Stan O'Neal
Wall Street CEO, 2007
Job / Role

CEO of Merrill Lynch, first and only ever Black CEO on Wall Street


Merrill Lynch


Born in rural Alabama, the grandson of a slave, Stan O’Neal went from GM factory worker to Harvard MBA to Wall Street CEO, breaking barriers all along the way. 

When Merrill Lynch to begin to modernize, internal competitors partnered with outsiders to oust him. He barely avoided indictment (“Financial Panel Suggested Criminal Case Against Stan O’Neal,” WSJ 2016), had to pay millions in fines (Reuters, 2011)  and has not run a company since – Stan O’Neal Ended Mother Merrill Culture and Hasn’t Run a Company Since (WSJ, 2018).  Meanwhile other Wall Street execs from that era avoided blame (e.g. Richard Fuld, John Thain) or kept their jobs (e.g. Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon) or got good new gigs (e.g. Brian Moynihan, Bob Dimond).


Stan O'Neal Ended the ‘Mother Merrill’ Culture and Hasn’t Run a Company Since

Forced out in 2007, former Merrill Lynch CEO has kept a low profile, mainly serving on boards


Stan O'Neal: The Rise and Fall of a Numbers Guy

It's tempting to describe Stan O'Neal's journey from the grandson of a former slave to the head of a $50 billion bank as the stuff of legends, but it's probably not the kind of phrase that O'Neal himself would use.