PITTSBURGH — In 1995, Maria Bartiromo was the first journalist to report live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and the first female journalist to be inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame. The former CNBC "Money Honey" and Emmy Award winner is now at Fox.
She was named global markets editor at Fox Business Network and is host of Opening Bell With Maria Bartiromo, weekdays at 9 a.m. She is also anchor of Sunday Morning News on Fox News Channel at 10 a.m. She is married to the CEO of Wisdom Tree Investments, Jonathan Steinberg.
Q. How did you take on the challenge of being a woman in what was very much a boy's club, especially when you first started?
A. I guess it was difficult when I first got down to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. ... There were a handful of people that really didn't want me there. It was new to all involved having a woman on the floor reporting on what these guys were doing. No less, a woman with a camera. So I can understand, in retrospect, why some of the guys were uncomfortable with it.
How did I endure? I realized very soon into it that I needed to know my stuff and make sure to study, study, study. I recognized that when I knew my stuff, nobody could push me around. Often times I had more information than some of the guys on the floor had because they really knew the flow. They knew who was buying and how much but they didn't necessarily know why. That's true on any trading desk, so it became clear to me that it didn't have anything to do with knowing the subject. It was just a club-like atmosphere. Very soon into it I had a lot of friends and a lot of camaraderie down there on the floor and continue to do so today. For a woman facing a similar challenge, I think it is very important to just remember the basics. Know your stuff so that no one can have one over on you.
Q. You have admitted you are competitive. Was that always the case?
A. I like to work. I like to win. What drives me is the love of the work. I really love what I'm doing. That's why I want to get up early and start the day and have the best guests. I am certainly driven. I think as a child I was driven, too.
But this business is competitive and in order to compete you have to do good work and you have to be on your game.
Q. Once you get the big elusive CEO interviews for your show, do you find they are reluctant to talk? Are they guarded because of what they do?
A. I think it goes back to understanding the content. If you understand the content and you've done your work, there is nothing difficult about anything. You may very well be able to have an even conversation with the other person because you are both talking the same language. If you are not prepared and don't know the subject matter, you will be intimidated.
Q. You had a really good run at CNBC, so what was the main reason you decided to move on?
A. I think the main reason was I was there 20 years and I was looking at my career and thinking: 'Do I want to do the same thing for another five years?' They made a very nice offer to me to stay there. There was always a pressure for me to have, you know, four and five people on at once. There was always a pressure to do short interviews — five minutes, six minutes. I feel like sometimes these are complicated subjects — business and markets and economy — and you really can't get it in six minutes.
Often you've got the producer just watching the clock and not necessarily listening to the interview. People today want perspective. I think people are more informed about their money than ever before. They are not being served well by just getting a sound-bite.
I realized after 20 years ... maybe I should just open myself up and see if there are other opportunities out there. Roger Ailes came to me with an offer that really I couldn't refuse. It was the Sunday morning program on the Fox News Channel, which is an enormous audience. The Fox Business Network is giving me an opportunity to do longer interviews and to build something.
Over my 20 years of helping to build CNBC, it was quite extraordinary, you know, to be able to travel the world, travel the country to build this brand. We did it and I am excited to do it with Fox. Fox Business Network has made a lot of strides over the last six years. I feel like we have a chance to take it to the next level. I'm a builder, I like that.
Q. Ever since the housing crisis, people want to know more. They feel they need to know more.
A. I feel that way. I mean, I felt like I wasn't getting enough out of my guests. It was always a sound-bite situation. I know that a lot of people want to write that there is some argument going on (between Bartiromo and CNBC). Frankly, it is not. I love CNBC. I had the most unbelievable 20 years there. I grew and I learned and I grew up there, but I was ready for a change.
Q. You have that great Sophia Loren kind of look. Do you think being attractive was a deterrent or an asset to your career?
A. (Laughs) Thanks. The bottom line is that this audience, the business audience, they are very smart and smarter than me on some subjects. So if I don't study and know my stuff, it doesn't matter what I look like, I will be bounced off cable.
Q. So now that you know your stuff, where do you stash your cash?
A. I am a big saver. I have always been a saver. My mother just drilled that into me as a girl. So I do have money in money markets and savings accounts. But I also have money in the stock market. We are not allowed to invest in particular companies or do selective stock picking, but I do it in a diversified way through exchange traded funds. ETFs, in my opinion, are probably the best way to invest in the stock market. I do believe that everyone — and this is a big statement — everyone should have some exposure to the stock market. The younger you are, the more exposure you should have because over the long term, and I am talking, 10, 20, 30, 40 years, the best way to wealth creation is through the stock market.
I do not have a lot of debt. I do not like debt. The best debt you can have is your mortgage. I don't use credit cards.