Travers J. Bell Jr., the “Father of Black Investment Banking,” was raised on the south side of Chicago in the Ida B Wells Public housing projects in 1941. His father worked in the operations department of the Chicago office of Dempsey Tegler & Company, and was able to get his son a messenger’s job. Bell, who obtained degrees from Washington University in St. Louis and from the New York Institute of Finance, ascended quickly, eventually to vice-president of the firm.
In 1967, he joined a New York firm, Fusz Schmelzle, as a vice president and director in charge of operations and its new computer facility.
In 1971, he co-founded investment bank Daniels & Bell. The firm became the first Black-owned investment bank on the New York Stock Exchange. Daniels and Bell grew to become a major force in municipal bonds underwriting throughout the nation.
In addition to his success in high finance, Bell structured one of the first leveraged buyouts completed by an African American business-man when his DanBell subsidiary acquired Cocoline Chocolate, which was ranked among the largest Black-owned companies in the 1980s.
Travers J. Bell Jr. sadly passed away in 1988 at age 46 from a heart attack. Since then, the company has grown to a net worth in excess of $15 million, finding its niche in underwriting securities of minority-owned businesses. Bell’s legacy lives on through his son, Gregory S. Bell, a writer at Black Enterprise and the author of In the Black: A History of African Americans on Wall Street.
“The American Dream is possible if you put in the time.” – Travers J. Bell Jr.
(Deven Robinson, January 7, 2021, https://www.blackenterprise.com/travers-j-bell-jr/?preview_id=697033)
(Craig Wolff, January 27, 1988 https://www.nytimes.com/1988/01/27/obituaries/travers-j-bell-jr-46-founder-of-only-black-firm-on-exchange.html )
(Coach TC, n.d. https://upwardaction.com/upwardaction-salutes-travers-j-bell-jr/)
(Kiara Taylor, January 31, 2021 https://www.investopedia.com/legendary-black-investors-5112666)