Kourtney Ratcliff: Building her own future in finance

Written by The Miami Times
Kourtney Ratcliff Kourtney Ratcliff

While other teens were flipping burgers and babysitting, Kourtney Ratliff was helping to build one of the nation’s premier financial institutions.

During high school breaks, she commuted 70 miles from her native Racine, Wisconsin, to Chicago to intern at Loop Capital, the bank her cousin James Reynolds Jr. founded in 1997. Today, Ratliff is a partner and head of the Global Equity and Taxable Fixed Income and Transition Management divisions at Loop, the nation’s largest minority-owned investment bank and the sixth largest U.S. municipal bond underwriter.

“At 16 years old, the allure was absolutely the pay,” recalls Ratliff, who recently moved back to Miami and sits on the University of Miami’s Alumni

Board of Directors. “I knew nothing about investment banking, but I did know minimum wage was maybe $5 an hour, and my cousin was paying me $10.”

In the late ’90s, the Internetwas revolutionizing banking and commerce. Ratliff jumped on board by starting Loop’s email extensions, helping to create and design its first marketing materials and PowerPoints, and, working with senior bankers, running models for bond underwriting opportunities. “I definitely wasn’t going and getting coffee—though I would have if that’s what they needed,” she says.

Ratliff, an honors student and captain of her high school cheerleading squad, turned down free rides at the University of Wisconsin and other top schools to become a ’Cane. She graduated with a Bachelor's of Business Administration in 2003. Though she enrolled in pre-med with dreams of being a pediatrician, she soon gravitated back to banking and life as an entrepreneur. A scholarship from Morgan Stanley and a Wall Street internship only fueled her passion.

“I really loved growing a business—starting something and seeing it come to fruition. The education I got at Miami played into that,” says Ratliff, 33. “I had a teacher who was a hedge fund manager who flew in from New York City to teach us finance for the real world. I had friends at Duke and Yale—none of them had that experience.”

Drawn back to Miami by its diverse business community, its culture, and her alma mater, Ratliff has established Loop’s second office in Florida and first in Miami—as well as a self-funded, need-based scholarship fund for African-American students in UM’s School of Business Administration.

“I got to experience more as a Miami undergrad than most people will in a lifetime or two,” she says.

“Being part of the University, sitting on the alumni board, participating in the school’s growth—it’s something that really makes me happy.”



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