The Economist got it right when it said in 2001 of Clara Furse’s appointment as the first woman chief executive in the 228 year history of the London Stock Exchange:
“Pretty in pink, petite and partial to pearls: it would be easy to misjudge Clara Furse…she has built her career in the world of derivatives-broking on a reputation for ruthlessness.”
Today, the woman. long regarded by some as awkward, charmless and argumentative, her obduracy is at last reaping full rewards. Courted by Australian, German and French exchanges, she has steadfastly refused to relinquish the LSE’s independence, even though not long ago some advisers were urging her to do a deal at half today’s share price.
The 47-year-old investment banker started her career in the City of London almost two decades ago and has played a lead role in the growth of the financial futures industry since 1990 when she was appointed a director on the board of Liffee, the London International Financial Futures Exchange, and until May 1999 she was deputy chairman.
Mrs Furse was born in Canada to Dutch parents before being educated in Colombia, Denmark and England.
She is married with three children and lives in South London.
Mrs Furse studied economics at “the other LSE” – London School of Economics – then joined Philips and Drew as a commodity broker in 1983.
In later years she was appointed a director of the company, which subsequently merged with Union Bank of Switzerland and changed name to UBS Phillips & Drew. The bank changed name again following its merger with Swiss Bank in 1998 this time to UBS.
By the time Mrs Furse left the company following the merger she had been a managing director at UBS for five years and global head of futures for four of them.
She stayed in her next job as chief executive of Credit Lyonnais Rouse until December 2000, moving to the LSE the following year into what many regard as the hardest job in the City of London.
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