about relationships and technology and knowing your stuff," she said, speaking from Divine's New York trading floor. "You're competing with Goldman Sachs and all the other big boys, so you really have to be able to show you can do what they do, and do it faster, cheaper and smarter."

Hughes is a rarity on Wall Street -- both CEO and owner of a firm.

She follows in the footsteps of other Wall Street women, including Muriel Siebert, the first woman to obtain a seat on the New York Stock Exchange in 1967, and Patricia Winans, the first black woman to own a brokerage when she founded Magna Securities in 1991.

As a broker-dealer, Divine executes buybacks, stock and bond trades for diversity-minded companies like Starbucks Corp and IBM as well as pension fund managers. That accounts for about one-third of Divine's revenue.   Continued...

<p>A sign is pictured on Wall St. near the New York Stock Exchange in New York November 25, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>