Craft in the City

The Amazing Helane Morrison

Helane Morrison joined Hall Capital Partners in 2007 after Wall Street had crashed in infamy from corruption scandals. She had been an officer at the Securities and Exchange Commission for eight years, as the main investigator and law enforcement official for 5 Northwestern states and the Northern California region. She was instrumental in the prosecution of the robber barons that she found had bilked thousands of investors through fraud, such as Bernie Madoff. She was also the media face of the SEC and even to other governmental agencies.

Morrison joined Hall Capital partly to fulfill her personal goal to help restore confidence in Wall Street financial companies and the industry as a whole. She also enjoyed the diverse culture of leaders at the firm, all managed by women. She is the Chief Compliance Officer, General Counsel, and Managing Director, located in the San Francisco office of the company; one of the most successful investment houses in the state of California.

She began in a career with journalism, but ended up being diverted into working with the Federal government. Whatever field she has worked in, Helane has always stood firm against corporate crime and any form of corruption. She is a strong example of a business person who stands for strong business through staunch affinity for operating with good ethics and moral values.

Morrison has a BS degree from Northwestern University in Chicago in Journalism. Her J.D. was earned from the University of California at Berkeley, School of Law. She was the University’s editor-in-chief at the California Law Review. She clerked for the US Court of Appeals Judge, the Honorable Richard Posen. She also clerked for Harry Blackmun, an Associate Supreme Court Justice. After a few years in these positions, Helane Morrison joined the Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin law firm, where she distinguished herself for 10 years. Most of her work has been around business litigation and other issues for companies dealing with the SEC.

One of the reasons Morrison left the SEC was that during the investigations of 2007 into Wall Street wrong doing, she discovered how very few women were represented as leaders in the financial sector. She was concerned that so few women were in the positions to make financial decisions for corporations. She also noted that few women were working hard to break through the “glass ceiling” to the top ranks of business. Thus, she made a dramatic change in her career and joined the financial sector to fight for equality there. Read more about her SEC days in this SFGate article.

Helane Morrison Broke Through the Financial World’s Glass Ceiling

The financial world has never been known as a culture friendly to women. Although a lot more stock brokers now are women than ever before, most of the traders and dealmakers are still male. 

The financial world has also never been hospitable to regulators.

Yet Helane Morrison has managed to succeed as a woman and as a regulator determined to keep the industry honest. She now serves as Managing Director and Chief Compliance Officer of Hall Capital. Hall is the largest investment advisor in San Francisco. It invests money for some of the wealthiest families in the country. It has over $24 billion in assets under management. It is also the only investment firm in the country that’s run exclusively by women. Therefore, Morrison has found a way to continue to put her expertise in ethical investing protecting investors from financial services predators in 3-piece suits, while still working for gender equality in the workplace.

Morrison earned her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University in Illinois.

She served as a law clerk 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, then served as clerk to Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, famous as a champion of women’s rights. For 10 years, Morrison worked in private practice in area related to business and securities. As full partner, she headed a team of 100 employees who investigated corrupt traders. 

This accomplishment brought her to the attention of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), the government agency responsible for regulating the finance industry. She accepted their job offer as head of enforcement in their San Francisco office. For the next 11 years, Morrison made a name of herself as a tough crusader defending investors against the corrupt and powerful. 

She went after top executives at Hewlett Packard, Google, Ernst and Young, HBO, NextCard and others. She exposed the insurance company American Amicable’s deceptive sales of securities to U.S. military personnel.  During her time at the SEC that agency promoted her to the Head of Commission and Regional Director, the first woman in history to achieve that title in the SEC. Her territory covered Nothern California (including Silicon Valley, so her position was very high profile) and five other states in the northwest.

Later, she accepted an offer from Hall Capital as Chief Compliance Office to make sure they adhere to industry ethics and law.

Connect with Helane on LinkedIn or check out her Crunchbase profile here:

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