Most Powerful Women in Finance: No. 8, Bessemer Trust's Rebecca Patterson

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Chief Investment Officer, Bessemer Trust

Rebecca Patterson is typically helping investors stay abreast of what will influence their decisions in the market. But over the past year she has invested more effort in sharing her insights with those who are influencing the market — and the country — in a much more direct way.

Patterson, the highest-ranking woman at Bessemer Trust, set a goal last year to play a more active role in U.S. politics and policy. She wanted to do more than just observe what was going on around her.

“It feels that in recent years there is a lot more negativity and less trust around the world,” Patterson said.

She leveraged her network to speak with policymakers from both parties to share her understanding of market dynamics and propose ideas that she feels could help the U.S. economy. So far those who Patterson has discussed economic policy with include House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, candidates for office in New York State and some former policymakers.

Patterson also addressed members of the House Ways and Means Committee on strategies to improve the lives of middle-class Americans. Her suggestions included a greater focus on education, policies that encourage home ownership and saving for retirement, and ways to think differently about immigration policies.

“I know policy may not change simply because I made suggestions, but I feel compelled to at least provide objective food for thought and get actively involved in the process to the degree my schedule allows,” said Patterson, who was a journalist before transitioning to a career in finance and is often sought out by the media to offer commentary on television.

Being a role model for her daughters is an underlying motivator for Patterson, who oversees a 92-person team at work. She brings her daughters — Elana, 10, and Amelia, 13 — to demonstrations so that they can learn about the democratic process.

“I want them to know they have a voice and responsibility to use it,” Patterson said.

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